Bandana Cowl

Working at Purl Soho, I have a front row seat to the parade of effortlessly chic people that give our neighborhood its renowned style. From here I can report that, for men and women alike, this season's prevailing trend in neckwear is the bandana. Jauntily tied around the neck, it tops off everything from Sunday's T-shirt and jeans to Friday's night-on-the-town dress! The bandana is a sassy, casual touch that suggests that the wearer possesses an innate stylishness. It's the perfect accessory  for those cool mornings when you've hit snooze a few too many times and need to turn "thrown-together-in-a-rush" into "casually glamourous"!

My Bandana Cowl is inspired by my desire to make "effortlessly chic" even more effortless. I was so excited to create something with the same freshness as the tied bandana but without the fiddly aspect of actually having to tie anything!

I chose to make my Cowl out of Swan's Island Bulky, a brand new yarn made from a beautiful blend of undyed merino and alpaca that feels wonderfully soft against the skin. The yarn creates a dense, rich fabric that's cuddly perfection for the chilly days of fall!


  • 1 skein Swans Island Bulky, naturally dyed colors are 100% Organic Merino and undyed colors (Natural, Oatmeal and Seasmoke) are 85% Organic Merino and 15% Alpaca. (This color is Oatmeal).
  • A US #10, 16-inch circular needle
  • Jumbo Locking Stitch Markers, 3 total (optional)

Other Ideas!

This cowl uses approximately 100 - 130 yards and would be stunning made out of many of Purl Soho's yarns. Here are some beautiful options:

  • 2 skeins of Jade Sapphire's 8 Ply Cashmere, 100% Mongolian Cashmere. (Shown above in the color Silver Pearl.)
  • 2 skeins Blue Sky's Techno, 68% Baby Alpaca , 10% Extra Fine Merino, 22% Silk.
  • 1 skein Manos Del Uruguay's Maxima, 100% Extrafine Merino
  • 1 skein Cascade's Eco Cloud, 70% Undyed Merino Wool and 30% Undyed Baby Alpaca


4 stitches and 6 rows = 1 inch in stockinette stitch


19 inches in circumference and 12 inches from top to bottom


S2KPO: Slip 2 stitches together knitwise, knit 1, pass the 2 slipped stitches over the knit stitch. (This makes a centered double decrease.)


NOTE: This pattern is also available as a printer-friendly PDF. Just click here.

Cast on 89 stitches.

Place a marker and join for working in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches.

Set-up Round: Purl all stitches.

Round 1: K43, S2KPO (see Pattern Note, above), knit to end of round. (87 stitches)

Round 2: P42, S2KPO, purl to end of round(85 stitches) 

Round 3: K41, S2KPO, knit to end of round(83 stitches) 

Round 4: P40, S2KPO, purl to end of round(81 stitches) 

The next section is worked back and forth in short rows, building from the point of the bandana to the back of the neck. You'll be turning the work between each row instead of continuing around the needle. For a great Short Row Tutorial, click here!

Row 5: K42, wrap and turn. 

Row 6: P3, wrap and turn.

Row 7: Knit to the wrapped stitch, knit the wrapped stitch making sure to pick up the wrap, k1, wrap and turn.

Row 8: Purl to the wrapped stitch, purl the wrapped stitch making sure to pick up the wrap, p1, wrap and turn

Repeat Rows 7 and 8 eighteen more times. Don't worry if you lose count; you'll know you're done when you wrap and turn the stitches right next to the marker!

You've finished the short rows! 

Next Round: With the knit side facing you, knit to the marker, making sure to pick up the wrapped stitch.

Continue with the knit side facing you, working again in the round. Knit 2 rounds, picking up the wrap of the first stitch.

Set-up Round: K18, place marker, k45, place marker, knit to end of round.

*Decrease Round: Knit to two stitches before the first marker, k2tog, slip marker, knit to the next marker, slip marker, ssk, knit to end of round. (2 stitches decreased)

Knit 3 rounds (or for 1/2 inch).

Repeat from * five more times. (69 stitches)

Next Round: Purl

Next Round: Knit

Repeat the last 2 rounds once more. 

