Dorigen Cowl by Karen Robinson

Dorigen Cowl

August 2014
Sport (12 wpi) ?
26 stitches and 36 rows = 4 inches
in Stockinette
US 5 - 3.75 mm
300 yards (274 m)
one size
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This pattern is available for $5.00 USD buy it now

Construction and Size
This cowl features a lace pattern and is knit in the round on circular needles in a sport weight yarn. The yarn used for this cowl creates a slight halo that softens the stitch pattern, creating a lush, feminine look, similar to the way Aurelius makes the rocks seem to disappear to alleviate Dorigen’s fears for her husband (see story below). Pattern includes both written directions as well as a chart for the lace section (which is also written out).

Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Skills needed: knitting in the round, yarn overs, decreases

US 5 / 3.75 mm 24” (60 cm) circular needle
Stitch marker

Thank you to my test knitters (e-connection, AlmaPark, PolymathKristi, rturnbull, and yayalovestoknit) and tech editor (kwunder) who provided valuable feedback.

About the Name
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales contains many stories which are told by a group of pilgrims who are traveling to Canterbury. The Franklin (basically, a landowner) tells the story of Dorigen and Arveragus, a married couple. Arveragus has to travel on business and Dorigen greatly fears for his safety, especially that he might shipwreck on the rocks along the coast. So she turns to Aurelius, a man who has actually been trying to woo her even though she is already married. She is not interested in Aurelius, but when he offers to make the rocks along the coast disappear in exchange for her love, she makes a rash promise and agrees. Aurelius doesn’t actually make the rocks disappear--he uses an illusion to make them seem like they have vanished.

Arveragus returns home safely and Aurelius comes to claim his payment. Dorigen is distressed since she loves her husband and doesn’t want to give Aurelius her love but also because she doesn’t want to go back on her word. And Arveragus agrees that her word should be honored and that she should go to Aurelius. When Aurelius finds out that Arveragus feels honorbound to keep his word, he decides to release Dorigen from her oath.

The Franklin ends his tale by asking which of the characters is most “free,” meaning who acted the most nobly. Dorigen did what she did out of love and worry for her husband. Her husband felt that their honor and keeping her oath was most important. And Aurelius agreed not to hold Dorigen to her word (which means it would not be dishonorable). So what do you think?

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