o w l s. the pattern.


Yes, the o w l s pattern is ready. You can now download it as a PDF under ‘designs’ (see tabs at top of page). Later today I hope to be able to contact all of you who requested the pattern by email. I’ve encountered several wrongly-typed or rejected addresses on the list, so if you do not receive a message from me, it is not because I’m ignoring you — just please download the pattern here. I hope to soon have it listed as a ravelry download also.

A few things I wanted to say:

THANKS. Big thanks to my knitting comrades Hannah, Kate B, Melanie, and Ysolda, who have shared their champion knitting skills and technical expertise most generously. As with most things knitwise, this pattern has really benefited from collective knowledge and effort.

Short rows. The original o w l s featured Japanese short rows. These can be tricky to work in the round and (I discovered) it is even trickier to describe precisely how to work them in the round. The horror! There are some great online tutorials for working Japanese short rows back and forth (here, for example). But when you are working in the round, you encounter the turning point / gap in (as it were) the wrong direction, and face the tricksy problem of forcing the turned yarn back on itself, up onto the needle, and closing the gap by twisting the previous stitch so that it sits the wrong way round as well as knitting through a loop that is stretched to near breaking point. Sheesh! I take my proverbial hat off to anyone who has figured out a straightforward way to describe this. Anyway, for ease, clarity, and my general sanity, the pattern has reverted to good old ‘wrap and turn’ to work the short rows. This is certainly an easier method for beginners (and many people who have asked for the pattern have described themselves as beginner knitters). But I do like Japanese short rows (even though I can’t for the life of me describe how to close up their gaps in the round) and if you like them too, I recommend you use them in place of the wraps and turns the pattern includes.

Expertise. Lots of you have emailed me asking if o w l s is suitable for a beginner knitter, or as My First Sweater. ™ I would rate the design as reasonably easy, but while my pattern shows you how to make an owl sweater, it cannot teach you to knit. The pattern begins with a list of necessary skills. If you are familiar with the techniques on this list, you should be able knit the sweater.

Yarn rationale and working at different gauges. Many knitters are not fond of chunky yarn, either because it can be a rather blunt instrument, design-wise, or because of its general bulk. This pattern reduces bulk through the fit of the sweater and uses chunky yarn because 1) I wanted to be warm and 2) I wanted BIG owls. A chunky yarn produces several large, tall, owl cables standing proudly on the yoke. If you re-work the pattern for finer yarns and gauges, your owls will be smaller and perhaps a little less owlish. On the other hand, a finer yarn would produce more owls. This is always a bonus.

Labour. Value. Credit. Designers should be paid for what they do. For us to keep knitting the shawls and sweaters and socks that we love, we should be supporting our designers, and paying them in a way that reflects our appreciation and their hard work. To not do so devalues both their talents and their labour. It is the same issue as with other forms of work that are performed independently, or (in a rather different way) within the domestic sphere — such labour should be properly remunerated, and properly valued. This is why what Twist Collective is doing is so great, and I have no truck with those who churlishly complain on Ravelry and elsewhere about paying for individual patterns. Seriously, folks! Should your pleasurable hobby be the focus of designers’ charitable endeavours? I think not.

The pattern is available to buy here or here.

Thankyou. And enjoy your owls.

85 thoughts on “o w l s. the pattern.

  1. Thank you for putting up the owls pattern! Right now I’m trying to restrain myself from dashing right off to the LYS (which is just down the street from my office) to buy materials.

  2. Ahhh, thank you. Sadly I have no chunky yarn in my stash (serves me right for being a good girl and ignoring the JL sale) but I am thrilled to see the pattern. And congratulations on the Clothkits venture.

  3. I absolutely agree that designers should be paid for their work. My husband is a musician and music producer, and that attitude of “I want free stuff” has led to all the free downloading of music – with very little money going into the music business, there is very little money to pay for his services either from artists or record labels. He’s being slowly put out of business, and worse, wondering what to do now, since he has spent his whole life in the music business.

    So, I appreciate the free pattern, and would be happy to do something in return! I live in London, and we come up to Edinburgh once a year or so (rog is from Edinburgh), and would gladly bring anything up from London or bring anything down. Or invite you for lunch. Or anything that might be helpful.

  4. Hurrah!

    I suddenly wish I hadn’t already cast on two new projects today and go for a look around the stash to see what I have that would suit some owls.

    Thank you.

  5. My oh my. I just wound cakes for a different sweater last night, but I can’t resist Owls. Off to wind more wool.
    Thank you for offering this pattern free. I am looking forward to more of your designs and will be pleased to support you in your endeavors.

  6. Wow! Thank you so much for the use of your pattern! As someone who is more than happy to pay for good patterns, I appreciate your generosity – and agree whole-heartedly that you should charge knitters for the use of your work.