Bind off very loosely in purl. (I like to go up several needle sizes to bind off. In this case, I bound off with a US #15 needle.)

Weave in your ends and block as desired. Blocking isn't strictly necessary for this project, but it significantly improves the drape and softness of the yarn. I'm personally convinced that Soak wash makes anything short of a Brillo Pad feel next-to-the-skin cuddly!

Enjoy your Bandana Cowl on all the brisk fall days to come! -Erin

137 Responses to Bandana Cowl

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  1. purl bee says:

    HI Jessica-

    Sorry to hear you're having this issue. You can save our patterns in two ways:

    You can click on the print button and you will get a print friendly version. When you go to print it there is usually an option in the dialogue box to "open in PDF preview" if you click on that you can then save it as a PDF.

    Or, you can simply copy all of the info you want from the pattern and paste it into a WORD or text document and work from there.

    Thanks for getting in touch about this!


    • Marcia R says:

      I don’t see a “print” button on you site for this pattern

      • Molly from the Purl Bee says:

        Hi Marcia R-

        There is no print button on our new site but this pattern is available as a free prinatble PDF! It is linked under the “Pattern” section of the pattern.

        Thanks for getting in touch!


    • Marcia R says:

      I don’t see a “print” button on your site for this pattern

      • Laura from the Purl Bee says:

        Hi Marcia,
        Thanks for asking about this!
        We have just uploaded a printable PDF of this pattern to the post. If you check under the heading PATTERN, you will find a link to the PDF. Thanks for your interest in the pattern and for writing in!

  2. Beginner Knitter says:

    Are we supposed to use a US #10 or US #10.5 needle? These instructions say both.


  3. purl bee says:

    Hi Beginner Knitter-

    This pattern suggests using a #10 needle. However needle size is always just a recommendation, what matters is that you are getting the correct gauge so we always recommend doing a gauge swatch before you get started.

    Thank you!


  4. ANn says:

    I want to make this for my son, he is six years old but this would be a great alternative to a scarf for school (no ends to pull), but I am afraid this would be quite large on him and wondered if there is a way to make it in a smaller size.

  5. Marsha says:

    I want to use a finer yarn & size 8 needle. Can this pattern be adjusted for this? I cast on 119 stitches to get the same dimensions of 19 in. I've worked thru the double decrease but I'm not sure on how to adjust the short rows. Can it be done on a smaller needle & yarn? Please help I really want to make the cowl.

  6. purl bee says:

    Hi Marsha-

    We don't recommend using a different weight yarn for this pattern because it's a bit complicated to adjust. Sorry! Thanks for writing in and good luck with the project!


  7. purl bee says:

    Hi Ann,

    We haven't written the pattern for a smaller size… yet, but I'd love to make one for my son also, so maybe next fall we'll work on a smaller size Bandana Cowl for the kids!

    Thanks for asking!


  8. Carina says:

    I finished the short rows, and have had some trouble in the past with the weird stitches in the back- picking up the wrapped loops, and loose stitches in the back. I've read through the other comments, and maybe because I'm not familiar with knitting abbreviations, or because I'm a fairly new knitter, not much of it makes sense to me. I also have 83 stitches on my needles as I'm about to begin my first knitted round after the short rows. Anything would help.
    Thank you!

  9. Carina says:

    Edit to my last post: I have 83 stitches, not 81. Should I just decrease in the back?

  10. purl bee says:

    HI Carina,

    I suggest that you knit the final wrap (together with the knit stitch) through the back loop. This means that instead of inserting the needle to left of the front legs, you put the needle into the stitches to the right of the front legs. Essentially, this twists the stitches and takes up some slack.

    As for your 83 stitches… For the Set-Up Round you should K19, place marker, k45, place marker, knit to end of round. Then at the end of repeating from the * five more times, work one more Decrease Round. This should bring your count to 69, right where you want it!

    I hope this helps you finish up your cowl. Thanks for your questions and good luck!


  11. Claire says:

    Are the short rows necessary? i'm a beginner at knitting and was wondering if there was a way to make the scarf without short rows.

