logo for the purl box

The Purl Box

| view cart | US

Skein of thought

Crazy for Cowls

Monday, September 14, 2015           by The Purl Box

Okay, I'm not ashamed to admit to you, I'm a bit of a cowl addict.  

For starters, they are quick to knit.  But mostly, they are so easy to wear.  And they keep my neck warm.  For the winter we've just experienced, I'm sure you'll agree, that's been a pretty big priority.  Keeping Warm.  (Although today has been gorgeously sunny)

Now cowls come in all shapes & sizes - the big, pluffy wraparound your neck three times sort right down to the petite little single loop neck warmer.  

And because they are reasonably quick to knit, you can make as many as you wish, in whatever colour you fancy, they are a fabulous method of accessorising your wardrobe.  Lace, cables, colourwork, you can knit anything in a cowl.

Now I've never admitted to being a fashion icon & the last time I tried telling my OH I was Cool, he choked on his ice-ceam from laughing too much (although as he lives in hoodies with motorbike brands on them, his ability to judge these things is warped somewhat), but Cowls totally rock. 

This winter they've been pretty much a mandatory item of clothing.  Underwear, outerwear, jacket, Cowl. As such, the sort I've found myself gravitating to most is the single loop neck-warmer style.  As a mate of mine once said after enthusing about one she'd received as a gift "You can wear it when you're doing the dishes".  Doesn't really sound like strong praise, but the freedom of having a warm neck whatever you're doing, without the worry of getting suds or dirt or weeds or whatever muck you're dealing in all over your pretty stitches, is rather lovely.  I love my shawls, but I certainly wouldn't wear them doing anything that might get them entangled or dirty.

So, cowls are Cool & Utilitarian.  Awesome.

The one I've most used this season is my Perfecto Cowl.  This gorgeous wrapping of texture is designed by Sandy Holdaway & you can get the pattern here from Ravelry.  When knitting this, I chose the Blue Sky Alpacas Extra - a deliciously soft alpaca / merino blend.  It has a gorgeous sheen & a slight halo & is toasty warm.  I know this, as I've worn it so so much since it came off the needles.  I used Carmine, as I'm rather partial to a good bit of bold colour.

I have to admit, after wearing this for nearly a whole winter, I'm really impressed with how the yarn is holding up.  It is still soft &  plush & the halo is a bit more pronounced softening the texture of this heavily cabled cowl, keeping it cozy.  It has not pilled at all though, despite all the softness, so the cowl is still smart enough to wear to the day-job.  

I've just knit up another cowl this winter in Blue Sky Alpacas - the Worsted Hand Dyes this time, but this one has already been birthday-gifted.  Even though its quite a chunky weight yarn, the rounded rope-like construction of the WHD makes for some lovely stitch definition - which means you can whip up something pretty special in a flash. 

Here's the cowl I made, using the Salt pattern by Andi Satterlund.

I've used the WHD before - to make a Galicia hat for myself.  This baby is toasty.  Again, being a Wool & Alpaca blend, you get good durability with lightweight warmth.  This hat was my lifesaver when dog-sitting for my folks earlier in the year.  You definitely need something warm on your head when you need to get up from a snug bed to crunch through frost to walk the dog!

But back to the cowls...

I've happily just finished another Test Knit cowl from Sandy - the Retrotastic - a fab bit of colourwork fun.  She's just released this new pattern.... do check it out.  Here's a quick look:

I really love the cable effect in the vertical panel.  Sandy manages to make some really very wearable designs that aren't boring to knit.

Happy Knitting,


comments powered by Disqus


    Useful Links


    Paradise for knitters! Seriously – you’ll find anything and everything you wanted to know about knitting – and a fabulous community of like-minded souls. (PS – you’ll find us there too)

    Spud & Chloë

    Home of this lovely brand of yarn.  Have a look round!

    Blue Sky Alpacas

    We are so happy to carry this line of yarn. Gorgeous stuff.


    One of the best knitting resources all-round.

    Twist Collective

    Beautiful patterns, great articles.  A fantastic on-line magazine with heaps of inspiration for all.


    One of the first and still one of the best on-line resources for knitters.


    Another great place to find that special pattern you’ve been looking for.

    The Yarn Harlot

    A seriously great knitter – and funny to boot.  We love her.