O w l s

Recently Kate suggested that for my next project I could have a go at her iconic Owls sweater pattern. Now, as you will know if you have been following my learn to knit journey, it had only been three months since I had picked up the needles again so a sweater felt like a mighty challenge (never mind a sweater with cable owls!).

Not one to shy away from a challenge, I cast on in a beautiful shade of New Lanark Chunky ‘Blossom’, which coincided perfectly with the arrival of the soft pink cherry blossom appearing on the avenue outside my home.


It’s only three tubes, I told myself, as I knit the body of my sweater. I will worry about the cable owls when I get there. The body and sleeves grew fairly quickly, and soon I had my three tubes.


Having joined the yoke, I looked out my new cable needle and embarked upon fashioning the happy little owls I had spent hours studying photos of. I just couldn’t imagine how they appeared! After a few rounds it fell into place in my brain. It’s still the knits and purls I know, just worked in a different order. I am utterly fascinated by the ability of the knitter to create such complex shape, form and texture in the fabric, almost like carving out a sculpture from the yarn. Amazing.

The remainder of my sweater was swiftly completed, albeit with one slightly stressful session of ripping back the owls heads (ouch!).


I knit my first ever sweater!


I chose to knit my owls in the 5th size with 4.5 inches of positive ease (I have a 36” bust) and added 1 inch to the length of the sleeves.


My new sweater got it’s first outing this week on a breezy visit to the pretty seaside village of Tighnabruaich on the Cowal Peninsula.


On the way to deliver some of my artwork to the Tighnabruaich Gallery, Sam managed to capture a few photographs among the hills and trees and out on the coast when the sun made an appearance.


And look.

Owls New Lanark-33

Mel made a gorgeous Como blue sample too!

Owls New Lanark-65

There are now four New Lanark colourways of the Owls kits in the shop – here.

If you don’t already have it, the world-famous Owls sweater pattern is available – here.

Edited to correct the size I actually knitted!

48 thoughts on “Blossoming

  1. Jane – thanks to you my non knitting daughter has become a knitter. She is working her way through the book slowly. However the downside is that I get texts during the night showing me her work – she only lives in Kent!


  2. This was the very first sweater I knitted too, and it was so enjoyable. I can relate to the apprehension as you approach the owls and the satisfaction as they appear like magic! The pink is glorious. I will be knitting another one soon as mine was knitted in the most basic of yarn as I was a complete beginner and I always planned to knit it again in the New Lanark wool. Those little owls mean a lot to me!

    Congratulations on your lovely sweater,
    -Louise xx


  3. What a beautiful job! Well done, you – both with the sweater and the color choice. It is absolutely lovely on you!

    Good luck with your knitting.



  4. Congratulations on your beautiful sweater. Can’t believe it was your first, and am sure it won’t be your last!!! Have Kate and Mel to encourage you is something the rest of us have been blessed with for some time. Thanks, ladies for all the wonders you share with us.
    Linda D.


  5. Wow Jane, well done you and that pretty pink looks fab on you! I also like the more roomy look although I wear my own Owls quite fitted. Can’t wait to see what you try next.


  6. please explain about sizing. If your bust is 36″ and the 3rd size is 35.75, how does that give you 4.5 ” of ease? I’m a new knitter. Thank you.


  7. This is soooooo beautiful! I am fairly new to knitting and you have encouraged me!
    I am new to this site and WOW!….love everything!


  8. Hi, it is absolutely gorgeous, and I find it hard to believe that you’ve only been knitting for three months!! Congratulations. :-)
    However, I’m wondering if there’s been some mistake with the size given?
    Your article states that this is the 3rd size and has 4.5 inches positive ease on a 36 inch bust, but that doesn’t really make sense. Is this in fact the 5th size?
    On the link to the Lanark yarn, Kate is wearing a Como colour in the 3rd size too, and it says that she has about 4 inches positive ease, which makes sense as I know from previous posts that she has a 31 inch bust.
    I’m just hoping you can clear this up as I’m a little confused if both you and Kate, who are different sizes, are wearing the same 3rd size with the same amount of positive ease?