  7. Thank you so much – I have already cast on for this.

    You could put up a donation box somewhere and then people could choose to give you something for the pattern if they want to?

  8. You said grown ass, and I love you even more.

    Thanks for giving this to the knitters for free, and I appreciate your comments about that. When you offer a future pattern for sale, I’ll buy two to show my support. Maybe three. And Maggie’s old owl sweater is too small, so please let us know when those kiddo-sized kits become available.

  9. Thanks so much! I ordered all my supplies right after I downloaded the pattern. Can’t wait to get started! And I will happily pay for your future patterns (I would have happily paid for this one as well!). Keep up the lovely work!

  10. *Squeals of delight!*

    Those little guys are so stinking cute! I am itching to cast on for this sweater. (Need to find a creative way to bypass the No More Yarn prohibition in our house first.)

    I so appreciate your providing this version of the pattern for free and plan to purchase your kids pattern. Thanks also for catering to the newish knitters when writing the instructions. (Certainly increases my potential for a successful project!)

    I’ve never been to your site before–found you through the Tag Surfer function in wordpress. I’ll definitely be back. Thanks so much!

    Shannon Smith
    What the Craft?!

  11. How exciting! Haven’t read your notes yet, just saw that the owls have taken flight and now have a perfect excuse to head off to Get Knitted. Owls are much on my mind at the moment because an Eagle Owl that has made its home in the grounds of Bristol Uni. not far from where we live. So far no sightings for us, though it is in its tree on a daily basis. Perhaps if I head up there in an owly sweater I might get a glimpse. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful creation.

  12. Thank you for the thought put into all of this. O W L S is beautiful, and I look forward to having one of my own. Thank you for sharing and for the future patterns yet to come. I’m sure I’ll be purchasing my share!

  13. Thank you so much for this pattern. I have a few too many WIPs to start this just at the moment, but I’ve queued it and have already started recalculating for an aran weight yarn – probably I’ll use a nice heather mix or natural blend from New Lanark. (Having said that, I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep myself from casting on – it’s so lovely and would make a welcome change from all my 4 ply weight projects!)

  14. Thank you so much for your generosity. I look forward to your future endeavors and will certainly be happy to buy patterns from you!

  15. Hi! Thanks for the pattern! I found your blog a while ago and saw that you were going to write one up for this sweater. I love the owls…hopefully I can finish some other things I have on the needles now so I can get started on this one! I imagine it knits up quicker since you use bulky yarn. Oh and BTW, I would have no problem paying for the pattern. If I love something enough, I definitely drop the cash for it!

  16. Ha ha ha ha. I feel the same way – I don’t mind paying for a beautiful, innovative pattern – they take a lot of time. But I think certain thoughts about “patterns” that are just a stitch plugged into some other stitches that I could get from a stitch dictionary! Nice owls.

  17. What a thoughtful, informative, and well-written post. If the pattern is anything like it, it will be a breeze and I’ll have several of these sweaters running around frolicking.

    I look forward to your future designs and being able to support you properly.

  18. Thanks for sharing this pattern. Whilst I had every intention of waiting for cooler weather to cast on (sthn hemisphere and all) today IS all of a sudden cooler – low 20s after 40C weather. It’s a Sign. And I was THIS close to finishing other things!
    Looking forwards to more patterns.

  19. THANK YOU! I haven’t read the rest of the comments, but perhaps us knitters could donate to an owl sanctuary/ bird sanctuary in exchange for your pattern. Any wilderness preservation group would also benefit owls, just a thought.
    Love your previous posting on the environmental costs of our over consumption. My boyfriend and I have been buying consignment/secondhand clothing for the past two years. Not only have we found much higher quality clothing, we’ve saved quite a bit of money. We buy only when we need an item and always donate clothing we no longer wear.

  20. Thank you so much for the gift of your beautiful ‘Owls’. It is really beautiful!

    I will be checking your website and Ravelry for the next pay-per-pattern design you make to support your work.


  21. Thank you so much for sharing with us, your honesty and integrity are definitely appreciated. I can’t wait to make mine and I hope I can support you in the future with your design adventures. Thanks again!

  22. Wonderful!!! Thank you so much, I looove this pattern and can’t wait to knit it for my sister! I just know that she’ll be beautiful covered with owls! ;)

  23. Thankyou for this pattern, I’m itching to get started on it. I look forward to your future patterns and will be delighted to pay for them if they are half as lovely as this one.

  24. Thank you very much for taking the time to write up this lovely pattern! Not sure when I’ll get round to knitting it, but I’ve downloaded it and squirrelled it away for future use (I just can’t resist stuff with birds on).

