Swirling Leaves Cowl

Fall Cowl
Fall Cowl by Isela Phelps

The trees are changing color and perfect evening temperatures call for a cup of hot cocoa and pumpkin cookies. The Swirling Leaves cowl was inspired by all the beautiful colors of nature during this time of year.

Knitting loom: Afghan Knitting Loom, 141 pegs used.

Yarn: Approx 400 yds of Aran weight wool blend. Breakdown: 300 yds of main color (MC), 50 yds of contrasting color (CC), 25 yds of second contrasting color (SCC), 25 yds of third contrasting color (TCC). Sample used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in Beige (Main color, 300 yards). Accent colors—Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Allspice (CC), Dublin (SCC), Cornmeal (TCC).

Notions: knitting tool, tapestry needle.

Gauge (blocked): 10sts x 15rows= 2 inches

Pattern notes: The cowl is worked as a flat panel, the flat panel then is seamed to a circular. The picot edging is worked as part of the body of the cowl. The leaves are loom knitted then sewn to the cowl. The connecting branches are embroidered on.


K=knit stitch (do not substitute with e-wrap).

P=purl stitch


MC=Main color

CC=Contrasting color

SCC=Second contrasting color

TCC=Third contrasting color

K2tog=knit two stitches together. Decrease slants to the right. How to: over 2 pegs, peg 1 is on the right, peg 2 is on the left. Move loop from peg 1 over to peg 2. Knit peg 2, treating both loops as one loop. Move stitch over to peg 1.

SSK=slip, slip knit. Decrease slants to the left.  How to: over 2 pegs, peg 1 is on the right, peg 2 is on the left. Move loop from peg 2 to peg 1. Knit peg 1, treating both loops as one loop.

M1=make one, an increase. Before you can do the M1, you need to have a peg empty where you need the increase, move the stitches outwards to create an empty peg.  Reach for the ladder going from one peg to the next peg, twist it and place it on the peg. When you reach the point where you created the twist, knit the peg as normal.


COWLFall Cowl

Cast on 141 pegs, prepare to work a flat panel.

Row 1: k1 to the end of row.

Row 2: *k3, p1; rep from * to last stitch, k1.

Rep Rows 1 and 2 until item measures approx. 11 inches from cast on edge.

Cut MC, join CC.

Next 4 rows: k to the end of row.

Next row: *k2tog, yo; rep from * to last 2 sts, k2.

Next 4 rows: k to the end of row.

Bind off with basic bind off method.


Make 3-one with each color (CC, SCC, TCC)

Over 11 stitches (pegs)

Leave a 15 inch beginning yarn tail, cast on 3sts (working yarn should end by peg 3 after cast on. Row 1 should go in a left-right direction.) Prepare to work a flat panel.

Row 1 and all other odd number rows: knit entire row

Row 2: k1, (m1, k1) twice. (5sts total)

Row 4: k2, m1, k1, m1, k2. (7sts total)

Row 6: k3, m1, k1, m1, k3. (9sts total)

Row 8: k4, m1, k1, m1, k4. (11sts total)

Row 10: ssk, k7, k2tog. (9sts total)

Row 12: ssk, k5, k2tog. (7sts total)

Row 14: ssk, k3, k2tog. (5sts total)

Row 16: ssk, k1, k2tog. (3sts total)

Row 18: sl1, k2tog, psso. Cut yarn leaving about a 20 inch yarn tail end (yarn tail end will be used to embroider the swirls). Fall Cowl Leaves layout

Bind off by passing the remaining yarn tail end through the last stitch.

Need more instructions on making the Leaf? Check out my original file on this item-Little Leaf


Block all items, including the leaves.

Fold the cowl in half, placing the right side and left side together, mattress stitch seam along the side.

Picot edging seaming: it is imperative that the item is blocked to open up the picot edging prior to sewing it down. Fold down the picot edging, naturally the picot edging will fold down along the line of the eyelets. Using the long tail of CC sew down the picot edge.

Weave ends in.

Leaves placement: Use the photo shown layout the leaves by one of the sides of the cowl, you can also do a different layout. Sew the leaf in place.

Embroidering the connecting swirls: Use the chain stitch to embroider the swirls. Chain stitch: Thread tapestry needle with yarn tail from the leaf, draw the needle up the knitted fabric and *insert it back where it just came out, looping a short stitch. With the needle above the yarn, hold the yarn with your thumb and draw it through, pulling all the yarn out and leaving the small loop. Repeat from the *. Concentrate on keeping the chains the same size. Tip: if this is your first time embroidering, experiment first on a piece on another type of knitted fabric.

Great link on embroidery basics: http://www.purlbee.com/2007/02/12/embroidery-basics/

Weave all ends in. Block again if necessary.

9 thoughts on “Swirling Leaves Cowl

  1. Bethany, I had finished the cowl and I “thought” it was already and it was lacking something. Then I remembered the little leaf and I thought, “you know, I bet those would make this look 100% better”. I am very pleased with it. I think I am going to keep it 🙂

  2. Hi Isela!!!

    Your patterns are just wonderful!! Thank you soooo much for sharing your talent.

    I purchased the Book Loom Knitting For Babies & Toddlers.

    I am currently working on the Baby Bib……… The size of mine is not the same size as yours and wanted to know what I was doing wrong.

    When I count stitches in the photo it looks like there are actually twice as many as what the pattern calls for???

    Thank you sooo much for your help!!

    Prim Blessings

  3. That is DARLING! (as always, you inspire!)

    1. For the knit stitch did you use the reverse of the purl? Or did you use flat or u-stitch? I know sometimes you can interchange them and sometimes it’s best not to.
    2. What were the finished dimensions of the cowl? It looks large (that’s not a bad thing, I was am just curious – also, perhaps your model is ultra-petite.)
    3. How much shape did the cowl hold? Did it drape with the yarn you used or was it as upright as shown in the top pic. In one pic she’s holding it up so it was difficult to tell if this was done for photography purposes or if it stood up on it’s own.

    Love this!!! The colors, the design…it’s all lovely!

  4. Alyna,
    1. Knit stitch used was the reverse of the purl. For all of my knits, I typically use the reverse of the purl as it is the one with the most height and the closest to needle knit look. If you use the flat or u-stitch know that yours will look a lot tighter and it may not drape as much because the stitches are so tight.
    2. Dimensions–I am not home to check, but it was wide, I want to say about 20-24 inches in width. I was aiming for a cowl that went a little lower in the front to keep more of the chest warm.
    3. The cowl has drape with the yarn I used. If you use a yarn that doesn’t have as much drape, like an acrylic yarn, the cowl will be a little bit more stiff and sit more upright. The model is holding the cowl up so that the leaves can show. If she wasn’t holding it up, the cowl sits down folded around the neckline.

  5. Dear Isela,
    I love the pattern but I personally do not wear cowl as it is never that cold in Brazil.
    Is it possible to get to a similar look using the AIO? Do you have any instructions using that pattern for a blanket?
    Even being a begginer, I would like to save it for a future project.
    Love all you do and your book! Thank you,

  6. Juliane, a blanket would look lovely with this design. The design in question is worked in the round, if you were working in it flat, I would adjust as follows:

    Cast on a multiple of 4 + 3 (example: 160+3=163 stitches)
    Row 1: k to the end of round
    Row 2: *k3, p1, rep from * to last 3 sts, k3.
    Repeat the above two rows until blanket is desired length.

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