I live in a lovely little lake town in rural Minnesota.
Really, really cute.
The downtown is cozied up to the lake shore and nestled between two major highways. (And by that I mean they’re “major” for the country roads west of the big cities!)
There are big box stores strung along the highway, but just a few blocks south of the bustle is where all the magic happens.
Coffee shops, local shopping, the library, the little theater and… my favorite… the neighborhood yarn shop.
I’m a yarn snob, okay?
Don’t judge me.
I love wool. Beautiful, soft wool. Blends of fibers and combos that make me swoon. And I know local yarn shops have the goods. I have to show restraint!
My little town is also full of occasional shops.
I had never heard of them before moving here so let me explain what they are. I’ll give you my definition, but know others may explain it differently.
I think of them as awesome garage sales: almost like a pop up-restaurant for sweet finds. No junk. No dirt. No strange smell. People pricing the items actually know their value.
Vintage finds are speckled throughout each store.
Do-it-yourself and Pinterest projects finished and ready for you to display proudly in your home (without the tears).
Feel what I’m feeling?
So, imagine my delight when I stumbled upon locally handspun wool & silk yarn at one such shop.
I wanted to buy it all.
But since my dear friend (who is also my photographer and business partner and one to whom I refer as the string to my kite since she is a bit more calculated and logical in her decisions) was with me, I couldn’t buy them all.
(Fine. I could have. I’m a grown woman. But it may have caused the friendship schism of 2016 had I filled my arms with yarn and marched to the check-out.)
I had to have a plan.
So I chose one skein for each of my kids. The string to my kite approved. Schism averted.
Enter these three lovely skeins:
Each skein perfectly reflects each of their personalities.
Benjamin is my eldest and “his color” has been orange since he was born. It’s bright and bold, just like his kind heart. If being a good friend could be a super-power, it would be his.
Naphtali is my pickle in the middle (and kindred spirit since I also grew up in the middle). He is serious and focused and seems to blend in until you get a little closer and then, like the yarn I chose for him, you can see the rich, regal colors of his heart.
While Benjamin is a lot like Daddy and Naphtali is a lot like Mommy, we call Iva our “Sparkle Fairy Princess” since everything she does is filled with glitter and performed in a sweet theatrical fashion. She is filled to the brim with pure joy, so soft pinks and pastels made the perfect yarn color choice.
When I got home with my treasures, the skeins practically jumped onto my crochet hook and begged to be turned into cowls. I wanted to design something flexible enough to work with any yarn and hook combo so you all can go find a yarn treasure and replicate the pattern.
So here’s a cowl in honor of the occasional shops and the joy of finding a perfect gift:
The Occasional Cowl
Materials: Bulky yarn (ounces needed per size indicated below)
Hook: 8 mm
Gauge: 11 sts and 12 rows = 4” in sc
Sizes, completed dimensions (lying flat, width x height) and ounces of yarn needed:
1 – 3 years 9.5” x 8” 3 oz
4 – 6 years 10” x 10” 3.25 oz
7 – 12 years 10.5” x 11” 4 oz
Teen/Adult 11” x 13” 5 oz
Skill level: Beginner
Necessary Skills: single crochet, working in a tube
sl st—slip stitch
Rnds worked in a spiral, do not connect rnds.
How to replicate with any yarn/hook combo: If your yarn doesn’t have a suggested hook size, you can find the right hook for your yarn by placing the yarn inside the crook of the hook and choose the hook that the yarn fills completely without popping out of the crook too much; chain the number of chains to get the desired width of the specific size you want and follow the rest of the pattern exactly from rnd 1.
Ch 52 (58, 62, 65) sl st in first ch to connect ch (careful not to twist ch).
Rnd 1: Sc in each ch around.
Rnd 2: Working in the back loop of the st, sc in each st around. (52, 58, 62, 65 sc)
Rnds 3 – end: Rep rnd 2 until cowl measures desired height/size, do not finish off.
To finish: Sl st in each st around, finish off.
Iva (pink cowl) is wearing her cowl with the right side facing. This shows the loops left from the back loop single crochet stitches. (See photo below.)
Benjamin and Naphtali are wearing theirs with the wrong side facing. This shows off the little curly nubs from the other side of the back loop single crochet stitches. This is how I envisioned the cowl being worn. (See photo below.)
Abbey Swanson is a crochet designer and teacher of The Firefly Hook.