Whakairo Cowl by Francoise Danoy

Whakairo Cowl

Francoise Danoy's Ravelry Store
no longer available from 1 source show
February 2019
Fingering (14 wpi) ?
24 stitches and 40 rows = 4 inches
in in main stitch patterns with suggested needle size and after blocking.
US 5 - 3.75 mm
382 - 440 yards (349 - 402 m)
Width: 23 in./58.5 cm; Length: 22 in./56 cm.
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This pattern is available for $12.00 USD buy it now

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Whakairo is the art of wood carving in Maori culture, a prominent and respected role. Many traditional structures, such as the posts of wharenui (meeting houses) or the prow of a waka (canoe), and objects like the taiaha (weapons) are covered in this elaborate carved decoration. While it is a work of art, the carvings also tell a story. Whakairo requires patience and diligence and is a skill that many Maori continue to hone to both honour their heritage and carry the stories and lessons embedded in the carving forward.

Knitting, like whakairo, requires patience and diligence. I use knitting, specifically knitwear design, to honour my heritage and carry the stories, values, and lessons of my people forward. I wanted to create a piece to pay tribute to this art form, which I was able to recreate the feel through the usage of twisted stitches and cables for a fabric rich in texture.

On a personal note, some members of my family are wood-carvers, using their talents to decorate wharenui and marae.

The Whakairo cowl is worked bottom-up, starting at the cast-on tip, growing as a triangle until the desired width is achieved, then worked straight up to form the body around the neck. Buttons and buttonholes are then attached so you can close the piece. There are options to work the body in the round for a buttonless version or to turn it into a shawl.



  • 382 - 440 yd./360 - 400 m
  • Fingering/4-ply Dubai Knits Yara (80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon; 440 yd./400 m; 100 g). 1 skein in Damask.
  • This yarn has incredible stitch definition which really allows the cables and twisted stitches to pop and shine.


  • US 5/3.75 mm size or size needed to obtain gauge.


  • 24 sts x 40 rows per 4 in./10 cm in main stitch patterns with suggested needle size and after blocking.
  • One repeat of the center lace pattern (23 sts and 12 rows) equals 3.5 in./9 cm by 1.5 in./4 cm.


  • Five 21 mm buttons
  • 6/0 (3.5mm) crochet hook
  • Darning/tapestry needle
  • Sewing needle and scrap yarn for buttons


  • Width: 23 in./58.5 cm; Length: 22 in./56 cm.

Note: in the photos I am wearing a kirituhi stencil. Kirituhi was initially developed so that non-Māori could get “Māori-inspired” tattoos. For Māori, they are used for kapa haka performances and for wāhine to feel empowered—I use it as a forward expression of my cultural heritage without violating the specific mana and tikanga of tā moko. The mana of kirituhi is safe to wear as it is purposefully made to be a “generic” design.

Māori — Native people of New Zealand

Kirituhi — A Māori-inspired tattoo or marking

Kapa haka — Dance performance

Wāhine — Woman

Mana — Authority

Tā moko — A traditional permanent marking of the body and face

This pattern has been tech edited and test knit to ensure that the pattern is as clear, correct and consistent as it can be. However small details can still slip us by so if you have a pattern support question, send an email to fdanoy@arohaknits.com and we’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours.