Striped Cotton Cowl

Spring is here on our calendars, but it sure doesn't feel like it here in New York! Everyone is still walking around bundled up in... you guessed it, cowls! They were the word on the street this winter when we brought you the Big Herringbone Cowl, and as we move into spring, cowls are here to stay, now in cool cottons and spring colors. It's really no wonder we love the cowl: no questions of wrapping or tying, no loose ends dragging through mud puddles and no getting caught in subway doors! I'm sold!

And so for spring, I decided to make a cuddly soft cotton cowl because April is no picnic! For the main yarn we chose the superlatively cozy Blue Sky Cotton in the subtly beautiful color, "Drift", a pale, pale gray, almost white. To it we added Olympus's Sashiko Thread in bright, beachy stripes. The simple matte cotton of the Sashiko Thread and the casually natural Blue Sky Cotton conspire to make a no-fuss cowl with a whole lot of style. A little off kilter, a little rustic and a lot charming!


The Materials

Get all the yarn you need with Purl Soho's Yarn for Striped Cotton Cowl kit. It includes...

  • 3 skeins of Blue Sky's Cotton, 100% Cotton. This color is "Drift".
  • Olympus's Sashiko Thread, 100% Cotton. I used 3 skeins of Off White; 2 skeins of each of the following colors: Carrot Orange, Yellow, Gold and Aqua; and 1 skein of Red and of Navy. (If you'd like to design your own stripes, it will be helpful to know that the whole cowl uses 400 yards of yarn and each skein of Sashiko Thread is 44 yards, so at minimum you'll need 9 or 10 skeins.)

You'll also need...

The Pattern


4 1/4 stitches = 1 inch in garter stitch

Finished Size

60 inches around and 8 1/2 inches wide

Notes on the Pattern

  • When this pattern refers to "ridges", it means a garter stitch ridge which is formed by knitting two rows. Counting "ridges" is an easy way to determine how many rows you have knitted without having to count as you work. If you find this confusing, just multiply the number of ridges given by 2 and that is how many rows you should knit (ie 3 1/2 ridges is 7 rows).
  • You will always be knitting with one strand of the Blue Sky Cotton, called the Main Yarn (MY), and one strand of Sashiko Thread. It's easy! Just pull a strand from each of the two balls. Don't worry about anything except making sure you get your needle under both strands as you knit.
  • To avoid an overwhelming number of ends to weave in, I knit some of the ends in as I worked. Just hold the tail(s) with the working yarns and knit it along for four or five stitches. Hardly noticeable and very time saving!


With the Main Yarn (MY) and the Off White Sashiko Thread, use a Provisional Cast On to cast on 36 stitches. (Why a provisional cast on? So that at the end of the project you can graft the cast on and cast off ends together, avoiding a seam. However, if you find a provisional cast on a bit overwhelming, then just cast on normally, and when you're finished you can sew the two ends together. Your cowl will still be beautiful!)

Knit 3 ridges. Cut the Off White Thread.

With the MY and the Orange, knit 15 1/2 ridges. Cut the Orange Thread.

With the MY and the Yellow, knit 7 ridges.

You will continue in this pattern, cutting the old Thread at the end of each section and adding the new Thread at the beginning of the next section. Here is how the stripe sequence continues:

  • 2 1/2 ridges with Navy.
  • 11 ridges with Off White.
  • 1 1/2 ridges with Red.
  • 6 ridges with Off White.
  • 3 1/2 ridges with Aqua.
  • 2 ridges with Orange.
  • 8 1/2 ridges with Aqua.
  • 12 ridges with Gold.
  • 5 1/2 ridges with Yellow.
  • 4 ridges with Off White.
  • 2 1/2 ridges with Red.
  • 4 ridges with Orange.
  • 12 1/2 ridges with Off White.
  • 6 ridges with Aqua.
  • 2 1/2 ridges with Navy.
  • 4 ridges with Gold.
  • 1 1/2 ridges with Aqua.
  • 15 ridges with Yellow.
  • 3 1/2 ridges with Red.
  • 3 ridges with Off White.
  • 6 1/2 ridges with Orange.
  • 2 ridges with Off White.
  • 13 1/2 ridges with Gold.
  • 4 ridges with Aqua.
  • 1 1/2 ridges with Red.
  • 3 ridges with Gold.
  • 4 1/2 ridges with Off White.
  • 9 ridges with Yellow.
  • 4 1/2 ridges with Navy.
  • 14 ridges with Aqua.
  • 1 1/2 ridges with Off White.

Cut both yarns, leaving a tail approximately 36 inches long.

Preparing to Graft

Bring the ends of the cowl around to meet each other, making VERY sure that there are no twists in the fabric (unless, of course, you intentionally want one!).

Pick up the 36 stitches of the Provisional Cast On (check our tutorial for how-to's), making sure, if you're using straight needles, that the ends of your needles are pointing the same way. If you're using circular needles, you'll need to ensure that the tail is situated at one end, not caught in the middle of your needles.

