Arcite Cowl by Karen Robinson

Arcite Cowl

January 2015
Aran (8 wpi) ?
21 stitches and 40 rows = 4 inches
in Chart A pattern
US 8 - 5.0 mm
210 yards (192 m)
one size (22" x 7.5")
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This pattern is available for $5.00 USD buy it now

You know you have it--that skein of worsted weight yarn that looks so pretty because it has so many different colors. But you’ve tried several patterns and the variegated colors just aren’t working; perhaps you’ve thought about just leaving the yarn in a skein and using it for decoration. Although decorating with yarn is a lovely idea, give this cowl pattern (or the matching Palamon Hat) a try first as it was specifically designed to be used with variegated yarn.

Construction and Size
The slipped stitch patterns used in this cowl make it a great knit for variegated yarn as it will help break up the color. Semi-solids also work quite nicely. The middle section uses cables along with the slipped stitches, which gently pulls in the center portion of the cowl so it will fit snugly around your neck.

The cowl is knit in the round on circular needles in a worsted weight yarn. Pattern includes both written directions as well as charts.

Skill Level: Intermediate
Skills needed: knitting in the round, slipping stitches, working cables

US 8 (5.0 mm) 16” (40 cm) circular needle
Stitch marker
Cable needle


  • A video tutorial is available for the stitch pattern in Section A.
  • Thank you to my test knitters (megknitsalot, brncow, tempericia, affenhaus65, yayalovestoknit, and goodnurse) and tech editor (kwunder) who provided valuable feedback.

About the Name
Palamon and his cousin Arcite (pronounced ahr-see-tuh) are characters in “The Knight’s Tale,” part of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. The cousins have been captured after a battle, and their cell overlooks the gardens. A beautiful young woman named Emelye walks in the gardens, and both cousins fall in love with her.

After many years, the cousins fight a duel over Emelye (presided over by their captor, Duke Theseus), and the winner is to claim Emelye’s hand in marriage. Before the battle, everyone prays: Palamon for success in love, Arcite for success in battle, and Emelye to remain unmarried if possible, but if not then to at least marry the man who truly loves her. The gods (Venus, Mars, and Diana, respectively) argue about how to give everyone their wish. So (spoiler alert!), Arcite wins the battle (by wounding Palamon) but afterwards is thrown from his horse and mortally wounded. With his dying breath, he wishes Palamon and Emelye to marry and be happy. So they all get what they wanted (although really Emelye got her second option).

Matching Hat
The Palamon Hat is a companion piece to this cowl.

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