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Quick and easy shoulder warmer / capelet knitting pattern

It’s no secret that I love (LOVE) knitting with handspun, thick and thin (slub) wool or wool blends.  Nothing makes me happier than to kick back with a beautiful wool / silk blend, though I’m just as happy with 100% merino wool.

I’ve talked with you a lot about handspun yarn, and shared a few of my patterns that are perfect for handspun single ply yarn.  Now I’m sharing a super simple and free (yes, free!) pattern with you for handspun thick and thin wool.

Again, this is super, super simple.  Nothing fancy.  Pure stockinette and no buttonholes – the button just slips between stitches.  The beauty is in the wool’s texture and color.  And in how you variegate the thick and thin bits.

I’ll write more about this soon, but there is an art (not really a science, just an art) to ensuring that you don’t end up with big pools of thick vs. thin OR color. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to achieve and other times super easy.

You can see a perfect example above for non-pooled or -striped color and/or thick and thin sections (that gorgeous wool/silk handspun is from Naomi on Etsy).  How did I do it?  I most likely used at least two sizes of knitting needles, maybe three, sometimes slipped a stitch to break up a stretch of color and sometimes adjusted my tension by other tricks and feats of magic.  (Not really, no magic involved, but LOTS of frogging when I haven’t been paying attention.)

On to the knitting pattern!

Rustic Capelet Knitting Pattern


  • At least 90 yards handspun thick and thin (slub) wool or wool blend yarn (shown above:  Knotty Naomi “Sqoosh Monsters” in plum honey, 100% merino wool, approx. 90 yards)
  • Size 17 and 19 US knitting needles (keep a 15 on hand, just in case)
  • Tapestry needle or crochet hook for weaving in ends
  • One or two 1.25-1.75″ buttons (maybe from Phydeaux Designs?)
  • Sewing needle and thread in color that matches your wool

Gauge:  Honestly, gauge doesn’t matter that much – adjust the number of CO sts based on your own tension and how wide you want your capelet.  Knit as long as you want/need.

Dimensions:  Shown here:  36″ (91 cm) long x 10” (25 cm) wide


BO:  bind off
CO:  cast on
RS:  right side
st(s):  stitch(es)
WS:  wrong side


With size 19 needles, CO 20 sts.

Row 1 (RS):  Knit, using size 19 needle.

Row 2 (WS):  Purl, using size 17 needle.

Rep rows 1-2 until desired length reached.

BO, weave ends in through back of work, leaving short tails.

Wet block, pinning to ensure square, crisp corners. (NOTE:  give your knit fabric good overall tugs to help settle uneven stitches. I usually stretch width-wise, diagonally and lengthwise.) Allow to thoroughly dry. Trim ends.

Unpin and position your button on the BO edge of the fabric’s RS.  Test with CO edge to make sure that your position allows the button to easily slip between or through stitches.  When you have your final position, sew your button into place. Rather than knotting your thread at the end, run several tiny stitches through the WS of your fabric, and just under the button, then break thread.

NOTE:  I know, I know, it seems to good to be true that this is so simple.  And it is.  As you see pooling and striping starting to emerge, you need to change things up.  If your wool is a bit on the thin side, use smaller needles every few rows.  Try slipping a stitch now and then, if needed (don’t go crazy with this – it can really mess with your finished fabric).  If the colorway or texture just won’t behave, divide your yarn in two equal skeins and alternate rows (change skeins every two rows).  Again, this is more art than science, although if someone has the scientific answer, I’d love to learn it!

Now for the legal terms, which allow you to share or adapt this pattern, with attribution to me/link to this post, and even allows you to sell your finished work, with attribution/link, unlike my usual licensing, which doesn’t grant any of the above.  This is an experiment – be cool, follow the license terms, and you’ll see more of these!

Creative Commons License
Rustic Capelet Knitting Pattern by Brenda Lavell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Emily April 24, 2012, 4:45 AM

    It’s a wonderful pattern and am grateful you shared! I hope EVERYONE follows the license terms! Thanks again!

  • Sue Kennedy December 10, 2012, 5:05 PM

    Dear Brenda,
    Thank you so much for sharing a darling pattern!! I will be able to make a few for 2 college neices by Christmas. They will be adorable!!!! Much appreciated!!!!!
    Sue K

  • Sam December 11, 2012, 8:28 PM

    A fabulous pattern… going to use this to make a quick gift now 🙂

  • Christy September 3, 2013, 4:42 PM

    Hi Brenda,
    What a fabulous pattern! I have some Malabrigo that would be perfect for this. Can you tell me what the dimensions are on the capelet in the first picture (with the button)? The scarf is also great, but the capelet would be perfect for a somewhat-polished look for the office or going out. Thanks!

  • Pauline December 26, 2013, 8:56 AM

    LOVE the pattern!! Make two gorgeous scarves with Girl With a Sword hand-dyed Lincoln Wool. 🙂
    Thank you! p

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