For the grafting to be seamless you need one end of the cowl to have ended on a purl row and the other end to have ended on a knit row. Look closely at the rows closest to your needles and double check that this is the case. If it's not, then take out the last row you knit, and reorient your stitches on the needle so the tail is still at the end.

Here's how ending with a purl row looks (see how the purl bumps are snug up against the needle?):

And here's how ending with a knit row looks (see how the last row looks like little "v's", aka knit stitches?):

Now thread the tail onto a tapestry needle and you're ready to begin the Kitchener Stitch.

Kitchener Stitch

NOTE: For a detailed Kitchener Stitch tutorial, click here. It's important to know that our tutorial shows how to graft two pieces of stockinette together, while here we're grafting together two pieces of garter stitch. So the order of our steps will be slightly different than the tutorial's, but you may still find the photos very helpful.

The first two steps of Kitchener Stitch are set up steps and only happen once at the beginning. Holding the two knitting needles parallel to each other, thread the yarn through the first stitch of the FRONT needle (the needle closer to you) as if to PURL and LEAVE the stitch on the needle.

Next, thread the yarn through the first stitch of the BACK needle as if to PURL and LEAVE it on the needle.

That completes the set up. Continue...

Step 1: Thread the yarn through the first stitch of the FRONT needle as if to KNIT. REMOVE the stitch from the needle.

Step 2: Thread the yarn through the next stitch on the FRONT needle as if to PURL. LEAVE it on the needle.

Step 3: Thread the yarn through the first stitch on the BACK needle as if to KNIT. REMOVE it from the needle.

Step 4: Thread the yarn through the next stitch on the BACK needle as if to PURL. LEAVE it on the needle.

Repeat Steps 1 through 4 until two stitches remain, then KNIT the FRONT stitch and REMOVE it and KNIT the BACK stitch and REMOVE it.

A LITTLE TIP: After years of messy grafting, I've finally learned that holding my index finger between the knitting needles creates good tension and a neat finish! Like this:

Now all that's left to do is to weave in any ends you have left and to enjoy on your new Striped Cotton Cowl!

Click here to add a comment

59 Responses to Striped Cotton Cowl

  1. Im says:

    Is the orange you used Sashiko Carrot Orange 04? Also, there isn't a white in stock of the Sashiko. Can you recommend a white in the DMC? Thanks!

  2. purl bee says:

    Hi Im,

    Yes, the orange is Carrot Orange. I've changed the materials list to accurately say that (Sashiko added a new orange since this project was posted and changed some names around, so thank you for straightening us out!).

    By the way, you can get all of the yarn together in one place with Purl Soho's Yarn for Striped Cotton Cowl kit. You can find it right here: .

    Or if you'd like to assemble your own colors, you can either contact our web site to find out when the Off-White Sashiko Thread will be back in stock (, or use DMC's #3866 (

    Please let us know if you have any other questions and thank again for cluing us into the orange discrepancy!


  3. steff says:

    I love my cowl. Now after quite a lot of wear it needs to be washed.
    I am concerned that the Sashiko thread will bleed into the Blue Sky yarn when washed. Will it? Any suggestions on the best manner of cleaning?

  4. purl bee says:

    Hi Steff,

    We have never heard reports of the Sashiko Thread bleeding. I'd recommend hand washing your cowl in a gentle detergent, rinsing it, squeezing it, and laying it out flat to dry. It should be fine!

    Thanks for asking and I'm so glad your cowl gets a lot of love!


  5. Megan says:

    I cannot wait to knit this and have my BSA cotton in my cart. However, I was wondering if you could recommend a multi-colored or variegated thread/ yarn to carry along so that I would not have to cut/reattach so many different threads. I travel/fly a lot and this would greatly increase the conscience if this project. Thanks so much! I love the Purl Bee <3

  6. purl bee says:

    HI Megan,

    Great idea! I would definitely use Koigu's Painter's Palette Premium Merino ( There are spectacular colorways to choose from and it's just a beautiful yarn. Although KPPPM is a fingering weight, it's a bit thicker than the Sashiko Thread, so you may need to go up a needle size. Experiment a little!

    Thanks for the question and please let us know if you have any more!


  7. Katie says:

    I purchased some DMC embroidery floss to use for this project and I'm wondering if I should separate the strands. Using it as is seems like it might be a little thick.

  8. purl bee says:

    Hi Katie,

    I think the DMC seems about the same thickness as the Sashiko Thread, but I'd recommend testing it out! Consider if you like both the density of the fabric and the proportion of floss to yarn. Your experimentation may also require that you try different needles sizes. For example, if you like how the DMC looks with 6 strands but not how it feels, then you may need to change the needle size.

    I hope this puts you on the right path! Please let us know if you have any more questions and thank you so much for this one!


  9. Katie says:

    Just wanted to update: I didn't end up separating the DMC floss and am knitting this with Cascade 220. I'm over 1/2 way done, and it's coming out lovely. This is the perfect striped cowl. Beautiful colors without being too overwhelmingly "rainbow".

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