Checkmate Cowl

Spice up entrelac knitting and make the squares look like a chessboard all set up for playing. The various chess pieces are worked using the intarsia technique with some stranded knitting for finer details.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Size: 10½” height and 24″ circumference

Gauge: 34 sts and 44 rows = 4” [10 cm] in St st on smaller needles

Materials

Yarn:

Super Fine Weight Yarn Knit Picks Stroll (75% Merino, 25% Nylon; 231 yards [211 meters]/50 grams): White (C1), 1 ball; Black (C2), 1 ball.

Needles: US size 1.5 (2.5 mm): 16” circular; US size 0 (2 mm): 16″ circular

Notions: Stitch marker; tapestry needle

Abbreviations

BO = bind off

CO = cast on

K: knit

K2tog: knit two stitches together

M1: make one stitch: insert left needle, from front to back, under strand of yarn lying between the two needles, knit this stitch through the back loop

P: purl

P2tog: purl two stitches together

Rnd(s): round(s)

RS: right side

Skp: sl1, k1, pass slipped stitch over (“ssk” can be substituted here if preferred)

Sl: slip

St(s): stitch(es)

wyib: with yarn in back

wyif: with yarn in front

Special Stitches

Starting Triangle

Use C2 throughout.

Row 1 (RS): Sl1 wyib, k1, turn.
Row 2 (WS): Sl1 wyif, p1, turn.
Row 3: Sl1 wyib, k1, k2tog, turn.
Row 4: Sl1 wyif, p2, turn.
Row 5: Sl1 wyib, k3, turn.
Row 6: Sl1 wyif, p3, turn.
Row 7: Sl1 wyib, k4, turn.
Row 8: Sl1 wyif, p4, turn.
Row 9: Sl1 wyib, k4, k2tog, turn.
Row 10: Sl1 wyif, p5, turn.
Row 11: Sl1 wyib, k6, turn.
Row 12: Sl1 wyif, p6, turn.
Row 13: Sl1 wyib, k7, turn.
Row 14: Sl1 wyif, p7, turn.
Row 15: Sl1 wyib, k7, k2tog, turn.
Row 16: Sl1 wyif, p8, turn.
Row 17: Sl1 wyib, k9, turn.
Row 18: Sl1 wyif, p9, turn.
Row 19: Sl1 wyib, k10, turn.
Row 20: Sl1 wyif, p10, turn.
Row 21: Sl1 wyib, k10, k2tog, turn.
Row 22: Sl1 wyif, p11, turn.
Row 23: Sl1 wyib, k12, turn.
Row 24: Sl1 wyif, p12, turn.
Row 25: Sl1 wyib, k13, turn.
Row 26: Sl1 wyif, p13, turn.
Row 27: Sl1 wyib, k13, k2tog, do NOT turn.

Finishing Triangle

Use C1 throughout.

Set-up Row (WS): Pick up and p15 sts down next square, turn.

Row 1 (RS): Sl1 wyib, k14, turn.
Row 2: Sl1 wyif, p13, p2tog, turn.
Row 3: Sl1 wyib, k13, turn.
Row 4: Sl1 wyif, p12, p2tog, turn.
Row 5: Sl1 wyib, k12, turn.
Row 6: Sl1 wyif, p11, p2tog, turn.
Row 7: Sl1 wyib, k11, turn.
Row 8: Sl1 wyif, p10, p2tog, turn.
Row 9: Sl1 wyib, k10, turn.
Row 10: Sl1 wyif, p9, p2tog, turn.
Row 11: Sl1 wyib, k9, turn.
Row 12: Sl1 wyif, p8, p2tog, turn.
Row 13: Sl1 wyib, k8, turn.
Row 14: Sl1 wyif, p7, p2tog, turn.
Row 15: Sl1 wyib, k7, turn.
Row 16: Sl1 wyif, p6, p2tog, turn.
Row 17: Sl1 wyib, k6, turn.
Row 18: Sl1 wyif, p5, p2tog, turn.
Row 19: Sl1 wyib, k5, turn.
Row 20: Sl1 wyif, p4, p2tog, turn.
Row 21: Sl1 wyib, k4, turn.
Row 22: Sl1 wyif, p3, p2tog, turn.
Row 23: Sl1 wyib, k3, turn.
Row 24: Sl1 wyif, p2, p2tog, turn.
Row 25: Sl1 wyib, k2, turn.
Row 26: Sl1 wyif, p1, p2tog, turn.
Row 27: Sl1 wyib, k1, turn.
Row 28: Sl1 wyif, p2tog, do NOT turn 16 sts in Triangle just completed.

Pattern Notes

On Working the Charts: Chess pieces are to be worked using intarsia. For each chess piece, three bobbins are required: one for the background color on one side of the chess piece, one for the color of the chess piece, and one for the background color on the other side of the chess piece. It’s recommended that you weave in the ends for each square right after you finish it, rather than leaving a ton of ends to weave in after all the knitting is done.

