Hey guys! I’m SO EXCITED to present to you my first free knitting pattern and tutorial: The Bonheur Cowl! It’s a mix of all my favorite knitting techniques, and if you’ve ever taken a look at my Instagram feed you’ll know that they include cables, cables, cables…and cables. In this cowl, I’m combining simple cables that run in the middle of the piece to two braided cables on each side of the cowl, and in between the cables we’ll be knitting garter stitch. The cowl is worked in the flat and seamed together after finishing.
In this post, in addition to the full written instructions, you’ll also find a video tutorial for the cables and step-by-step tutorial pictures on how to master knitting all the cables, how to bind off stitches and also how to easily seam together the cast-on and bind-off edges. So don’t be scared if you’ve never knit cables before, I’m here to guide you from the very first stitch all the way until you’ve weaved in the last end! And after you’ve become the master of knitting the basic cables, I’m sure you’ll find that you can use them in SO MANY knitting projects you won’t even believe it (or you’ll end up like me and use them in ALL of your knits…)!
Also if at any point you have any questions or problems, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment on this post or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – like I already mentioned before, I’m here for you!
So let’s get started!
The finished product is approximately 30cm / 12 inches high and 68cm / 27 inches around.
- Approximately 200m / 218 yards of bulky yarn with the following gauge:
– 10 x 10cm / 4 x 4″ of stockinette stitch = 11 stitches, 14 rows
– if you prefer knitting with either a lighter or a bulkier weight yarn you can definitely do so: as a cowl is not a fitted piece like a beanie or a sweater would be, it’s not dangerous if you don’t reach the above mentioned gauge! Though note that if you choose a different yarn weight the finished product won’t be the same size.
- 8mm / US size 11 single pointed or circular needles (I use 60cm / 24 inch circular needles)
- Cable needle or a double pointed needle (I use a double pointed needle when knitting the cable turns)
- Tapestry needle
K = Knit stitch
P = Purl stitch
SL1K = Slip 1 stitch knitwise
C6F = Slip 3 stitches onto cable needle and leave in front of work. Knit 3 stitches, then knit 3 stitches from cable needle.
C6B = Slip 3 stitches onto cable needle and leave in back of work. Knit 3 stitches, then knit 3 stitches from cable needle.
In order to keep the pattern as clear and easy-to-read as possible, I decided to add the video tutorial + the tutorial pictures + the pattern notes at the end of the pattern, where I will further break down the details of the different steps!
To create chain edges on both sides of the work, the first stitch of every row is always slipped knitwise (SL1K) and the last stitch of every row is always purled (P1). The braided cables on the sides have cable turns every 4th row and the two cables in the middle have cable turns every 8th row. The cable turns are made on the right side of the work.
In between the cables you’ll knit garter stitch which means these stitches will be knit both on the wrong side and the right side of the work.
Start by casting on 41 stitches on your 8mm / US size 11 single pointed or circular needles and start by knitting the first row of the pattern on the wrong side of the work:
Row 1: SL1K, P9, K3, P6, K3, P6, K3, P10 (wrong side)
Row 2: SL1K, K39, P1 (right side)
Row 3: SL1K, P9, K3, P6, K3, P6, K3, P10 (WS)
Row 4: SL1K, C6F, K27, C6B, P1 (RS)
Row 5: SL1K, P9, K3, P6, K3, P6, K3, P10 (WS)
Row 6: SL1K, K39, P1 (RS)
Row 7: SL1K, P9, K3, P6, K3, P6, K3, P10 (WS)
Row 8: SL1K, K3, C6B, K3, C6B, K3, C6B, K3, C6F, K3, P1 (RS)
Repeat rows 1-8 for 12 more times (so you’ll knit the rows for a total of 13 times) and finish by knitting row 1 once more. The easiest way to keep track of the number of rows is to count the cable turns: you have knit the rows 13 times as soon as you have 13 cable turns in the middle cables! Also if you want to make the cowl longer you can keep on repeating the rows for as long as desired – just make sure you bind off on the right side!
Bind off stitches on the right side of the work in the following way:
- Knit 2 stitches.
- Using your left needle, lift the first stitch on your right needle over the second stitch and drop it off the needle.
