CRAFT: Cozy Up to Yarn
Lion Brand Yarn


Balaclava 4Ways2
By Nikol Lohr
The balaclava, named after the town of Balaclava in Crimea (now Ukraine), was originally worn by Russian soldiers in the Crimean war. While the balaclava retains a military association, it’s also well loved by skiers and climbers for its flexibility and warmth. A sort of sock for your head, the balaclava is wonderfully warm and efficient — doing double duty as both hat and scarf in a single garment, without the added bulk and fuss of a separate scarf. It has an opening in the front, which can be stretched to reveal just your eyes, your eyes and nose, or your whole face. The extra length can be folded over to make an extra-warm hat, or you can pop your whole head through the front opening and wear it as a cowl.
The balaclava is a marvelously practical garment that everyone in a cold climate should own. It eliminates the trouble of finding hat and scarf and bundling up like Ralphie if you’re just running to the mailbox or walking the dog on a bitter cold day. Of course, the classic black or olive drab balaclava might give you a S.W.A.T./bank robber vibe that you’re not really going for — and it might not be the wisest look when you’re popping into the corner store for some beer. To shake off the alarm factor, I’ve made this one in a totally plush sugary pink cashmere blend, with lots of cushy cables for added warmth.

Materials

4 skeins Lion Brand Cashmere Blend in Light Pink (70% merino, 30% cashmere, 1½ ounces/40g, 84 yds/77m), or next-to-skin soft worsted yarn of your choice
1 US 7 16″ circular needle
1 set US 7 DPNs
Extra circular needle, US 7 or smaller
or use one of the DPNs
Cable needle, US 7 or smaller or use one of the DPNs
Yarn needle
Stitch marker

Abbreviations

C6B cable 6 back
C6F cable 6 front
CO cast on
K knit
k2tog knit 2 stitches together as one (decrease)
P purl
p2tog purl 2 stitches together as one (decrease)
PU pick up
rnd round
RS right side
ssk slip, slip, knit: slip 2 stitches individually, knitwise. Knit them together as one (decrease).
st(s) stitch(es)

Directions

Gauge: 4″=18 st and 26 rows in stockinette st
Step 1: Bottom Edge
With your US 7 circular needle, CO 108, join in the round (being careful not to twist your stitches), and place the stitch marker.
*K2 P2, repeat from * to end of rnd.
Repeat previous round 5x more.
Next 2 rnds: *K2, P2, K12, P2, repeat from * to end.
Balaclava Step2
Step 2: Start Cable Pattern
Note: For help with cables, see Special Techniques, below.
Rnd 1 (Cable): *K2, P2, C6B, C6F, P2, repeat from * to end.
Next 7 rnds: Work in pattern, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls (*K2, P2, K12, P2, repeat from * to end).
Work full cable pattern (8 rnds each) 9 times.
Balaclava Step3
Step 3: Front Opening
Rnd 1 (cable): *K2, P2, C6B, C6F, P2, repeat from * to end.
Rnd 2-3: Work in pattern, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls (*K2, P2, K12, P2, repeat from * to end).
Rnd 4: K2. Transfer 34 stitches to spare circular or DPN. CO 34 stitches with cable cast-on (for help with cable cast-on, see Special Techniques, below). Finish round in pattern knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls.
Rnd 5-8: Resume pattern (*K2, P2, K12, P2, repeat from * to end).
Work full cable pattern (8 rnds each) twice.
Balaclava Step4
Step 4: Crown
Switch to DPNs when necessary.
Rnd 1: Work Cable Rnd: *K2, P2, C6B, C6F, P2, repeat from * to end.
Rnd 2: *K2, P2, ssk, K8, k2tog, P2, repeat from * to end–96 st.
Rnd 3: Work in pattern, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls (*K2, P2, K10, P2, repeat from * to end).
Rnd 4: *K2, P2, ssk, K6, k2tog, P2, repeat from * to end–84 st.
Rnd 5: Work in pattern, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls (*K2, P2, K8, P2, repeat from * to end).
Rnd 6: *K2, P2, ssk, K4, k2tog, P2, repeat from * to end–72 st.
Rnd 7: Work in pattern, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls (*K2, P2, K6, P2, repeat from * to end).
Rnd 8: *K2, P2, ssk, K2, k2tog, P2, repeat from * to end–60 st.
Rnd 9: Work in pattern, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls (*K2, P2, K4, P2, repeat from * to end).
Rnd 10: *K2, P2, ssk, k2tog, P2, repeat from * to end–48 st.
Rnd 11: Work in pattern, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls (*K2, P2, K2, P2, repeat from * to end).
Rnd 12: *K2, P2, k2tog, P2, repeat from * to end–42 st.
Rnd 13: Work in pattern, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls (*K2, P2, K1, P2, repeat from * to end).
Rnd 14: *K2, p2tog, K1, p2tog, repeat from * to end–30 st.
Rnd 15: Work in pattern, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls (*K2, P1, K1, P1, repeat from * to end).
Rnd 16: *k2tog, P1, K1, P1, repeat from * to end–24 st.
Rnd 17: Work in pattern, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls (*K1, P1, repeat from * to end).
Rnd 18: K2tog across rnd–12 st.
Break yarn and thread onto yarn needle. Run needle through all live stitches, cinch, tack down, and weave in ends.
Step 5: Opening Edging
Transfer held sts to US 7 circular. With RS facing and at the left end of the held stitches, PU 2 stitches in gap between held stitches and cast-on edge. PU 34 st across cast-on edge, one through the bottom of each cast-on stitch, then PU 2 more st in opposite gap.
Loosely BO all stitches, leaving last stitch live.
Balaclava Step5A
PU 1 st through back side only of first bound-off st.
Balaclava Step5B
Immediately BO loosely. Repeat around opening, break yarn, and weave in ends.