    I’ll keep an eye out for the Clothkits kit – all my friends seem to be reproducing at the moment so I’m sure a kids’ version would make a wonderful gift somewhere down the line.

    I absolutely agree that designers should be paid for the immense amount of work they put in – when we’re paying £30-£40 for good-quality yarn for a sweater, why begrudge a few quid for a stunning pattern?

    I’m not in Edinburgh very often but next time I am if you happen to be around maybe I could buy you a coffee (or something stronger!).

  25. Thank you so much! I wish I had some chunky in my stash – must rectify that appalling oversight :) and I’ll be reading up on the Japanese short rows – they sound like a great way of doing things.

  26. Thank you for the pattern, I am going to wait (as I have so much on the needles and need to find a child to knit it for!!)and get ot from clothkits as a kit. :)

  27. Thank you for the patter, your patterns and photography are just beautiful. I have always loved Owls and collect them from all over the world. I can’t wait to make this. Thank you thank you!

  28. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the fantastic pattern! It’s just perfect. The Clothkits news is *very* exciting too – many congratulations on your knitterly success! I look forward to the next installment of your creativity.

  29. Impressed by your generous sharing. Absolutely agree with you on the need to regard people properly for their work. And delighted to read about the Clothkits endeavour because I think I just might be able to get my head around child sized knitting…after the Clothkits doll that is waiting for some attention.

  30. Thank you for the free pattern- I appreciate your compromise for this pattern, but even though the owls are “out there,” I would still be happy to pay for something so wonderful. I discovered the owls a while back, and was quite sad (not having a designing bent myself) that I could not find an adult pattern that used them… until now. As Elizabeth Zimmerman put it, knitting design is about “unventing”- no doubt someone somewhere has done most of what we can come up with using yarn- but using those ideas in great new ways is also innovative. And also- we pay for novel ideas- sure- but also for the hard work of putting a pattern together!

  31. Thank you so much for the pattern.
    The sweather is now finished, and I hope it will be cold enough to wear it to work tomorrow.

    Thanks again!

  32. Please keep me posted about the availability of the owls in children’s sizes. I would definitely purchase at least one kit.

  33. THANK YOU! I was one who didn’t get the email – so i am so glad it is here! I am eagerly looking forward to the kit for kids and if possible can an email be sent when it is available for purchase?

  34. Hi – I have knitted this sweater for so many babies in my life…..and all of a sudden we are having our first grandchild and for the life of me I can not find my instructions!!!! What timing!! I have tried to find it under designs up top and can not see it??!! Is there another way of retrieving the pattern? I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE IT AGAIN! Soooooo many thanks in advance! Susie Disston

  35. Thanks so much for sharing your brilliant pattern. I didn’t get an email and am delighted to have just discovered its availability. I think there are going to be some wonderful owls around!

  36. Hi!

    Thank you very much for giving us the pattern of this so cute pull. I send everything to my grand mother because I am too novice at the moment to do it myself. I will sure send you a picture of the result to take part with the owls parliament.

    Sorry for my english, if I resume I just want to say thank you.

  37. I have to admit I skimmed this post, and thus missed your thoughtful paragraphs on labour and value, the first time I read it. Happily, a commenter on my blog just directed me back, and I’m glad she did. Hear! hear!

  38. hi kate, I made a hat from your superb owls sweater. For the owls schema, I put a link to your explanation, but it had became inaccessible (I respect your choice and I agree completely) so I would like know if I could place your schema in my explanations and linking to your blog.
    thank in advance and thank you for everything you do.

  39. Dear Kat,
    I love the little owls on this sweater and I have been searching for this free pattern all day, but I can not find the correct link. I am looking for a sweater to knit over the summer, please e-mail the pattern to me.
    Thank you very much.

  40. Just to say thank you for Owlet — I’ve just started it for my daughter, and am so excited. I’m doing mine in Spud & Chloe Cider, a warm brownish-orange, which seems suitably owlish.

    And as a professional fiction writer, I sympathize with the intellectual property issues. I’m pleased that I paid for my copy of Owlet — and even talked a few other folks into doing so; we’ve started a local knit-a-long with your sweater.

  41. My 2 year old loves owl and I would love to purchase this pattern. This may be a stupid question, but are there any extra fees if I use a credit card from the US? Thanks!

  42. I love this pattern, it’s so cute! I would love to be able to knit this and would very happily buy the it if I was sure it was suitable for me to attempt – seen as I’m a very inexperienced knitter. The one project I made was a cable stitch cushion cover; which consisted of knitting pearling cabling and casting off. In her description, Kate Davies says that the pattern is “reasonably easy” but there is “a list of necessary skills” which you have to be capable of. Could anyone who has the pattern tell me what these skills are please?
    Thanks a lot.

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)