Sizing: If you would like a shorter cowl, you can reduce the height by about 8” by ignoring the instructions for the third and fourth tier of squares, and jumping directly to the instructions for Square 33 (Fifth Tier) after completing Square 16 (Second Tier). This will remove the two tiers of plain squares in the middle of the cowl.

Pattern

Bottom Edge

With C1, larger needles, and using the long-tail cast-on, CO 160 sts. Place marker and join for working in the rnd, being careful not to twist sts.

Rnd 1: Purl.
Rnd 2: Knit.

Rep Rnd 1-2 twice more.

Remove marker. Do NOT break C1.

Set-up Tier

Switch to smaller needles and join C2.

Work 8 Starting Triangles.

Break C2.

First Tier

You will now work eight right-leaning squares, displaying C2 pieces on C1 backgrounds.

Square 1 (Rook)

Set-up Row (RS): With C1, pick up and k15 sts up the right edge of the FIRST Starting Triangle you made, turn.

Row 1 (WS): Reading chart left-to-right, work Row 1 of Chart A, turn.
Row 2 (RS): Reading chart right-to-left, work Row 2 of Chart A, turn.

Join C2 and a second bobbin of C1 when needed, cont in pattern as est until all 29 rows of Chart A have been worked, WITHOUT turning after the final row. WS facing for next row.

Break C2 and second bobbin of C1. Weave in all four ends which were made by those two strands.

Square 2 (Knight)

Set-up Row (WS): With C1, pick up and p15 sts down the edge of the next Starting Triangle, turn.

Row 1 (RS): Reading chart right-to-left, work Row 1 of Chart B, turn.
Row 2 (WS): Reading chart left-to-right, work Row 2 of Chart B, turn.

Join C2 and a second bobbin of C1 when needed, cont in pattern as est until all 30 rows of Chart B have been worked, WITHOUT turning after the final row. WS facing for next row.

Break C2 and second bobbin of C1. Weave in all four ends which were made by those two strands.

Square 3 (Bishop)

Work same as Square 2, but using Chart C rather than Chart B.

Square 4 (King)

Work same as Square 2, but using Chart D rather than Chart B.

Square 5 (Queen)

Work same as Square 2, but using Chart E rather than Chart B.

Square 6 (Bishop)

Work same as Square 2, but using Chart C rather than Chart B.

Square 7 (Knight)

Work same as Square 2.

Square 8 (Rook)

Work same as Square 2, but using Chart F rather than Chart B.

Break C1. Weave in that end.

Second Tier

You will now work eight left-leaning squares, displaying C1 pawns on C2 backgrounds.

Square 9

Set-up Row (WS): Join C2, pick up and p15 sts up the edge of Square 1, turn.

Row 1 (RS): Reading chart right-to-left, work Row 1 of Chart G, turn.
Row 2 (WS): Reading chart left-to-right, work Row 2 of Chart G, turn.

Join C1 and a second bobbin of C2 when needed, cont in pattern as est until all 29 rows of Chart G have been worked, WITHOUT turning after the final row. RS facing for next row.

Break C1 and second bobbin of C2. Weave in all four ends which were made by those two strands.

Square 10

Set-up Row (RS): With C2, pick up and k15 sts down the edge of the next square, turn.

Row 1 (WS): Reading chart left-to-right, work Row 1 of Chart H, turn.
Row 2 (RS): Reading chart right-to-left, work Row 2 of Chart H, turn.

Join C1 and a second bobbin of C2 when needed, cont in pattern as est until all 30 rows of Chart H have been worked, WITHOUT turning after the final row. RS facing for next row.

Break C1 and second bobbin of C2. Weave in all four ends which were made by those strands.

Rep Square 10 instructions 6 more times. RS facing for next row.

Break C2 and weave in that end.

Third Tier

You will now work eight right-leaning squares in C1.

Square 17

Set-up Row (RS): Join C1, pick up and k15 sts up the edge of Square 9, turn.

Row 1 (WS): Sl1 wyif, p13, p2tog, turn.
Row 2 (RS): Sl1 wyib, k14, turn.

Rep Rows 1-2 thirteen more times.

Work Row 1 once more WITHOUT turning at the end of the row. WS facing for next row.

Square 18

Set-up Row (WS): Pick up and p15 sts down the edge of the next square, turn.

Row 1 (RS): Sl1 wyib, k14, turn.
Row 2 (WS): Sl1 wyif, p13, p2tog, turn.

Rep Rows 1-2 fourteen more times WITHOUT turning after the final row. WS facing for next row.

Rep Square 18 instructions 6 more times. WS facing for next row.

Break C1 and weave in that end.

