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Cashmere Cowl


One of my all-time favorite patterns is the cowl, which is technically just a knitted tube. But, when I slip it over my head it becomes a softly draping beautiful necklace that I want to wear every day from December til March.

This is the perfect travel project - it has so few ingredients!  I knit my cashmere cowl as Nick and I travelled from Seattle to Portland and back again, crossing the mouth of the mighty Columbia River. 

My cowl is a variation of the beautiful Pashmina Cowl from Joelle's Last Minute Knitted Gifts. She used a smaller needle to knit Joseph Galler's luxurious pashmina yarn in stockinette stitch.  -- Isabelle

pashmina cowl.jpg 

 The Materials



  • yarn: 250-350 yards of lace weight yarn or fingering weight yarn.  I used Lobster Pot 2-ply Cashmere, an absolutely amazing hand-dyed cashmere.  The way to audition yarns for this project is by holding them up under your chin and feeling how soft they are.
  • circular needles: This project is knit in the round.  I suppose you could also knit it back and forth on straight needles and then sew it together. I used Addi Turbo 16" circular needles in US size 8.
  • I also used a stitch marker to help me find the beginning of the round. 



The Pattern


5 - 6 stitches = 1 inch on US size 8 needles in K1, P1 Rib Stitch pattern.


Loosely cast on an even number of stitches between 100 - 110.

Join into a round.  Take care not to twist your stitches as you begin knitting!  As you prepare to knit the first stitch, take a second to look at all of the stitches to make sure they are all heading in the same direction. not spiralling around the needle. 

Rib Stitch pattern: *K1, P1, repeat from *.   

Work in K1, P1 Rib Stitch pattern until cowl measures about 13 inches, or desired length. Bind off very loosely and weave in tails.


Reader Comments (18)

I love this pattern and the cowl that I made from it is beautiful and very cozy. I wear it no less than once a week and always get compliments on it.
February 16, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterfinnyknits
Very nice thanks for sharing.
August 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEmbroidery Designs Shop
Just a quick thank you - found your blog through a search for cowl patterns. This is just gorgeous! I'm starting my version in Debby Bliss merino and will post it to Flickr when done. Cowls are my accessory du jour as it were, so I can wear them while working in the studio. I've bookmarked you so I can explore more later. :)
October 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTina Mammoser
I am looking forward to knitting this cowl but am having trouble with casting on. I am using the recommended circular needle size and the same yarn but it is very finicky and twisting. I have tried casting on a larger needle size and transferred to the smaller needle but this did not work either. I am unable after 2 attempts to get it working. Are there any tips you have for me?
Thank you
July 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrobyn
Hi Robyn,
What sort of cast on are you using? We recommend using a long tail cast on and doing it very loose so that you can re-orient the stitches easily once you have all of the stitches on your needles. If you need a little help with a long tail cast on check out the first video (for long tail cast on) at this link:
Let us know if you need further assistance!
July 28, 2008 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
This is a beautiful, easy-to-make pattern that produces a gorgeous cowl. It can be worn over any sweater, or under a jacket to create a lovely neckline. Thank you for providing this pattern; I enjoyed every minute while knitting it! Now, how many more can I make before Christmas for all my friends?!
December 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMaxine Chiu
I'm always knitting scarves, but a cowl...I like this idea. I'll definitely be knitting a cowl in the near future. Yours looks superb! It looks soft, comfortable, and the color is lovely.
October 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdenise
I love this cowl and look forward to knitting it in cashmere. Thank you for sharing the pattern.
December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaye
beautiful!! if only i had found this before christmas....but, im still going to be making them for myself and those that i love. thanks so much for the pattern
December 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkristen
I know this post is uber old -- but here goes. My mom bought me two skeins of cashmere merino blend for my birthday, and I'm looking for the PERFECT cowl to use them. The brown cowl from the book listed here has the perfect drape and pattern I'm looking for, but my yarn is aran weight. How would you change the pattern to achieve the same look, but in an aran weight yarn?
November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessie
Hi Jessie,

You'll have to knit a gauge swatch to determine how many stitches per inch you get with your aran weight yarn. Then multiply the gauge by the circumference of the cowl, cast on that number of stitches, and knit away!

Thanks for your question and good luck!
November 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpurlbee
I also love this oh so pretty soft looking Cowl. I have some Rowan Felted Tweed
and Rowan Kidsilk Haze.. Matter of fact, I have 2 Balls of each so I may try knitting this Cowl - even though it isn't Cashmere, I think it might look pretty and soft..

I have my Addi-Turbo Click Interchangeable Circular Needles but should think about getting the Lace Addi-Turbo Clicks as well to have in my collection.

Plus one can never have enough Cords - as projects get started and then put taside to start another. I have at present 2 UFO on needles but they both just need the finishing which hopefully won't take a lot of time.

And none of the UFO are for me, but for Christmas Gifts. So must get knitting.

I always enjoy visiting the Purlbee site to see and read what everyone is working on.
Thank you for sharing with us.

Toodles & Happy Knitting...
November 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSandyB
Sometimes the most simple patterns are the most stunning. I am knitting the cashmere cowl with Jojoland 2 ply as a Christmas present for my sister-in-law and I can't get over how much I love it, it's so delicate and feminine (I just might have to knit one for myself!)

Thank you so much for your amazing blog and website!! I check it almost daily, and I believe that all of my Christmas knitting projects this year I have gotten either from this blog or from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Happy Holidays :)
December 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShannon
I am very new to knitting, but I do know how to do the knit and purl stitch. I just started this cowl thinking it looked easy! But, it is not looking ribbed at all, just looks like a mess of stitches. Any idea what I could be doing wrong?

March 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdebi
Hi Debi,

Are you sure that you're bringing your yarn to the front of the needles to purl and then bringing it to the back to knit? Between each and every stitch of this pattern you have to move your yarn either to the front or the back.

If you've got this technique down, then my other thought would be that you may be a loose knitter and so your stitches are looking kind of messy. If this is the case, then you may want to try going down a needle size or two.

I hope this gets you on the right path. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

April 1, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Beautiful! Can I replace the yarn with the Jade sapphire 2 ply? Or would you recommend something different?
November 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKezia
Hi Kezia-

That would be a perfect substitution!


November 7, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I've made three of these so far in Jade Sapphire silk cashmere and the mongolian cashmere. Both work a treat. They're so quick to do as presents and so snuggly! Dead easy! Thank you.
May 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFiona

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