DIY Gift Ideas / DIY Projects

It’s (Finally) Cotton Cowl Time

I’ve had this little beauty from the Purl Bee on my “Dear Lord I Have To Make This or I Will Die!!!!!” list since last spring––a thankfully bygone era where there was nowhere to publish such lists. That is, until Pinterest changed all that. So now this cotton cowl is on my “Make this with yarn” Pinterest board and it’s burning a hole in my proverbial creative pocket.

It’s such a simple idea: combine one thick piece of neutral cotton with one thin embroidery thread accent. The color comes through in an organic way and makes for a cowl that feels sophisticated, approachable and not hum-drum in the least.

With this as my inspiration, I’ve decided to take a slightly different route with my project. I’ve got quite a few white-ish colored scarves and cowls, like this Martha Cowl I made last winter (photographed by my bestie McCall from Lucky Malone Photography).

So it’s time to opt for a different color scheme. I’ve been thinking something deeper and more rich, but with the same “I wear cotton cowls and use biodegradable dish soap” sort of look. Like if this mood board from Style Me Pretty were to wrap itself around my neck.

Now another key difference between the beautiful Purl Bee number and the cowl I have in mind is that admission to the trail I’m blazing is going to cost you about 60 bucks less than if you whip up the Purl Bee version.

Before tax, their yarn comes out to about $85. Let me say, I am all for beautiful, indulgent, whole-paycheck yarn. And really, if have money to burn there’s really no better bonfire than Purl Soho in my opinion. Talk about a crafter’s dream come true. It’s truly a beautiful, extremely well-currated store. But I like to do LOTS of projects, so at times, I have to sacrifice a little quality (or posh NYC retail experience) for a little quantity. In this case, my yarn sans tax and plus one Michael’s coupon ran about $25.30. It’s honestly not that cheap, but I guess that’s usually hard to avoid when the pattern requires knitting with two strands together because you’re getting less mileage out of each inch of yarn you pay for.

So, here’s what I’ve come up with for my take on the Purl Bee cowl.

1) 4 skeins of Sugar ‘n Cream cotton in Denim

2) 8 skeins of DMC thread (weight 5) in a variety of browns and yellows (each skein is 27.3 yards)

3) 1 skein of Pattens Stretch Sock in Mineral (there’s no reason this needs to be stretchy, I just happened to like these colors and it’s about the same thickness as the embroidery thread)

I’m going to get started swirling this all together tonight. I’ll give you an update on how it is (or isn’t?) turning out very soon. And I’m hoping that if I knit diligently enough, Fall will just barge right in and make himself at home. As much as I don’t mind these 85 degree overcast days, the 93% humidity isn’t really conducive to wearing anything knit. Or really anything at all for that matter.

(Top two images of completed cowl curtesy of Purl Bee.)


  • Nancy
    October 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks for the share!

  • […] Fall literally whispering outside my window, football on TV and my cotton cowl almost finished, it’s time to think cardigans! Given that I can buy a really cute knit […]

  • […] Double the cowlness: inspired by the cotton cowl scarf I started last week, my mom decided to make one herself. (Apparently slippers and the Anthro-Inspired Scarflet […]

  • […] = 'wpp-262'; var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true};Earlier this week, I finished the cotton cowl scarf I was making for McCall’s birthday present. This in itself is awesome, but it presented me with […]

  • Ari
    October 25, 2011 at 2:55 am

    Hi!! I just found your page, and I’m so in love with this scarf. I know the basics of knitting and wonder how difficult this would be to make for a novice? I would LOVE to make this for xmas for my sisters!!
    I’d really love any insight and help you have on this.


    P.S. Just bought the mustard colored flats from Urban Outfitters too!!

    • Make and Do Girl
      October 25, 2011 at 5:13 am

      Hey Ari,

      This is the PERFECT project for a novice. It just involves holding one thread of cotton with one thread of embroidery floss (as if they’re one piece of yarn) and knitting every row. I used size 10 needles and cast on 32 stitches. Then I just knit for 60 inches, changing the color of the embroidery floss every so often. When I had 60 inches, I cast off and then sewed both ends of the scarf together to make it into a cowl. Easy peasy. Go for it! Let me know if you have any questions.

      Good luck!


      • mom
        October 26, 2011 at 3:27 am

        Ari, I made the same cowl and used crochet thread ( the thicker kind) for my second color. It is alot less expensive and comes wound on a cardboard form so it doesn’t tangel like floss does.

  • Ari
    October 26, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Ooooh thanks for all the tips. I’m mustering up the courage to go and buy what I need this weekend. Crossing my fingers I can make this happen.

    • Make and Do Girl
      October 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      Good luck, Ari! Let me know if you have questions. This is a really fun speedy project. Hope you enjoy!

  • […] Wrap it up: last week I started a cowl scarf that combined cotton yarn, sock yarn and embroidery floss to create a cool variegated look. Well, […]

  • 5.5 Days of Awesomeness -
    November 11, 2011 at 10:02 am

    […] have this friend, McCall. I blog about her at least once a week. Like here, here and […]

  • […] this week, I finished the cotton cowl scarf I was making for McCall’s birthday present. This in itself is awesome, but it presented me with […]

  • Kelly
    August 22, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Do you have the finished pictures of your project? Also is there a step by step guide for this one somewhere that I can follow? I would like to see how it turned out and how to do it right. Thanks! I adore the cream and colored Purl Bee cowl you have pictured.


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