A Scarf Cowl, Not a Scowl

It was an easy decision: long flowy scarf to wind around and around my son’s neck this winter, driving him (and me) mad?  or…  knit a simple, form-hugging scarf that goes around the neck once, staying in place?

Remember this scene from A Christmas Vacation?


Tough choice.

Hence, the scarf cowl. 

I tried combining the words for some nifty title today, but a s-cowl didn’t seem quite the thing.  That’s what I’m trying to avoid.  If I could have gotten a shot of Riley smiling, it would have helped to prove my point…

If you knit, here’s a very simple, one-day pattern for you.  If you don’t knit, pass this along to someone who does.  It makes a quick and lost-cost Christmas gift for the bare-necked child in your life.  Also makes good use of some left-over yarn you may have lurking in the bottom of your craft bag.

The Scarf Cowl

By the way, I’m calling it that because a true “cowl” is usually bulky, and sort of flowy and floppy.  My toddler won’t be happy with a giant sheep wrapped around his neck.  This cowl is only as wide as a typical scarf.  Enjoy!


Small ball of yarn

Size 7 needles

Crochet hook or tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Small-ish buttons – able to be pushed through the purled ribbing

Needle and thread for attaching buttons


Cast on 72 stitches for a cowl with a tail (ie. room to grow!).  Feel free to adjust this measurement smaller if you want a more form-fitting piece.

Row 1: Knit 5, Purl 1.  Repeat to the end of the row, ending on a purl stitch.

Row 2: Purl 5, Knit 1.  Repeat to the end of the row, ending on a knit stitch.

You are creating a very wide-ribbed piece:

(Hi, Quinn!)

Continue alternating rows 1 and 2 until the scarf cowl is as wide as you’d like it to be.  Don’t forget to take into account the natural rolling in of the edges.  It will do so significantly, making it skinnier.

Cast off loosely and weave in the ends.

Use your child or someone else’s (preferably someone you know :-)) as a model, and try the scarf cowl on for size.  Figure out how tight or loose the child will need it.

Finishing this project is very open-ended.  Choose the way that seems best to you.  I sewed on two buttons at one end of the piece…

…and you can just ignore the little loops of yarn that show in that photo.  That was one failed attempt at finishing.  No loops. 

For me, the best method was to fold over the extra length, and push the buttons through the purled section of ribbing.  It’s more open and flexible than the knit sections.

This is such a fast knit, and so cute in the end…  Hope you enjoy making it and watching it get a ride around a snowy backyard this year.


2 thoughts on “A Scarf Cowl, Not a Scowl

  1. Pingback: Skein of Wonders | The Full Vine

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