This cowl uses a leaf and flower motif to represent the maiden Blodeuwedd, who was created by two magicians from flowers so she wouldn’t be considered a “human” woman and thus could marry Lleu Llaw Gyffes. The pattern is both fully written out and charted, so you can use whichever type of directions works best for you.
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Skills needed: knitting in the round, decreases (k2tog, ssk, p3tog, sl2-k1-psso), and yarn overs
Round Table Yarns Tristan (100% superwash Merino wool, 328 yds/300 m per 100 g); 1 skein; sample uses colorway “A fair lady and passing wise”
or 250 yds (229 m) of another sport weight yarn
US 5 (3.75 mm) 16” (40 cm) circular needle, or size needed to obtain gauge
24 stitches and 38 rounds over 4” (10 cm) in stockinette in the round, blocked (note: designer is a tight knitter)
23” (58 cm) circumference and 8.5” (22 cm) tall
Thank you to my test knitters (rturnbull, Jaxdrisc, tweeks9394, Craftmouse, TheKnittyMuggins, and CrazierThanMyCat) who provided valuable feedback. And thank you to the women of Stitch Definition, who provided photography (Anne Podlesak), tech editing (Maureen Hannon), and graphic design/layout (Elizabeth Green).
The Story Behind the Name
The character Blodeuwedd is found in one of the stories in the Welsh Mabinogion. Arianrhod has placed her son, Lleu Llaw Gyffes, under a curse so he cannot marry a human woman. Some magicians decide to bypass this curse by creating a woman who is not human. They take several flowers, from the oak, meadowsweet, and broom, and turn those into the form of a woman, whom they name Blodeuwedd.
Even though she is a creation of these magicians, Blodeuwedd is not bound within their control and is able to make her own choices. So although she has married Lleu, she has an affair with another man and the two conspire to murder her husband. But just as Lleu couldn’t marry a human woman, he also can’t be killed easily. For example, he can’t be killed during the day or during the night and he can’t be killed while naked or while wearing clothes. Blodeuwedd is able to get Lleu to tell her what the conditions need to be so he can be killed (for example, at dusk, wrapped in a net) and then arranges for his death.
Instead of dying when Blodeuwedd’s lover strikes Lleu with a spear, he turns into a bird and flies away. One of the magicians finds Lleu and transforms him back into a human, nursing him back to health. When Blodeuwedd is caught, she is transformed into an owl as punishment. Her lover is killed by Lleu.