Special Techniques

Cables
The fancy branching cable is super easy, formed by 2 opposite cables (C6B+C6F) flush against each other.
C6B: Cable 6 Back: Slip 3 stitches onto cable needle. Move the held stitches to the back of your work, and knit next 3 stitches off the left needle. Then knit the 3 held stitches off the cable needle (don’t twist cable needle — keep the RS facing forward).
C6F: Cable 6 Front: Slip 3 stitches onto cable needle. Move the held stitches to the front of your work, and knit next 3 stitches off the left needle. Then knit the 3 held stitches off the cable needle (don’t twist cable needle — keep the RS facing forward).
Balaclava Techniques1
C6B in progress. The 3 slipped stitches are held in the back of work while the next 3 stitches are knitted.
Balaclava Techniques2
C6B completed. Before the C6F is worked, you can see that this is just a regular cable.
Balaclava Techniques3
The first 3 stitches are held in front while the next 3 are knit.
Balaclava Techniques4
Afterwards, the reserved stitches are knit in order to complete the cable.
Cable Cast-On
This is a stable but stretchy cast-on that can be used in the middle of knitted work.
Balaclava Techniques5
First turn your work so that you’re heading in the opposite direction. Insert your needle into the last stitch from the previous row, then knit that stitch.
Balaclava Techniques6
Then slip that stitch back onto the left needle. Repeat until you have the desired number of stitches.
About the Author:
Author Nikollohr
Nikol Lohr lives at The Harveyville Project with her partner, 2 cats, 7 sheep, and 7 hens. She’s the author of Naughty Needles & founder of Yarn School. She blogs at The Thrifty Knitter, is cupcake on ravelry, and queenievonsugarpants on Flickr.


  • T of Balkan Style

    I’ve never even considered wearing a Balaclava, let alone knit one but this one is lovely and so versatile!

  • cynthb

    Lovely pattern! I have a question, though: What hat size is this pattern? I have an extra-large head, and I need to know how much I need to modify the pattern :)

  • Anonymous

    My head is extra huge too. I think I’ll just knit it as is – it looks large on the model. I’d like mine to fit more snug than hers does.

