The Sand and Dot Stitch Cowls

Trio of cowls in sand and dot stitch

In this series of posts, I began with a stitch pattern, thinking about its qualities and how they would result in fabric. Then I made a swatch to see if I liked working the stitch pattern and see if I was right about what it could do. With that information in hand I decided on a project, and made more swatches to explore how to put the stitch pattern to work. Now we’ll bring the series to a conclusion with the projects themselves.

Cowl Calculations

I measured the stitch and row gauge of Swatch 1: 13 sts and 20 rows / 4 inches [10 cm]. To get the number of stitches in 1 inch, I divided 13 by 4 to get 3.25 stitches per inch (SPI). I have 126 yards of chunky weight yarn; not enough for a long cowl but I can probably get a short one of decent width with that amount.

So how many inches around IS a short cowl? Adult heads are usually between 18 to 25 inches around, with necks being of course a lot less. I settled on a number approximately twice around the head: 40 inches.

To find out how many to cast on, I multiplied the SPI of 3.25 by 40, the number of inches I want. 3.25 x 40 = 130 stitches. Like its Seed stitch parent, Sand/Dot has a repeat of 2 stitches when worked flat. Since I wanted to work in the round, I needed to consider whether the stitch pattern needed any modifications.

Flat to Circular in Seed Stitch Patterns

Seed stitch patterns are like checkerboards with alternating red and black squares: purl stitch above knit stitch, knit stitch above purl stitch. If a round begins with a knit stitch, the first stitch of the round above needs to be a purl, and vice versa.

Round 1: [k1, p1] to end of rnd.
Round 2: [p1, k1] to end of rnd.

However, working in the round is not truly working in a circle, but instead is a spiral. The last stitch of a round butts up against the first stitch of the next round, not the current round. Over an even number of stitches, the repeat of Round 1 would end with a purl stitch and the first stitch of Round 2 would begin with  one, putting two purl stitches next to each other. What to do??? Work over an odd number of stitches instead.

Seed Stitch in the round is thus said to be a repeat of 2 stitches, plus 1 stitch. While Sand/Dot stitch has rows/round “between” the seed stitch portions that might visually disguise the purl-next-to-purl problem, I decided it would help me stay in pattern to work over an odd number of stitches, and added 1 stitch to my 130-stitch calculation.

Working Method

I like the look of both stitch patterns, but I do like knitting a bit more than purling. For this double-sided cowl, there was no reason not to work Dot stitch, with its easier-for-me Rows 1 and 3  of knitting. If I want the Sand stitch side as the RS, I simply turn the cowl inside out!

Below you’ll find the line by line instructions for each cowl, with commentary about some choices I made for each. I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the design process, and give it a try yourself. I’d love to see the results!


Pebbles on the Beach

This cowl was derived from Swatch 1. On it you can see the fabric curls slightly to the Dot stitch side. To counter that curl I decided to purl the first round after the cast-on. Since there isn’t a bind off with the same baby picot look as the cast-on, I opted for the opposite texture and used a rolled stockinette top border.

Using  US 10 [6.0 mm] circular needle and Faux Channel Island Cast-On, cast on 131 stitches. Join for working in the round, making sure the work is not twisted. Purl one round.

Rounds 1 and 3: knit.
Round 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.

Repeat Rounds 1-4 seven times. Knit 3 rounds; bind off.


Pebble Pathways

This cowl was derived from Swatch 2. Since it alternates Sand and Dot, thus curving slightly from RS to WS in welts, I decided it didn’t need any special border treatments.

Using  US 10 [6.0 mm] circular needle and Faux Channel Island Cast-On, cast on 131 stitches. Join for working in the round, making sure the work is not twisted.

Rounds 1 and 3: knit.
Round 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.
Round 5: knit.
Rounds 6 and 8: purl.
Round 7: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 9: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.
Round 10: purl.

Repeat rounds 1-10 twice, 30 rows total. Bind off.


Lines in the Sand

This cowl was derived from Swatch 3. It features a central panel of Sand/Dot stitch, and has symmetrical borders top and bottom, albeit with slightly different looks top and bottom. As with Pebbles on a Beach, I chose to work with the Dot stitch side facing me. For the bottom border I used the same cast-on and purl round combo as for Pebbles on the Beach, plus one repeat of the Dot stitch before a 3-round band of purls (knits on the other side). For the top border, I worked another 3-round band of purls, then one repeat of Dot stitch, and bound off purling.

Using  US 10 [6.0 mm] circular needle and Faux Channel Island Cast-On, cast on 131 stitches. Join for working in the round, making sure the work is not twisted. Purl 1 round.

Rounds 1, 3, 5: knit.
Round 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.
Rounds 6-8: Purl.

Repeat Rounds 1-4 three times, then Round 5 once. Repeat Rounds 6-8 once. Repeat Rounds 1-5 once. Purling, bind off.

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