jamie fraser cowl

Folks, please find for your enjoyment, a new, free knitting pattern developed by yours truly!

In May, Hugh and I traveled to the UK. We had a fabulous trip, visiting Exeter, Oxford, London, Islay, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Birmingham and Cheltenham. Hugh’s parents purchased first class BritRail passes for us and it was the best thing ever! It made covering all of that distance so much easier and worry-free.

Hugh and I made a bit of a deal for this trip that I would humour him visiting all the distilleries he wanted, if he humoured me visiting all of the wool shops I wanted. It worked out quite well! From Exeter, we visited nearby Devon, where I knew there was a museum in an old woollen mill, and I had reason to believe they sold knitting wool.

Coldharbour Mill Museum was fantastic! Even Hugh enjoyed it and was a bit inspired to look into spinning wheels. I think he liked the large factory feel to it. I made sure to purchase enough wool to make a sweater, but they also had a bargain bin full of unlabelled skeins. I grabbed all of this chunky, dark green wool that I could, 2 full-sized hanks and one smaller one.

While on the train between destinations, I started sketching out what I wanted this wool to become. Inspired by the dreich but beautiful gloom of Scottish weather, and probably as a result of watching too much Outlander, I’m quite pleased with the result.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, the Jamie Fraser cowl (I prefer to call it the James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser cowl, but that was a bit wordy for publication). Scroll to bottom to download the pattern in PDF.


This unisex cowl is knit in the round and incorporates trios of cables and panels of seed stitch knit in super bulky yarn. Pair it with your favourite tartan and be sure to enjoy with a fine dram of whisky.

Use any bulky, super bulky or chunky wool and size 7.0mm (US 10.75) circular needles (or size appropriate for your wool). My finished cowl is 92cm in circumference and 26cm in height, but these measurements can be easily modified by using a thinner wool and knitting fewer rounds.


c2f: Cable 2 front. Worked over 4 sts. Slip 2 stitches to cable needle and let hang in front; knit the next 2 stitches from the left-hand needle, then knit the 2 stitches from the cable needle.

c2b: Cable 2 back. Worked over 4 sts. Slip 2 stitches to the cable needle and let hang in back; knit the next 2 stitches from the left-hand needle, then knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.

c4f: Cable 4 front. Worked over 8 sts. Slip 4 stitches to cable needle and let hang in front; knit the next 4 stitches from the left-hand needle, then knit the 4 stitches from the cable needle.


Cast on 124 sts, place marker and join to work in the round.

Rnd 1 (and all odd-numbered rounds): [(k1, p1) 3 times, k1, p2, k4, p2, k8, p2, k4, p2] 4 times.

Rnd 2: [(p1, k1) x3, p3, k4, p2, k8, p2, k4, p2] x4.

Rnd 4: [(k1, p1) x3, k1, p2, c2f, p2, k8, p2, c2b, p2] x4.

Rnd 6: [(p1, k1) x3, p3, k4, p2, k8, p2, k4, p2] x4.

Rnd 8: [(k1, p1) x3, k1, p2, c2f, p2, c4f, p2, c2b, p2] x4.

Repeat rounds 1 – 8 a total of five times (or until you have reached desired length), then repeat rounds 1 – 7.

Bind off.


Weave in ends and give Laird Fraser a warm bath with some wool wash. Block to desired measurements.

Download PDF jamie fraser cowl pattern



Unexpected twists

I recently grabbed a knitting book from the library called Sereknity (sidenote: Adelaide libraries are fantastic!) It includes patterns inspired by yoga positions and concepts of mindfulness. I probably wouldn’t buy it for myself because more than half of the patterns are actually crochet, but it really is a lovely book.

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I decided to knit a very meditative pattern called infinite. It is a garter stitch möbius cowl, meaning that you knit it in the round, being sure to twist your stitches when you join. For years, I’ve hated garter stitch for being boring and not aesthetically pleasing, but I have recently started to appreciate it for its meditative qualities. There is a beauty to performing the same stitch over and over and over again.

I knit in the round a lot, and I’m always careful not to twist my stitches when joining, but every now and again, I get a few rows into the pattern and find that I’ve twisted them. At this point, there is nothing you can do to untwist; you either frog it and start over, or you knit a jumper that is half inside out. Hm…pattern ideas forming…just kidding.

