There’s nothing better than cozying up with a warm, hand-knit cowl when the weather turns chilly. And the beauty of knitting one yourself is that you can make it as thick, thin, simple, or complex as you’d like! In this article, I’ll share 25 of my favorite knit cowl patterns for you to check out. Enjoy!
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Best Knit Cowl Patterns
A knit cowl is the perfect accessory to add warmth and style to your fall and winter outfits. And as a knitter, I’m always on the lookout for fun, modern cowl patterns to make and wear.
In this list, you’ll discover 25 delightful cowl patterns, from easy knits for beginners to more advanced projects. Whether giving cowls as gifts or making them for yourself, you’ll find fresh inspiration ahead.
But what exactly is a cowl, anyway?
A knitted cowl is a tube-like accessory worn around the neck, similar to a scarf. But unlike scarves, cowls are knit in a continuous circle. To put one on, you simply slip it over your head.
Great for cold weather. Cowls stay snugly around your neck and won’t blow around in the wind. They’re less bulky than scarves, so they fit nicely under jackets, too. Cowls are excellent for doing outdoor work or enjoying winter sports like sledding, skiing, and ice skating.
Easy gift idea. Cowls make wonderful knit gifts, too! You can give almost anyone a cowl without worrying too much about the size. Since cowls are worn around the neck, you have more flexibility with fit than you would with a sweater or other fitted garment.
Customizable. But the best part of knitted cowls? You can customize them however you like – go bold with chunky cables, play with colorwork, or keep it simple with basic stripes.
All three patterns are excellent “first cowl” projects to build your skills. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to try more advanced patterns!
To make a knit cowl, you’ll need:
Yarn. See my tips on choosing the best yarn for cowls right below this supplies list!
Knitting needles. Circular and double-pointed needles (DPNs) are most popular for cowls. Check your pattern and/or yarn label to see what size you’ll need.
What yarn is best for making cowls?
For maximum coziness, stick to yarns that are soft and warm. Merino and alpaca are great choices. Or go with acrylic yarn for a budget-friendly, easy-care option. Some of our favorite yarns for making cowls include Lion Brand Wool-Ease, Purl Soho Plenty, and Malabrigo Worsted.
Techniques to Know
The cowl patterns in this list range from beginner to intermediate skills. Make sure to read through your chosen pattern first to ensure you’re comfortable with the techniques required, which may include the following:
If you love to rock the bandana look, this cowl is definitely the winter style for you. There are a few different versions of this pattern, including colorblock, breton stripe, traditional stripe, and monogram.
This long and drapey cowl is a beautiful way to add some color to your outfit while keeping the heat in (and cold out!) at the same time. Its waffle-like fabric is soft and warm, and it’s available in four different sizes to get your perfect fit.
Like its name suggests, this pattern is simple to make but gets the job done when it comes to keeping your neck warm! This easy pattern knits up quickly and would make a wonderful gift. It’s worked seamlessly in the round and would also be a great choice for beginners.
Made with a strand of lace and a strand of worsted held together, this shrug creates a delicate yet warm fabric that you can sink your shoulders into! It pulls down below the neckline for extra warmth, and is such a cute addition to your favorite sweater!
This simple pattern is made with sock yarn and is super easy to knit. It’s made with the stockinette stitch and is a great pattern for working away on while watching TV or chatting with a friend. It can be worn on your neck, pulled up over your face, or all the way up on your head to stay toasty warm!
This modern cowl is knit with two strands of fingering held together. It drapes lightly over your shoulders and would be a beautiful addition to your favorite winter outfits. This pattern is a good option for advanced beginners.
Here’s a chunky cowl that can be worn looped around your neck or hanging over your favorite coat. It knits up quickly and is a great beginner project. It’s super warm and would also make an excellent winter gift!
This gorgeous pattern can be made with either worsted yarn or with fingering-weight yarn held double. Featuring textured stripes, it’s an easy way to add a thoughtful and beautiful touch to your outfit. It measures approximately 9” wide by 24” in circumference and is best for intermediates.
This lacy pattern adds delicate beauty that’s also so comfortable. It’s made with fingering-weight yarn, which means it’s lightweight and perfect for those spring and early fall days. This pattern is best for intermediates.
Made with decreases and increases, this pattern has extra volume that covers every part of your neck and keeps gusts of wind out. It’s knit with a one-round repeat, so it’s great for carrying along with you and pulling out whenever you have a few minutes to knit!
This cute design is made with a reversible slip-stitch rib pattern. The pattern includes two different styles: a long, infinity-style cowl, and a shorter, neck warmer cowl. Made with super bulky yarn, this one knits up quickly and is cozy and squishy, too!
Keep the icy winds out with this large, cozy, wrap-around cowl. It’s made with the traditional herringbone stitch which creates a drapey, beautiful, and cultured look. The finished size is approximately 58” in circumference by 14” high.
This textured, honeycomb fabric pattern is capped on both ends by a cozy ribbed cuff. It’s knit with DK and lace mohair strands held together to create a comfortable cowl that’s not too thick. This pattern is best for intermediates.
This cable knit pattern is fun to make and easy to memorize, making it a great knitting project for relaxing with your yarn and needles at the end of the day. It includes written instructions as well as a chart for the cable pattern. This pattern is ideal for intermediates.
This quick cowl is thin enough to wear under your sweatshirt or jacket without adding too much bulk. It’s made with a drop-stitch motif that creates an interesting, reversible fabric. The pattern is written for one size, but includes instructions for adapting it to be smaller or larger.
Combine your two favorite colors in this cozy, stockinette tube. It’s made with two-tone stripes, with the width of the stripes reversing halfway around the cowl. This easy pattern would make a beautiful gift!
This unique project features beautiful colorwork displaying cozy animals (sheep and alpaca) all around. It features a large, simple chart that would be great for practicing colorwork. Choose your favorite winter colors for this snowy pattern.
This colorful pattern is a fun option for intermediate knitters who are practicing colorwork. Combine your favorite shades or use up some of your scrap yarns with this beautiful and intricate-looking cowl. It’s available in small or medium.
This slouchy cowl features an i-cord edge and is a cute way to spruce up your winter sweaters. It’s made using brioche knitting, which creates a squishy, textured fabric. The finished cowl measures 32” in circumference by 14” tall.
This wraparound cowl is made with sport-weight yarn that makes for a lighter option - great for spring or fall wearing. It’s made with the linen stitch and is ideal for advanced beginners. Wrap this tri-color shawl around your neck to stay warm on the way to the office or out to a nice dinner!
This lacy cowl features a beautiful leaf pattern all the way around that’s especially fitting for fall. This would be a great way to add color and life to a simple outfit. This textured pattern is best for intermediate knitters.
Drape this light and lacy cowl over your shoulders for a fancy evening out, or dress it down with your favorite sweater and coat. The easy stitch pattern creates beautiful, diagonal lines throughout the scarf. It’s easy to adjust this pattern to make it smaller or larger.
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Sarah Stearns has helped millions of makers find their next craft project with free patterns and step-by-step tutorials on her blog, sarahmaker.com. Read more.
With over a decade of experience in knitting and crochet, she has been featured in prominent publications like The New York Times, Scientific American, Good Housekeeping, Vox, Apartment Therapy, and Lifehacker.