- Knit 1 stitch.
- Repeat step 2, and keep repeating steps 2-3 until you have only 1 stitch left on your right needle. Cut the yarn leaving a long tail (you’ll use this tail to seam the edges together), thread through the remaining stitch and pull gently to secure the work.
To seam together the cast-on and bind-off edges you’ll use the mattress stitch, so make sure you align the edges right sides facing up and that all the cables match. Seam the edges together (use the long tail that was left after binding off) by threading the yarn under the horizontal stitches that you’ll find at the stem of the cast-on / bind-off edges. Pick up one stitch per edge at a time and move between the edges, always threading under matching stitches. Seam all the way up until the end and weave in the tail.
Okay, now lets get visual!
Here’s an overall picture of how all the cables and garter stitch look like together – as you can see the pattern is fairly simple and we’re only knitting two different types of cables! In the next picture collages I’m going to show you in detail how to knit the C6F and C6B, how to bind off stitches and also how to seam the cast-on and bind-off edges together. But let’s start with the video tutorial I made to demonstrate row 8 and how to knit the cables!
Video tutorial: The cables
Seaming: The mattress stitch
And last but not least, pattern notes!
So on the first row of the pattern we’re obviously setting the base for the whole cowl: the chain edges, the cables and the garter stitch. As I already wrote earlier, the first and the last stitch of every row are dedicated to making the chain edges and you won’t be working any pattern on these. The stitches that make the cables are purled on the wrong side so that they’ll always look like knit stitches on the right side, and the 3-stitch garter stitch parts between the cables are knitted on both sides of the work. So here’s what’s what on row 1:
Row 1: SL1K (chain edge), P9 (1st braided cable), K3 (garter stitch), P6 (middle cable), K3 (garter stitch), P6 (middle cable), K3 (garter stitch), P10 (2nd braided cable + last stitch of row) (wrong side)
The braided cables consist of 9 stitches respectively and the middle cables consist of 6 stitches respectively. Let’s have a closer look at row 2 as well:
Row 2: SL1K (chain edge), K39, P1 (chain edge) (right side)
Now thanks to the garter stitch, all the stitches of the right side of the work are being knitted. The only exception to this are the first and last stitches on which we don’t work the pattern but make the chain edge instead.
Row 3 is exactly the same as row 1, so we can move on to the details of row 4, where we make the first cable turns of the braided cables on the sides:
Row 4: SL1K (chain edge), C6F (1st cable turn of the 1st braided cable, worked on the first 6 stitches of the 9-stitch cable), K27, C6B (1st cable turn of the 2nd braided cable, worked on the last 6 stitches of the 9-stitch cable), P1 (RS)
So in order to give the cable the braided look, you’re going to alter between knitting C6F and C6B every 4th row of the pattern. You’ll work the cable on 6 stitches – either at the beginning or at the end of the 9 stitch cable pattern. This way, the cables will turn in different directions every 4th row and create a braid. Note that on the first braided cable, the first cable turn is a C6F at the beginning of the 9-stitch cable, and on the second braided cable at the other edge the first cable turn is a C6B at the end of the 9-stitch cable – this way the braided cables are each other’s reflections!
Row 5 is knit exactly like row 1.
Row 6 is knit exactly like row 2.
Row 7 is knit exactly like row 1.
Row 8: SL1K (chain edge), K3 (first 3 stitches of the braided cable), C6B (2nd cable turn of the 1st braided cable, worked on the last 6 stitches of the 9 stitch cable), K3 (garter stitch), C6B (1st cable turn of the middle cable), K3 (garter stitch), C6B (1st cable turn of the middle cable), K3 (garter stitch), C6F (2nd cable turn of the 2nd braided cable, worked on the first 6 stitches of the 9 stitch cable), K3 (the last 3 stitches of the braided cable), P1 (chain edge) (RS)
On the 8th row of the pattern you’ll knit cable turns on all of the cables: on the braided cables you’ll make the cable turn in the opposite direction than on the 4th row, and this is the first time you’ll make cable turns on the middle cables as well. After the 8th row you’ll start the pattern again on the 1st row and keep on knitting rows 1-8 until the cowl has reached the desired size!