Fourth Tier

You will now work eight left-leaning squares in C2.

Square 25

Set-up Row (WS): Join C2, pick up and p15 sts up the edge of Square 17, turn.

Row 1 (RS): Sl1 wyib, k13, skp, turn.
Row 2 (WS): Sl1 wyif, p14, turn.

Rep Rows 1-2 thirteen more times.

Work Row 1 once more WITHOUT turning at the end of the row. RS facing for next row.

Square 26

Set-up Row (RS): Pick up and k15 sts down the edge of next square, turn.

Row 1 (WS): Sl1 wyif, p14, turn.
Row 2 (RS): Sl1 wyib, k13, skp, turn.

Rep Rows 1-2 fourteen more times WITHOUT turning after the final row. RS facing for next row.

Repeat Square 26 instructions 6 more times. RS facing for next row.

Break C2 and weave in that end.

Fifth Tier

You will now work eight right-leaning squares, displaying C2 pawns on C1 backgrounds.

Square 33

Work same as Square 1, but joining C1 rather than picking it back up, AND using Chart I rather than Chart A, AND initially picking up sts at the edge of Square 25 rather than the first starting triangle. WS facing for next row.

Square 34

Work same as Square 2, but using Chart J rather than Chart B, AND initially picking up sts down the edge of the next square rather than the next starting triangle. WS facing for next row.

Rep Square 34 instructions 6 more times. WS facing for next row.

Break C1 and weave in that end.

Sixth Tier

You will now work eight left-leaning squares, displaying C1 pieces on C2 backgrounds.

Square 41 (Rook)

Work same as Square 9, but using Chart K rather than Chart G, AND initially picking up sts up the edge of Square 33 rather than Square 1. RS facing for next row.

Square 42 (Knight)

Work same as Square 10, but using Chart L rather than Chart H. RS facing for next row.

Square 43 (Bishop)

Work same as Square 10, but using Chart M rather than Chart H. RS facing for next row.

Square 44 (Queen)

Work same as Square 10, but using Chart N rather than Chart H. RS facing for next row.

Square 45 (King)

Work same as Square 10, but using Chart O rather than Chart H. RS facing for next row.

Square 46 (Bishop)

Work same as Square 10, but using Chart M rather than Chart H. RS facing for next row.

Square 47 (Knight)

Work same as Square 10, but using Chart L rather than Chart H. RS facing for next row.

Square 48 (Rook)

Work same as Square 10, but using Chart P rather than Chart H. RS facing for next row.

Break C2 and weave in that end.

Finishing Tier

Join C1.

Set-up Triangle

Set-up Row (RS): Pick up and k15 sts up the right edge of Square 41, turn.

Row 1 (WS): Sl1 wyif, p13, p2tog, turn.
Row 2: Sl1 wyib, k13, turn.
Row 3: Sl1 wyif, p12, p2tog, turn.
Row 4: Sl1 wyib, k12, turn.
Row 5: Sl1 wyif, p11, p2tog, turn.
Row 6: Sl1 wyib, k11, turn.
Row 7: Sl1 wyif, p10, p2tog, turn.
Row 8: Sl1 wyib, k10, turn.
Row 9: Sl1 wyif, p9, p2tog, turn.
Row 10: Sl1 wyib, k9, turn.
Row 11: Sl1 wyif, p8, p2tog, turn.
Row 12: Sl1 wyib, k8, turn.
Row 13: Sl1 wyif, p7, p2tog, turn.
Row 14: Sl1 wyib, k7, turn.
Row 15: Sl1 wyif, p6, p2tog, turn.
Row 16: Sl1 wyib, k6, turn.
Row 17: Sl1 wyif, p5, p2tog, turn.
Row 18: Sl1 wyib, k5, turn.
Row 19: Sl1 wyif, p4, p2tog, turn.
Row 20: Sl1 wyib, k4, turn.
Row 21: Sl1 wyif, p3, p2tog, turn.
Row 22: Sl1 wyib, k3, turn.
Row 23: Sl1 wyif, p2, p2tog, turn.
Row 24: Sl1 wyib, k2, turn.
Row 25: Sl1 wyif, p1, p2tog, turn.
Row 26: Sl1 wyib, k1, turn.
Row 27: Sl1 wyif, p2tog, p1, do NOT turn – 16 sts in Triangle just completed.

Work 7 Finishing Triangles – 128 sts.

Break C1.

Top Edge

With RS facing, join C2 and mark for beg of rnds

Next Rnd: *K4, m1; rep from * around 31 more times – 160 sts.

Switch to larger needles.

Next Rnd: Purl.

Next Rnd: Knit.

Rep last 2 rnds once more.

Next Rnd: Purl.

BO knitwise.

Finishing

Weave in all remaining ends.

Block to measurements.yarn ball

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