I’ve spoken a few times about how I once had my doubts about Cowls, but have since been through something of a conversion. Like so many converts, I now wonder who on earth my sceptical past self was, and want to convert every one of you to the virtues of cowls.
As I sit here typing, swathed in wool socks, sweater and cowl, steaming cup of tea to my right and purring ageing black cat ensconced between keyboard and monitor, my zeal could not be stronger.
‘Why privilege the cowl?’ you may ask. Well socks and sweaters we all know about, and they are amazing. I’ve wittered on about how amazing hand knit socks are before and everyone knows you can’t beat a sweater in cold weather right?
But cowls, I’m sure there are others like me who thought the shawl was all, and took a bit of convincing on the cowl front. But as elegant as shawls undoubtedly are there’s a practicality to a cowl that makes it a key wardrobe addition for winter activities.
So what are the benefits of a cowl? First and foremost, they stay put. No shawl pins or styling and tying mastery are required to keep them in place. This is perfect for gardening, or if when dog walking you need to bend down to pick up, or forage that mushroom or bit of fallen lichen for the dyepot.
Cowls can also complement other layers of wool or take the centre stage. Smaller shaped sculptral cowls (see below) can easily be worn under coats, scarves and shawls and be revealed as layers are peeled off.
This range of styles and levels of warmth also make cowls great for transitioning between spaces of different temperatures without having to remove and carry everything. You know that feeling of being out in the cold, then going into somewhere that seems totally overheated and having to peel off layers like an onion.
From a knitting point of view Cowls are a great canvas for techniques. From the selection below you can see how wonderful cables and cowls go together, as do picot tucks. Despite being technique intensive, because they’re quite small pieces they still knit up quickly and make perfect gift knits. Who would not be totally impressed receiving any one of these.
Longer cowls may involve more knitting but Valdes (top right) is such a simple slipped stitch colourwork cowl that it’s so easy to get into the rhythm and memorise the ‘pattern’, if you can really call a two row slipped stitch pattern a pattern. Similarly Dorotea, (bottom right) combines a really simple eyelet pattern section with simple stocking stitch in the round. This pattern also has an amazing, even if I say so myself, folded hem (see here for details)
If you want to try a cowl for yourself, all my cowl patterns can be bought via my Payhip store with 20% off using the code CowlWeek.
Any questions or thoughts, please do share below.
Speak soon, all the best and happy knitting,