Parliament of Cowls
Based upon Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls, the eight cowls in this book represent various birds who are debating which suitor the female eagle should choose as her mate. Included with the patterns is a summary of the text and a discussion of the role each bird plays in the debate.
About the Patterns
The formel is a female eagle sought after by three male eagles and is described as the goodliest bird, with every virtue. The shape of the cowl, which can be pulled down over the top of the shoulders, is like a mantle of love. The hearts on this cowl represent all the longing hearts that surround this female eagle, seeming to trap her into choosing a mate. Yet she breaks free from any restrictions by asking for another year before having to make her choice.
Round Table Yarns Camelot (80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon), 435 yds/398 m per 100 g); sample uses colorway Shame and Slander; or 285 yds (260 m) of another fingering weight yarn
The royal tercel is seen as wise and worthy and is the one that it seems the formel should choose. He promises to always stay true to her and claims no one loves her more than he. Thus, the dependability of the worsted weight yarn, Lancelot (as well as Lancelot’s own love for Guenevere), reflects the love of this royal tercel for the formel. The cabled hearts stand true all on their own, with nothing to distract from them.
Round Table Yarns Lancelot (100% superwash Merino, 220 yds/201 m per 100 g); 1 skein (sample uses colorway Tintagel); or 180 yds (165 m) of another worsted weight yarn
The second tercel tries to compete with the royal tercel by saying he loves the formel more, but then he backtracks by saying if not more, he has at least loved her for a longer time. Therefore, this cowl has a longer circumference to represent the length of time this second tercel claims to have loved the formel.
Round Table Yarns Camelot (80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon), 435 yds/398 m per 100 g): 1 skein (sample uses colorway Taliesin); or approximately 280 yds/256 m of another fingering weight yarn
The third tercel seems to be more boastful about his love than to truly feel love for the formel. He admits he may be new to loving the formel but claims to have feelings just as strong as the others; however, his words don’t quite ring clear. The red used for this cowl symbolizes his declaration of the strength of his love while the half circles represent his half-hearted attempt at that claim.
Round Table Yarns Tristan (100% superwash Merino, 328 yds/300 m per 100 g); 1 skein (sample uses colorway Morgan le Fay); or 210 yds (192 m) of another sport weight yarn
The falcon is a bird of prey who relies more on action than reason to determine who loves the formel best, and he comes close to inciting the eagles to a trial by battle. In this cowl, in the round sections battle short row sections to create a wider front and narrower back.
Round Table Yarns Tristan (100% superwash merino, 328 yds/300 m per 100 g): 1 skein (sample uses colorway Lady of the Lake); or approximately 200 yds/183 m of another sport weight yarn
The goose advises the male eagles that if the formel does not choose them, they should love another. Another bird interrupts, calling the goose a fool who goes around boasting about the good advice she gives, which is actually no advice at all. The ruffle on this cowl brings to mind a goose preening her feathers.
Round Table Yarns Avalon (50% superwash Merino, 50% silk, 231 yds/211 m per 100 g); 1 skein (sample uses colorway Blancheflor and Rivalin); or 225 yds (206 m) of another DK weight yarn
The turtledove had a reputation for modesty and was thought to symbolize faithfulness in love. The two colors used in this cowl represent the turtledove and her mate, whose lives are always connected and who remain true to one another until death.
Round Table Yarns Camelot (80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon), 435 yds/398 m per 100 g): 1 skein each in two colors (sample uses Excalibur for C1 and Gwynedd for C2); or approximately 270 yds/247 m of another fingering weight yarn in each of two colors
The cuckoo is a bird that didn’t have the best reputation in the Middle Ages. It was seen as a selfish bird because it laid its eggs in the nests of other birds, leaving those other birds to raise the young cuckoos. In this cowl, the cables steal in and out of one another rather than staying in a straight line, just like a cuckoo stealing in and out of another bird’s nest.
Round Table Yarns Gawain (100% superwash merino, 400 yds/366 m per 100 g): 1 skein (sample uses colorway Damsel); or approximately 290 yds/265 m of another fingering weight yarn
Projects on Ravelry
Click each link to view the individual patterns on Ravelry, along with the projects from test knitters.
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*Modeled photos by Brad Barton; layout design by Elizabeth Green