Let’s Cheer for Cowls!

There are lots of definitions for a cowl but the one nearest to what I mean is from The Cambridge dictionary definition ‘ a large, loose covering for the head and sometimes shoulders, but not the face, worn especially by monks.’ Now the cowls I’m talking about are certainly not worn by monks, some but not all could be pulled up to cover your head. They are more, well, neck warmers. They are just a loop of comfort that can easily be thrown around your neck, adding a bit of colour to your outfit, warm but not overly so and no ends to get tangled in or shut in the car door. I think they are very underrated and their name just doesn’t do them justice.

Sometimes you see the name snood , defined as a type of scarf consisting of a wide ring of material, that is worn around the neck and that can be pulled up to cover the head. So basically the same as a cowl but perhaps less gravitas.

Brioche Cowl
Broken Rib Cowl

I’ve made quite a few cowls in my time, because they are quick and easy. They often can be knitted with just one skein of yarn so are a nice treat to make with something a bit special and luxurious or just try out a new pattern. Knitting them allows me to experiment with different yarns and patterns without the commitment of a larger item. Often they can be knitted in an afternoon or evening so are a really good project for relieving boredom often encountered when knitting larger, complex more long term projects. You only ever have to sew up a side seam and if knitted in the round not even that.

Super Chunky Cowl
Accidental Moebius

Now, moebius cowls are really interesting. There is all sorts of geometry and technical stuff going on. The easiest way to make a moebius is to knit a long strip, then when you go to join the two short ends twist one end through 180 degrees. You then end up with a twist to your cowl that you just can’t undo! I have knitted a few ‘accidental moebius’ in my time when joining to work in the round didn’t quite go to plan. There is a way to knit a true moebius in the round but I think I’ll leave that for now.


My first arm knitting was snoods. Fun to knit and super quick they are really warm to wear. I’ve since progressed to a small lap blanket which I’m very proud of.

Arm Knitted Snood
Another Arm Knitted Snood

My most recent cowl was made with gorgeous faux fur. I got part way through and realised I had cast on the wrong number of stitches. So I contacted my local yarn shop and another ball of yarn arrived. I now have a block colour cowl because the original colour was out of stock. But that’s the beauty of cowls, they can just be that bit of whimsy. This particular cowl took much longer to make than it should, mainly because I kept stopping to stroke and admire it. I can’t wait for it to be cold enough to snuggle into.

My next cowl is going to be a bit special and also a bit of a challenge. Knitted in the round using old shale lace in mohair. It’s going to be so light and fluffy and scrumptious. And because it’s a cowl it will be finished before I get bored of knitting with something so fine.

So,to finish, please don’t under rate the cowl, they can be fun to make in so many ways , you can never have too many and because they are small you can make with just a skein of something extra special. What’s your favourite cowl?

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