Tolt River Cowl Guided Tour: Casting On

If you’re following along, you’ve picked out a yarn you’d like to try, and swatched for the Tolt River Cowl. Today, in this guided tour of the Tolt River Cowl, I’m talking about really getting started with the project - casting on.

Cast-on Method

I used the standard long-tail cast-on because it’s my go-to method unless I’m working 1x1 ribbing (in which case I adore a tubular cast-on). If you’ve got a preferred method, go for it. You will want to keep it somewhat loose, so just keep those stitches from being too scrunched together as you cast on.


  • The first set of numbers is for the DK weight version and the second set (in parenthesis) is for worsted.

  • I really recommend doing this on a 16 in/40 cm circular needle. If you use a longer one you’re likely to end up frustrated because the stitches have to stretch out to get around your cord, making everything tight and awkward.

  • The bottom-edge ribbing is pretty slender (just a few rounds), but feel free to add a bit of extra ribbing there if you’d like. In my samples the bottom edge doesn't curl under, but different yarns may behave differently.

  • Be sure to cast on with Colour A.

  • After completing the ribbing, be sure to work that single round of Colour B before starting in on the Colourwork Section. To join a new colour, just insert your needle and draw the new yarn through in any way you can. That first stitch will be floppy and weird, but you’ll be able to tighten it up when you weave in your ends. Leave Colour A hanging on the WS while you work that plain round in Colour B.

  • When you swatched, you discovered whether you need to work the colourwork sections on a larger needle. If you do need to go up a needle size or two, you can either switch on the first round of the chart (just start knitting with the bigger needle until all the stitches are off the smaller on) or, if you feel a little stressed by the whole colourwork thing already, you can work that first round with the smaller needle and switch to the larger needle on the second round just to break up the challenging bits.


Changing the Circumference

It’s pretty easy to modify the circumference of the cowl because the chart is only a 6-stitch repeat. So you can add more or fewer repeats in order to get a different size or use a different gauge. However, keep in mind that the ribbing is 2x2 (a multiple of 4), so that means you either have to have a cast-on number that’s a multiple of 6 and a multiple of 4 or you could do 1x1 or 3x3 ribbing instead so that you could just use any multiple of 6.

For example, if I wanted to add a single 6-stitch pattern repeat to the DK weight version, that would be 126 stitches. 126 ÷ 6 = 21. It goes in evenly, so that’s great! But 126 ÷ 4 = 31.5. It doesn’t go in evenly. You could either add an additional repeat since 132 is divisible by both 6 and 4, or you could work the ribbing in 1x1 rib (126 is an even number, so 1x1 rib, a 2-stitch pattern, works) or in 3x3 rib, a multiple of 6.

Modifying for a Different Gauge

If you’ve got a different gauge than called for in the pattern and you really like the fabric, you can still work with that because the pattern is relatively simple. You just need enough stitches to get the desired circumference (19.25-20 inches/49-51 cm), plus that number should ideally be a multiple of 4 and 6.

For example, say I want to use a fingering weight yarn and I get 26 sts = 4 in/10 cm. That’s 6.5 sts = 1 in/2.5 cm. (I’m going to use inches here to keep it simple.) Here’s my math:

6.5 (st gauge per inch) x 20 (circumference) = 130 (proposed cast-on number)

130 isn’t actually divisible by either 4 or 6, but 132 is divisible by both! So I think I’ll cast on 132. But before I do, I want to double check that I’m okay with the circumference I’ll get.

132 (cast-on number) ÷ 6.5 (st gauge per inch) = 20.3 inches (circumference)

That’s pretty close to my desired 20 inches, so that works for me!

In the next post I’ll talk all about colourwork and how to make it more successful!

Tolt River Cowl
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Other Tolt River Guided Tour Posts

  1. Choosing Yarn

  2. Swatching

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