are you mustarded out yet?  i promise, PROMISE this is the last time i talk about mustard here for awhile.  i just had so much mustard material left over from my intended grown-up projects turned kid projects.  the lighting is so bad in these  pictures, i probably could have fooled you into thinking this wasn’t mustard anyway, but i couldn’t resist the name. since last week we did a nice chunky cowl, i thought this week we’d switch it up for something a little lighter (but still knits up fast!).  maybe you live somewhere without arctic blasts in your face for 6 months of the year (i don’t miss that), or maybe you’d like something for fall or spring.  anyway, here’s something different. again, this is a beginner level knit!  all in seed stitch (knit and purl stitches) and knit in the round.  if you have never done that before, this is a great first project to try since (unlike a hat) there are no decreases or switches to double point needles.  i’ll also show you my favorite stretchy bind off technique that is very simple and great to know for sleeve and sock cuffs as well as this cowl and many other projects.  here we go!


  • one skein medium weight yarn (170 yards is more than enough)
  • size 9, 12 inch circular needles
  • tapestry needle


  • knit and purl stitches
  • cast on
  • bind off
  • that’s it.  again.

note:  medium weight yarn is available in PLENTY at your local craft store if you’re looking for a budget brand.  i happened to use vanna’s choice because i had it on hand, but you can certainly find softer and even cheaper options at your neighborhood michaels or joanne’s. this cowl will be worked entirely in seed stitch, which produces a lovely, delicate texture in this weight of yarn.  seed stitch is a personal favorite of mine and i use it often as a decorative stripe in sweaters or as a sleeve cuff or hem, but it definitely deserves a whole piece all to itself.  just remember, you want to knit the purl stitches, purl the knit stitches.  again, you’ll be creating idential fabric on the back and front.

  • row 1:  k1, p1
  • row 2:  p1, k1
  • repeat!

this pattern is based on a gauge of 3 stitches/inch. cast on 63 stitches–again, my preference is the long tail method.  once you have all 63 stitches, you will join them to work in the round.  if you are new to knitting in the round, here are a few tips:

  • make sure your stitches are not twisted.  before you join, put all of your loops facing out, and your cast on edge facing inside the circle you’re making with your needles (see photo below).
  • it’s much better to have shorter needles than suggested vs. longer needles.  if your cord is too long, you won’t be able to stretch the stitches to join them in the round.  i’ve tried.  multiple times.  the first time i bought circular needles, i didn’t realize they came in different lengths.  don’t make that mistake!  it should be on the package next to the size of needle.
  • many patterns will ask you to place a marker at the start of the round.  each time you come to the marker, you slide it to the opposite needle.  the first few times i placed a marker, i just kept knitting without sliding it so it was worked into the piece and i didn’t understand the point!
  • not relevant to this pattern, but unlike knitting on straight needles, if you knit in the round, you get stockinette stitch by knitting and knitting forever and ever, not knitting the right side and purling the wrong side.  like magic!


so, making sure your stitches aren’t twisted, join your stitches to begin working in the round in seed stitch.  see how all the stitch loops are facing out, and the cast on edge is facing in?  then you just round your needles into a circle and join the two sides–the yarn is right there waiting for me to dig in with my first knit stitch.  you can place a marker if you want (a little loop of yarn will do), but it’s not critical since we won’t be doing any decreases.  i usually use my long tail as a reminder of my round. continue in seed stitch until your piece measures 10 inches top to bottom. now, for my favorite stretchy bind off.  if you bind off normally, even loosely, even on larger needles, you’re still left with an inflexible edge that runs the risk of not fitting over your face.  the first time i made sleeve cuffs, coincidentally also in seed stitch, i was devastated when i couldn’t figure out how to make them fit over tiny baby hands.  i ended up with weird, wavy cuffs composed of big, floppy stitches and several holes from making new stitches.  don’t let it happen to you!  use this brilliant sewn bind off (don’t be skeptical because i said sewn!) by the world master of knitting, elizabeth zimmerman.  her book, very aptly titled “knitting without tears” (though i’m more likely to throw things in anger than weep) totally revolutionized my knitting.

PicMonkey Collage

here’s what you’re seeing (the pink thing is a place marker so we know we’re looking at the end of the round):

  1. once you reach the end of your round making your piece 10″ tall, cut a length of yarn 3x the distance you need to bind off.  in this case, our piece measure 21″ around, so we want to cut a length 63″, still attached to your cowl.  thread the length onto your tapestry needle.  now, thread your tapestry needle through the first two stitches in the round, pulling the length of yarn all the way through.
  2. put your tapestry needle back through ONLY the first, right most stitch, and pull all the way through.  make sure you don’t catch anything but the stitch.  also, please ignore my chipped nail polish.  eek!  i couldn’t crop it out without damaging the photo.
  3. slide the first, right most stitch ONLY off the needle.
  4. the arrow indicates your bound-off stitch.

repeat this until all of your stitches are bound off.  each time, you go in through the first two stitches, out through the right most stitch.  it will start to look like the above photo.  once you pull through the final stitch, weave in loose ends.  you’re done!

3 Comments on cowl countdown to christmas, week 2: mustard seed cowl

  1. hi barbra,
    i’m so sorry about this–there seems to be some sort of malfunction with my photo archives on wordpress. i have sent a message to them but it might take some time to get it sorted with the holidays. i will send you a personal email and we can try to figure out what pictures to get your way!

1Pingbacks & Trackbacks on cowl countdown to christmas, week 2: mustard seed cowl

  1. […] 13. you need to use a stretchy bind off for the sleeve, or those precious pudgy little hands won’t fit through the opening and your hard work will be dashed!  so was the frantic end to my first top down project, before i was aware of my favorite stretchy bindoff dreamed up by knitting goddess elizabeth zimmerman, the sewn bindoff.  if you are not familiar, i provide a tutorial of this method in my mustard seed cowl post. […]

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