In my last blogpost, I started my new accessories series by looking at knitted cowls. These wonderful creations are great for keeping your neck warm at this time of year, since they are quick to make and easy to wear. Also, the smaller cowls only take a few balls of yarn so you may well have enough to start a new cowl right there in your stash basket.
They are perfect for many situations from casual walks by a lake or an evening out. However, there is one situation when there can be a problem with cowls – and that is when you want to wear them under a coat or jacket. Then you might find that they are trying to stick out from your body and refusing to fold neatly at the neckline.
There is fortunately an easy solution to that, but we need to go into the realms of mathematics to find it!
So think back to when you last wore a standard scarf under an overcoat. Did you cross one end over the other to form a neat 'V' shape? I don't suppose I am alone in doing that. It is just a perfect way to close up the gap at the top of your coat and also adds a double layer of knitted wonderment to keep cold drafts at bay.
And you can achieve that same neat fold in a looped cowl or scarf by simply adding a half-twist then joining the two ends together! It's such a simple technique but adds so much to the finished result. As you can see in the photos above, this forms a pleasing 'V' shape at the front while still allowing the scarf to curve smoothly around the back of your neck.
For those of you with a dim and distant memory of early Maths classes, you will probably remember the fun lesson where you did just this with a strip of paper then drew a pencil line along one side of it... Only to find it actually only had one side! Your pencil line went around and around and ended up exactly where you had started.
You had just made a Möbius / Moebius strip.
So how do we do this with knitting? Well the easiest way is to do exactly the same with your knitting as you did with your paper strip: knit double the length you want for your looped cowl or scarf then take one end, give it a half-twist and join the two ends together.
Then there are three methods for joining the ends together. Firstly, you could sew the cast-on and bind-off edges together. This would leave a visible seam but it is an easy method and can give a good result if the knitted fabric is fairly flat.
Another option is to begin your work with a Provisional Cast-On as I have in the photo above. Then you can work a 3-needle bind-off to join the beginning and end. This will also leave a noticeable seam but it isn't too obvious if you always make sure that it is at the back of your neck when you put it on.
The best way, however, is to graft the two edges invisibly together. Grafting used to be known as Kitchener stitch and if that thought fills you with dread, then the other methods can work very well. However, if you are using a well-textured pattern or a chunkier yarn, then grafting is by far the best way to go as you really can't see it when you have finished.
However, there is one other requirement for a Moebius Scarf and that is that you need to use a reversible knitting stitch. This sounds slightly odd for a garment with only one mathematical side! However, by definition both "sides" of the knitting will be on view so you really need to select a reversible stitch for this.
It doesn't matter what the stitch is, so you can have fun delving through collections such as our Reversible Knitting Stitches book for inspiration. For example, the cowl and scarf I am featuring in this blogpost use Mistake Rib from the book and this gives a beautifully cozy ribbed neckwarmer.
This same half-twist can also be applied to longer scarves. We usually refer to these as Infinity Scarves but the names are fairly interchangeable. Like their shorter counterparts, an Infinity Scarf sits beautifully flat with an elegant drape when just worn loosely like a long scarf.
However, they really come into their own when wrapped twice around your neck for extra warmth. The Moebius twist seems to make the fabric fold in a particularly appealing way, giving an intriguing shape and geometry to a simple scarf.
The scarf shown here is the Sawston Infinity Scarf and is worked in a hand-spun Bluefaced Leicester wool. Super-soft and cozy warm it is one of my favourite sheep breeds for a wrapped scarf such as this. I love the West Yorkshire Spinners "Bluefaced Leicester DK" yarn and that is what I used in the other examples in this blogpost. If you would like to try this yarn in your next project, you can find it here.
Soft, double-sided and with an interesting twist – what's not to love about Moebius Scarves?
I hope that has given you some inspiration for trying a Moebius Cowl or Infinity Scarf as your next project. If you'd like more information about the Sawston Cowl and Infinity Scarf knitting pattern, then please click here. The pattern includes instructions for both lengths, so you can start work on a shorter cowl or a longer Infinity Scarf straight away.
Next time, I will be back with a look at this year's hot-fashion trend: short scarves and buttoned neck-warmers.
So until then – Happy Knitting!
Last Blogpost: Time to knit a cowl