  12. purl bee says:

    Hi Claire-

    They are necessary to give this cowl its shape and while they aren't super hard we don't recommend this pattern for a beginner. Whitney's Springtime Bandana might be a better place to start:

    Thank you for getting in touch!


  13. Molly says:

    Is there any way you could make a tutorial video for this scarf?

  14. purl bee says:

    Hi Molly-

    Thanks for getting in touch. We don't have plans to make this into a video tutorial at the moment but we might consider it moving forward. If you have any specific questions please don't hesitate to contact us here. We try to answer all of them!

    Thank you!


  15. meg says:

    Hi! So I think I've mastered the short rows, but I think I'm doing something wrong in regards to the number of stitches between each wrap and turn, because once I finished that section it seems i only did short rows on one side of the cowl – i.e. from the middle point to the beginning marker, not all the way around.

    am i counting wrong somehow? do i go all the way around the round before i get to my wrap and turn stitch? for some reason the instructions aren't resonating and some clarification on this point would be really helpful!

  16. purl bee says:

    Hi Meg,

    Are you knitting in the round while you're working the short row section? You shouldn't be… For the short row section, you actually work back and forth in rows, turning the work at the end of each row. So, to begin, you have the right side (i.e. the knit side) of the work facing you. You knit to just beyond the middle of the row, wrap and turn so that the wrong side (i.e. purl side) of the work is now facing you and work to just the other side of the midpoint of the row, wrap and turn, so that, again, the knit side is facing you, ready for Row 7.

    I hope this puts you on the right path. If not, please let us know and we'll work it out with you! Thanks for your question!


  17. velvet says:

    I have watched and practiced the wt, but I am confused after row 5 . Knit 42 wt, p3, wt, then if I knit to the wrapped stitch, isn’t it just k2 and I am back to the wrapped stitch? What wrapped stitch is row 7 talking about? Thank you for your help.

    • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Velvet,

      Yes… Well, you actually knit 3 stitches and you’re back to the wrapped stitch, then you knit the wrapped stitch (picking up the wrap), knit one more stitch, wrap and turn. The basic concept here is that you’re building a triangle, and each row you’re adding a stitch to the width of that triangle. So at Row 5, you’re still at the narrow point of the triangle, and as you work, the number of stitches between wraps will grow, broadening the width of the triangle.

      Or if all that is too complicated (short rows can be a little mind bending!), rest assured that it sounds like you’re on the right track and give it a whirl! And please let us know if you run into any problems. We’ll be happy to get you back on track!


      • says:

        thanks, i am getting the hang of it, should i use a double pointed needle for the short rows since i am not knitting in the round?

        • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

          Hi again Velvet,

          You’ll probably want to stick with your circular needle, since as you add stitches, you’ll be working in a tubular shape (even though you’ll still be working back and forth in short rows). Having said that, I’m all for doing what feels comfortable! Try the double pointed needles, and if/when they get weird, you can always switch back to the circulars.

          Keep the questions coming and good luck with the short rows!


  18. Sera Lea says:

    Thank you for the wonderful Bandana Cowl Pattern!
    I’ve started with 12ply Oatmeal yarn and 7mm Circulars and have gotten to this part of the pattern (with my comments in brackets):

    ” Row 5: K42, wrap and turn. (DONE)

    Row 6: P3, wrap and turn. (DONE)

    Row 7: Knit to the wrapped stitch, knit the wrapped stitch making sure to pick up the wrap, k1, wrap and turn. (DONE, but not sure if correct)

    Row 8: Purl to the wrapped stitch, purl the wrapped stitch making sure to pick up the wrap, p1, wrap and turn (DONE, but not sure if correct)

    Repeat Rows 7 and 8 eighteen more times. Don’t worry if you lose count; you’ll know you’re done when you wrap and turn the stitches right next to the marker! (NOT COMPLETED)

    You’ve finished the short rows!