  • cupcake

    The cables give the pattern a lot of stretch. This fits both me, with my wee head, and my partner, with his big meaty head that is forever stretching out all my hats and sunglasses.
    If you wanted a really loose fit, or if you’re using a smaller gauge, you can add a repeat (18 st) if you wish. The current pattern uses 6 18-stitch repeats. An extra repeat would probably need an extra skein of yarn–or you could make the neck a few cables shorter (maybe 6-7 full cable sets before you start the opening section instead of 9).

  • AlizaEss

    I’ve been knitting a lot of cowls but those aren’t quite warm enough when I ride my bike and the wind is hitting me in the face. Can’t wait to make this! And the cables make it extra special. Bee-yoo-tee-ful!

  • JJ

    SO beautiful! I wish I could find a pattern for one in crochet! (Alas, I’ve never mastered knitting)

  • Lisa

    Not only is this beautiful, you’ve spoiled us with wonderful how-to pictures and special instructions! Thank you!

  • Becky Stern

    How do we orient the balaclava to wear it like a hat in the third picture? I just can’t envision how it’s tucked in.

  • Anonymous

    would be nice to see how-to-wear photos.

  • knitsomniack

    this is absolutely amazing, I could have used this many a winter, I plan to knit about 1/2 dozen for me and mine, and one for my niece. Thanks for this amazing pattern, so versitile and what a great write up and pic tutorial!!!!!!!1

  • Catherine

    Hi,
    To anybody considering using this (lovely and practical) hat when traveling as a tourist, please consider that it actually may be illegal in a foreign country, for instance, I believe in Denmark. Such hat-types hiding the identity are often used in violent protests, and they can lead to immediate arrest, if covering both upper and lower face, so to be safe, choose to cover only one part!

  • hatice35

    Merhaba ,
    TÜRKİYE/ İZMİR den sevgiler.
    ben de bloguma bekliyorum .
    şapka harika olmuş çok beğendim.

  • Laurpud

    I just finished mine & it’s stunning!! My head & neck are average sized, but even with the lower pulled up to my eyes, it seems a little long. Fortunately, when I ride my m/c in 40 degrees, that will be an asset!
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful pattern, Laurinda
    (Laurpud on Ravelry)

  • anastasia

    I just love this pattern. This is my 1st time on this site. How do you print out this pattern and others on this site?

  • Rae Ann

    I cannot seem to find the Cashmere yarn in my area. Did anyone use another brand or kind of yarn?
    Thanks, Rae Ann

  • Keela Helstrom

    Hi Nikol –
    Thank you so much for posting this pattern. I’m using 100% wool in a creme color and so far it looks absolutely gorgeous! Though the pattern is quite simple it creates such a lovely leaf-like cable! Thank you so much Nikol!

  • Keela Helstrom

    Hi Nikol –
    Thank you so much for posting this pattern. I’m using 100% wool in a creme color and so far it looks absolutely gorgeous! Though the pattern is quite simple it creates such a lovely leaf-like cable! Thank you so much Nikol!

  • Home Heating

    Thank you amazing blog, do you have twitter, facebook or something similar where i can follow your blog
    Sandro Heckler

  • Jenny

    Hi Nikol! Gorgeous pattern! I am currently knitting it with a WW pink color. I am loving it so far. I am on step 3, and at the end it says “Work full cable pattern (8 rnds each) twice.” Does that mean two more times for a total of three repeats at step three or just once more after the first eight rounds for a total of two cable round sets in step three? Thanks so much!

  • Diana

    Hi, how can I print this out?

    Diana

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  • septuagenarian

    very nice. wish I knitted.

  • Shari Lynn Schädler

    Thank you for the excellent and informative instructions. I was a cable virgin but today I completed the pattern and can’t wait to wear it! I’ve been in a wheelchair for eleven years now and our frigid Canadian winter winds are so harsh on my face. I’m really hoping this will help protect my skin. Such a pretty pattern. I used DPN’s as I didn’t have the appropriate size circular.