While we were in the Highlands, we took the opportunity to photograph a design I’ve had ready for a while: the Sixareen Cape.


I started knitting this Fair Isle wrap last October. You may remember that at that time I’d just designed a hat especially for Shetland wool week (The Sixareen Kep) using Jamieson and Smith’s wonderful Shetland Heritage Yarn.

(Sixareen Kep at my Shetland Wool Week Workshop, modelled by Tania Ashton-Jones. Photo courtesy Charlotte Monckton)

Around that time, I was getting a lot of wear out of a circular wrap I’d purchased from Toast (which I am wearing in the photograph above). This wrap was a sort of deep tube with raglan shaping, and I was surprised at how versatile a thing it was. It was a scarf, a cowl, a snood, and very nearly a sweater. I wore it scrunched up inside a coat when I was outside walking Bruce, I wore it wrapped about me inside the house when I needed another layer, and I wore it thrown on over a suit jacket when a little extra warmth was required outside. I liked it so much that I decided to design my own version featuring a deep Fair Isle border of the same chart design I’d used for the Kep, which I’d been very pleased with. This was the result.


The border of the circularly-knit ‘cape’ features three repeats of the ‘kep’ chart. Its a design I’ve come across in several Shetland sources, and, if you look at it, you’ll see that it is an interestingly stretched-out and squashed incarnation of a traditional OXO motif. There are several things I find really pleasing about this chart. The background is unusually spacious for a Fair Isle motif (there are stretches of 7 stitches in some places), and there’s something about this space that allows the different shades to sing. Because of this, when repeated, the motif develops a shimmering near-kaleidoscopic quality, which I really love.


The heritage yarn is amazingly soft, and wonderful to work with. It is the perfect yarn for traditional Fair Isle, but it also has a marvelous drapey quality which makes it absolutely ideal for this kind of garment. The plain stockinette portion is knitted at a slightly looser gauge to enhance the drape, allowing the garment to be worn in several different ways.

It can be worn scrunched up, cowl-like around the neck . . .


Pulled forward, collar-like, around the shoulders . . .


Or pulled down, cape-like, around the torso . . .


Decreases are worked through the plain stockinette part of the garment in exactly the same way as the shaping of a raglan sweater.


. . . and the end result is a striking and versatile wrap that is also great at warding off chilly highland breezes.


These photographs were taken above Rannoch Moor on a truly beautiful evening.


The cape comes in seven sizes, with a circumference of 45″ to 59″. It is fitted by measuring the wearer’s total shoulder circumference, and it should be worn with at least 2 inches of positive ease, to allow the wearing of layers underneath. If you would prefer a deeper or shallower wrap, the length is easily adjusted following the instructions in the pattern.

The Sixareen Cape is now available to purchase digitally through Ravelry and you can also purchase the pattern in print, to be shipped directly to you, (wherever in the world you are) via my Mag Cloud store.

66 thoughts on “Sixareen Cape

  1. Very exciting concept! This winter I have been wearing a crocheted ‘capelette’ (that I made years ago) and then put a twice wrapped infinity scarf on top of it around my neck. Your design puts the two parts together. Brilliant.


  2. I bought the pattern last week & a rainbow of Baby Ull yarn yesterday. I can’t get the Shetland wool locally, but I think the substitution will work beautifully. Another substitution: I’m using eggplant in place of the wine-red. Can’t wait to cast on!


  3. I bought this pattern yesterday & am eager to get the yarn to cast on. My only worry is that the cape will be a bit confining in that you can’t really raise your arms wearing it. It may be great to pose in, or to use at home to sit in to read, but how practical will it be. I had that problem with a poncho I made once. I’ll make it anyway, simply because it’s so pretty, but would anyone share their actual wearing experience. Thanks, Kate, for another beautiful design.


  4. This is truly a thing of JOY. I really love the bright colours, and how iridescent they appear in the bright, early spring sunshine – especially those yellows and reds popping against the blue…

    You are quite right that the elongated pattern really allows the shades to shine through, and I love how you have made this traditional Shetland motif so contemporary and wearable.

    HUZZAH for another genius KDD release! x


  5. It’s gorgeous Kate – I get the Toast catalogue just to see what I can have a go at making myself from it :) I’m a novice at fair isle knitting but between this and your recent Ursula cardigan … I can see I’m going to have to get better!


  6. Oh, this is exactly what I need. I am frequently wearing a cowl and shawl or neck scarf and shawl around the house! Thanks Kate!


  7. Never mind “gorgeous”, how about “outrageous”? I didn’t know I needed this until I saw it. Now I NEED it. Have you no respect for my knitting queue?! I just love the idea of a multi-functional garment that defies definition. And this is beautiful.


  8. You did post a picture from Rannoch Moor.I feel like I know exactly where you are standing. Yea! The design, pattern and colors are lovely. Must finish Northmavine Hap first…


  9. Oh, wow. It’s really stunning. I told myself I would take a bit of a Kate Davies break after I finish my Funchal Moebius… but you make it so hard! You’re such a talented lady!


  10. This is really lovely. I haven’t knitted any Fair Isle for many years. My mother used to always have a basket full of wool beside her and always had a Fair Isle project on the go, so your blog is bringing back some happy memories to me. I have just ordered this pattern and can’t wait to start knitting! Thank you.


  11. Breath-taking ! You never stop pushing the boundaries! When I saw your ‘kep’ I just knew something was brewing. I love the cape just as much ! Kep & Cape… what a duo.


  12. Kate
    This is gorgeous, I want one now!!
    It is dark windy and dreary with whipping rain at my house today making me itch to press “buy” right now.
    You are so creative, I am in awe


  13. What a lovely design and what nice colors! Also, given Bruce’s previous post about the coldcoldcold weather, I hope that you stayed warm enough for the photo shoot. Or at least had a Giant Cup of Tea afterward.


  14. The close-up shot really shows the amazing play of color, just as the other pictures show the versatility of the garment. Well done! Love the blue dress, too.


  15. The ‘old’ is indeed ‘new’ and what a treat! Exactly what is needed at this time of year when March is so confused weather wise. Yes, paraphrasing what Marilyn said above, you are our wonder of the world :)


  16. Cape is gorgeous, as is the MagCloud page. It’s good that many of your patterns are now available in a lovely, high-quality printed version. Very lovely.


  17. This is exactly the type of versatile garment I need as I need a little something extra around my shoulders. Thank you, dear Kate, for this lovely design.


  18. Lovely work, as always, Kate. I was struck by the colors. To me, they resembled Southwest US desert landscapes and sky, adobe and turquoise. Very versatile garment. I think you are a wonder of the world.


  19. I’ve been pondering this, and I think it’s a form of tonnag. A cape covering the shoulders, in the gaelic. I had a plaid one when I was about ten, and everyone was very adamant that it was absolutely not a poncho. So hello, the Sixareen tonnag… (Old Norse would be more apt, but I’m not sure there’s an equivalent.)


    1. Yes, I had a tonnag which I loved when I was a teenager. It was hand woven and naturally dyed and very warm and comfortable. My daughter loved it when she was a teenager and now it belongs to her. Such a very practical garment – no trailing bits.


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