    I have found many helpful wrap and turn short row tutorials/videos for this cowl and can do them well, but as this is the first time i have ever used them in a project, I am:
    One: Not following why these 18 more short rows are necessary/what they do for the cowl
    Two: Not sure how ‘short’ these last 18 rows should be.
    Do I go back and forth maybe 4-6 stiches*, wrap and turn and repeat? Or do I go the whole way around to the stitch marker, knit, wrap and turn, go the whole way around to the stitch marker, purl, wrap and turn, and repeat this 18 more times?
    I am so so sorry how incredibly confused I am, I wish I didn’t have to bother you, but I have wanted to knit this cowl since I started knitting 3 months ago (I’m a fast learner :P)
    I will try to do just this part on straight needles as I only have one 40cm/16″ cable, there maybe a swatch pattern you could write up if that wouldn’t be too hard?

    Thank you so very much for any help you can give me, I’d love to continue and finish this lovely cowl :3

    Sera Lea

    • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Sera Lea,

      The short rows are designed to build a triangle of fabric that gives this cowl its shape. You start out knitting rows that are only 3, 5, 7, 9… stitches; each repeat of Rows 7 and 8 makes the row longer, so that by the end you are actually knitting almost all 89 stitches. They are not called short rows because they’re “short” but because they don’t reach the end of the round (or row). You should not be passing the stitch marker when you work the short rows. To practice, you can cast on 24 stitches, purl a row, knit 27, work Rows 6-8, then repeat Rows 7 and 8 until you get the hang of it!

      Please let us know if you have any more questions and good luck!

  19. kay thomas says:

    On this pattern, after decrease Round and knit 3 rounds it than says to repeat from * five more times.
    I don’t see the asterick (*) on my pattern. Could you tell me where it is supposed to be.
    Thank You!

    • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Kay,

      The asterisk is at the beginning of the Decrease Round. Here’s what it looks like in the pattern:

      *Decrease Round: Knit to two stitches before the first marker, k2tog, slip marker, knit to the next marker, slip marker, ssk, knit to end of round. (2 stitches decreased)

      I hope you see it! Thanks for asking and please let us know if you have any other questions!


  20. barbara says:

    did I miss a line where markers should be put to stop the
    short rows?I kept going thinking you meant the marker for
    begining row is where I should stop,but that’s alot more than 18X
    the short rows.

    • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Barbara,

      You didn’t miss a line! You do use the beginning-of-the-round marker to indicate the end of the short rows, and it’s true there are more than 18 short rows: there are 36! Because you “repeat Rows 7 and 8 eighteen more times”, you’re actually working 18 x 2 rows.

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


  21. Marty says:

    I’m having trouble understanding R7 – Knitting into the wrapped stitch and making sure to pick up the wrap. Can you explain it in more detail?

    • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Marty,

      Have you checked out our Short Rows Tutorial? It’s right here: and it has photos and step by step instructions for Picking up the Wrapped Stitch on both the knit and purl sides.

      If you’re still confused, please let us know and we’ll try to get to the bottom of the problem!

      Thank you for your question!


  22. sam says:

    Thanks for the pattern! Have made this several times now for friends. Wanting to make a slightly larger version. Casted on 99 instead of 89 and increased all knits by 10 as well. However, for starting the short rows, should I still just purl 3? I noticed that if I purl 13 that it makes the rows way off center.

  23. Alison says:

    Where do you get the pattern in English please?

    • Molly from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Alison-

      This page is the pattern in English. If you’d like to print it you can copy and paste the information into a Word or Text doc and print from there. I know this isn’t ideal and we’re working on it, but right now this is the best way to print one of our patterns.

      Thank you!


  24. Jennifer Schick says:

    I have started this pattern twice (it’s fairly easy to follow) but 36 short rows of doing 7 and 8 combined do not take you to the marker, has anyone else encountered this?

  25. Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    I have not heard reports of this, nor have I experienced it. How many stitches do you have remaining when you’ve completed the short rows? Are you definitely starting with 81 stitches? Are you remembering to work one stitch past the picked up wrap and then wrapping and turning? Are you repeating Rows 7 and 8 a total of 19 times (i.e. “18 more times”)?

    Fill us in on some details and hopefully we can get you on the right path!


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