  9. OMG, what a treat to see that sweater on you! I do not care for the colour Pink but I loved that on you. I don’t know what to say……..just congratulations!!


  10. Wow!! Love your pink owls! You have inspired me to knit an owl sweater! Keep up the good work and many, many thanks for the inspiration!



  11. What a beautiful first sweater ! The colour is so Spring and yummy.
    I kept looking at the Owl design and knew that it looked familiar. Had an “ah ha” moment this morning and remembered a designer and wool shop owner named Penny Straker and her mother Janice from Padanaram Massachusetts (SE part of the State-quaint old maritime village) I loved packing my daughter and my Mum in the car for a road trip to the shop. Penny and Janice had a childrens’ pattern that I remember from the 70’s. (Not much in original designs in the States at that time). The Owls had wee pearl buttons for eyes. Here is a link to the site. Her patterns are available on Ravelry.
    What is old is new again.


      1. Your design brought back lovely memories for Mother’s Day. My baby who wore the Owl sweater will be 40 this year. Keep up the good work, Jane and all the best to Kate.


  12. Jane – that is a fabulous sweater! Your colour choice is brilliant and I like how you teamed it with navy skinny jeans, SUITS YOU very much.
    How you managed to keep from looking smug in the photos I do not know! Would I could have knitted so beautifully three months into learning.


  13. Lovely sweater knit in a beautiful color and it looks fab on you. Hope that you have a lot of fun wearing your sweater.


  14. Congratulations on your first sweater, such a beautiful colour and your knitting is so neat, it looks fabulous on you. I’ve knitted the owls cardigan which I love, but I love the sweater in both the pink and the blue, so feel another project coming on. Will you feel brave enough to tackle colour work next?


  15. That’s beautiful! You did a great job. I made a sweater as one of my earliest knitting projects, too. Unfortunately, I was so new that I knit all of one sleeve and part of the other through the back loop, so it looks a little weird! But I wear it and I love it. I learned so much from making it. Like your sweater, it was pretty easy but had a stitch pattern that made it interesting. Your sweater fits so well and is such a gorgeous color.


  16. Jane, Congratulations. Your color choice is epic. I knitted the Owls for my granddaughter a few years ago for her graduation. She loved it and it was so much fun,


  17. Wonderful! And such a happy color. Now I want one! Hmmm I have a grand nephew who is going on four years old. Maybe he’d wear a child sized version like the ones Claire has made. Off to check the kits! Lovely that you post for us. Thank you.


  18. Magnifique. Pour si peu d expérience, vous avez obtenu un splendide résultat. Puisse ceci encourager celles et ceux qui voudraient bien mais n osent pas.


  19. You are doing so well. It took me years to get my knitting that even and to actually make a garment. It’s a real delight to watch your knitting jounrney and very encouraging. I’ve found in recent years that if I attempt something slightly beyond my current knitting competence it keeps me interested and makes the project zip along. That seems to be working for you too. I look forward to seeing where you go next.


  20. Congratulations! Your sweater is gorgeous. As a fairly new knitter of just five years, I have been watching your knitting journey with pleasure. Thank you for sharing your adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. It suits and especially fits you so well! Wish my first sweater would have been such a success ;). Well done and thank you for your entertaining series =)


  22. Beautiful first sweater. I love the colour and also the extra positive ease. I have just finished knitting two Wowligans – wee owl cardigans. It is fun seeing those owls appear.
    Tighnabruich looks beautiful too. Good to know as we have a night booked there on our way home from Islay in September.


  23. Very beautiful, I love that colour and it suits you tremendously. You must be very proud of yourself for such lovely work.


  24. Congratulations!
    My first jumper was Carbeth Swan Dance which was lovely to knit. Every swan was a delight.
    Fascinating seeing the stitches always working out correctly and the sleeves and yokes joining in the right places!
    Many thanks to clever Kate and for Mel’s patient help and encouragement. I have learnt so many new and different techniques that I had never heard of before. A new slant on knitting!
    Ever grateful
    Joan xx

    Liked by 1 person

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