technique: create a Swirl "Super Swatch" Cowl

11/8/2014 by Sandra McIver

Really want to knit a Swirl, but feeling a bit too daunted by the prospect to start? Don’t want to knit that all-important swatch because, phooey, all you end up with is a dumb square?

super swatch cowl 1super swatch cowl 2

swirl super swatch cowl 3Swirl Super Swatch Cowl 4

I have just the thing—a nifty little cowl pattern that allows practice of most of the skills required to knit a Swirl and also serves as the ideal swatch—one that is good-sized and knit in the round.


Swirl “Super Swatch” Cowl

Materials: copy of Knit, Swirl!, circular needles of appropriate size and 16" to 20" in length, approximately 1 skein of yarn

Before beginning, please do read Chapters One and Two of Knit, Swirl! and check out other Swirl technique tutorials including:  choosing a Swirl silhouette and size, choosing a substitute yarn, casting on using two balls of yarn, no-twist join, and measuring gauge in a Swirl.

Choose your Swirl pattern and pick your yarn(s).

Determine number of total cast-on stitches and stitches per section for your cowl:

A.   Measure circumference of your head and multiply number of inches in circumference by number of stitches per inch in gauge called for in your Swirl pattern.  (This is a minimum number of stitches; of course it can be longer if you'd prefer.)  Round up, if necessary, to next even number. 

Example:  23.75 (inches in head circumference) x 6 (stitches/inch in chosen pattern gauge) = 142.5 stitches.  Rounded up =144. 

B.    Stitches per section = half the number derived in Step A.

 Example:  144 / 2 = 72 stitches per section

C.   Cast-on stitches = number derived in Step A + 1.

Example:  144 + 1 = total cast-on stitches

Follow instructions for the first several welts of your Swirl pattern substituting your cowl cast-on stitch number (C) and stitches per section number (B)  for the Swirl pattern cast-on stitches and stitches per section number(s).  (Note that your cowl will have just two sections rather than the eight sections called for in a Swirl.  Decreases at markers beginning in Welt 2 will, therefore. be made at two markers rather than at eight.)  

Continue until your Swirl “Super Swatch” Cowl is at least 8” in depth when gently extended, ending with a complete odd-numbered welt.  Work 2 additional rows to the last welt and then bind off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off (JSSBO).  Instructions for JSSBO can be found on page 16 of knit, Swirl!

Use cast-on yarn tail to sew first rows of welt 1 together.  Weave in ends.  Wash, block and measure gauge.  Wear and enjoy!



keywords:  work in the round |  circular knitting |  joining the circle |  cast on |  long tail cast on |  longtail cast on |  no twist join |  knitting in the round |  gauge |  Swirl |  swatch |  super swatch |  super swatch cowl |  JSSBO |