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Wave at the Rainbow Cowl

By: Stephanie Lotven, excerpted from Knit Happy with Self-Striping Yarn
Updated February 01, 2021
Wave at the Rainbow Cowl
Wave at the Rainbow Cowl
This image courtesy of

Cowls are like the sprinkles on a cupcake. They add a little bit of extra oomph that makes everything look bright and happy. The Wave at the Rainbow Cowl is the perfect place to showcase a really spectacular skein of yarn and give your outfit some extra brightness. The regular increases and decreases in this cowl bend the stripes to create a lovely wave effect without distracting from the beauty of the yarn. You will be shocked at how quickly this cowl flies off the needles. 


Knitting Needle Size4 or 3.5 mm, 6 or 4 mm

Gauge28 stitches and 34 rounds = 4 inches (10 cm) in wave pattern after blocking on LARGER needles 

Finished SizeLength: 16.5 inches (41.5 cm); Circumference: 23 inches (57.5 cm)

Materials List

  • Yarn

    Fingering weight yarn, Fab Funky Fibres

    (75% superwash merino and 25% nylon, 370 yards / 2.8 ounces [338 m / 80 g])

    Sample shown in “Walking on Rainbows” (MC) and “Charcoal” (CC)

    1 skein of MC and 1 skein of CC

    Main Color: 464 yards (424 m)

    Contrasting Color: 70 yards (64 m)

  • US 6 (4 mm) 24-inch (60-cm) circular needles, or as required to meet gauge 
  • US 5 (3.5 mm) 24-inch (60-cm) circular needles 
  • 1 stitch marker 
  • Scissors
  • Tapestry needle 
  • Tape measure


Before You Begin

Construction: This pattern is knit seamlessly in the round from end to end. 

Maximum Stitches Used for a Self-Striping Round: 160 

Yarn Notes: This pattern was knit using a particularly exciting yarn that has no color repeats. Every color in the self-striping yarn is used only once, so the color run is the entire skein. 


BOR: beginning of round 
CC: contrasting color 
CO: cast on 
k: knit 
k2tog: knit two together 
m: marker 
MC: main color 
m1L: make one left 
m1R: make one right 
p: purl 
rep: repeat 
ssk: slip, slip, knit 
st(s): stitch(es) 
wyib: with yarn in back 


  1. Using SMALLER needles and CC, CO 160 sts. Place a BOR marker and join to work in the round. 

  2. Work 1x1 ribbing (k1, p1) until your work measures 1.5 inches (4 cm). Break yarn, leaving a 6-inch (15-cm) tail. 

  3. Change to LARGER needles and join MC. In the following round, you will move the BOR marker one st to the left at the end of the round. 

  4. Set-Up Round: Knit to end of round, remove BOR m, sl1p wyib, replace BOR m. 

  5. Rep Rounds 1–18 of the Wave at the Rainbow chart (see below) until your work measures approximately 15 inches (37.5 cm) or your desired length. 

  6. K one round. Break yarn, leaving a 6-inch (15-cm) tail. 

  7. Note: If you are trying to maximize your yardage, you don’t have to finish on Round 18. To create a clean, beautifully finished cowl, I recommend ending after completing either Round 9 or Round 18. Just remember to leave enough yardage to work the final knit round.

  8. Change to SMALLER needles and join CC. 

  9. K one round. 

  10. Work 1x1 ribbing (k1, p1) until ribbing measures 1.5 inches (4 cm). BO all sts in pattern. Break yarn, leaving a 6-inch (15-cm) tail. 


Weave in all ends. For the best results, be sure to wet block your finished cowl. Soak the cowl in cold water, squeezing to remove air bubbles. Squeeze out the water, but do not wring. Roll the cowl in a dry towel, burrito- style, and press on it to remove excess water. Lay the cowl flat to dry, using a measuring tape to be sure it is laid out with the correct dimensions. 

Written Instructions for the Chart

  1. Round 1: (M1L, k8, k2tog) 16 times. 

  2. Round 2: (K1, m1L, k7, k2tog) 16 times. 

  3. Round 3: (K2, m1L, k6, k2tog) 16 times. 

  4. Round 4: (K3, m1L, k5, k2tog) 16 times. 

  5. Round 5: (K4, m1L, k4, k2tog) 16 times. 

  6. Round 6: (K5, m1L, k3, k2tog) 16 times. 

  7. Round 7: (K6, m1L, k2, k2tog) 16 times. 

  8. Round 8: (K7, m1L, k1, k2tog) 16 times. 

  9. Round 9: (K8, m1L, k2tog) 16 times. 

  10. Round 10: (Ssk, k8, m1R) 16 times. 

  11. Round 11: (Ssk, k7, m1R, k1) 16 times. 

  12. Round 12: (Ssk, k6, m1R, k2) 16 times. 

  13. Round 13: (Ssk, k5, m1R, k3) 16 times. 

  14. Round 14: (Ssk, k4, m1R, k5) 16 times.

  15. Round 15: (Ssk, k3, m1R, k5) 16 times. 

  16. Round 16: (Ssk, k2, m1R, k6) 16 times.  

  17. Round 17: (Ssk, k1, m1R, k7) 16 times. 

  18. Round 18: (Ssk, m1R, k8) 16 times. 

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