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Anyway, the twist in the infinite pattern is intentional, to make a finished object that doesn’t lay flat, that is non-orientable. As the author says, sometimes life feels this way, non-orientable, like you’re walking a long, winding path that somehow leads you right back where you started. While that can be frustrating, it can also be pleasantly surprising, even magical. Or at least a learning opportunity!

I started infinite the other night and made sure I had a twist in there. And then I knitted several rows and realised that I didn’t have a twist in there…I had two. This presents a quandary, a decision to be made.

Do I practice non-attachment towards the hours of work I’ve already put into it and undo the whole thing to start fresh?

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Or do I accept mistakes and imperfections as a normal part of life (and knitting) and commit to my over-twisted cowl? 

If I continue on, will I end up with a beautiful representation of the chaos of everyday life? Or will I end up with the equivalent of a jumper that’s half inside out? Will the extra twist be an intriguing design element, or an awkward design failure?

Is it weird that I’m willing to knit the whole thing just to find out??

Tutorial: headphone wrap

Julia is planning to post next week about the difference between Type A and Type B personalities, but to pre-empt her a bit, I’ll go ahead and state that I’m definitely a Type A. As such, I have a lot of silly, little pet peeves. One of them is the way headphone cords always get horribly tangled, no matter how neatly you wrap and store them. Why do phone companies insist on using that weird rubber coating that grabs itself and never lets go?!

Years ago, I followed a tutorial for covering headphone cords with yarn or thread. It used a knot that I used as a child to make friendship bracelets, the hitch knot. This creates a wrap around the cord, with a row of knots that spiral down the cord.

(My old headphones)

For Christmas, I got a new phone. Which came with new headphones. And I saw a new tutorial for wrapping headphones on Pinterest, using a crochet stitch!
The thing is, I’m well known for not being a fan of crochet. While playing softball, my husband liked to confuse the other team by shouting, “Smash the ball, Karen – imagine it’s crochet!” But I see the value of crochet when used for embellishment, and when I saw Kirsten Kapur’s photos of her phone charger cord wrapped with variegated wool in gorgeous colours, I was in love. I like the way the row of knots doesn’t spiral around the cord, but can sit in a happy, straight line.

The instructions from Kirsten are simple: tie a knot around the cord, then do single crochet along the length of the cord. Too easy, right? Hm, maybe if you’re familiar with crochet. For a croch-hater like me, even that simple instruction stumped me. Yeah, I know how to do the single crochet, but around a cord? It took me a good 15 minutes of experimenting to figure it out. So I thought I’d supply some step-by-step instructions, for those interested in giving it a try.

First, tie your yarn around your cord and double-knot it.

Second, hold the crochet hook and leading yarn in your right hand, and the cord in your left. (I don’t have a tripod so the photos were a bit tricky!) Dip the crochet hook under the cord and wrap the yarn around it once.

Third, pull the hook back towards you and position above the cord (the yarn will be coming from behind the cord now).

Fourth, wrap the yarn around the crochet hook, and pull through the first loop.

This is your first stitch. Yay, pat yourselves on the back!

Fifth, dip the hook under the cord again, and wrap the wool around once. Pull the hook towards you and above the cord again, and wrap the yarn once more. Then pull that through both of the other loops on the hook. This is the single crochet stitch.

Repeat step five (the single crochet) all the way up the cord:  dip, wrap, up, wrap, and through. And that’s it!

Kirsten edited her original post after she got concerns from readers that the wool on her cord might cause static electricity, which, I don’t know, I guess could spark and cause a fire. That’s probably a legitimate concern; what do I know? So here’s a disclaimer: I take no responsibility if you blow up your phone or computer or house. Cotton is probably a safer option than wool as a quick google search informs me that it is neutral and does not create static electricity, unlike wool, which causes a moderate amount of static. I foolishly covered my cords in quite a hairy, fuzzy wool, so I’m really living life on the edge!

Wrapping your cords doesn’t mean they won’t get tangled, but they shouldn’t grip themselves and stop you from untangling them. Which makes this Miss Type A very happy!