White Caps Cowl

My mom lives an urban life in a landlocked city, but I've always felt she belongs in a small town by the water. It's so easy to picture her hopping on a boat or walking along the shore, her salt and pepper hair mussed by the sea air, her sneakers tattered, her jeans old and worn, but her sweater a chic slip of linen or cashmere.

Have you ever known someone who so throughly embodies a duality that you can hardly describe her? That's how I feel about my mom, but one thing I can say for sure is that my mother's elegance depends on her rustic nature. You'd never see her in make-up, but that is precisely what makes her beautiful. Whether I knew it or not, when I started this cowl, I was knitting with her in mind. It, like she, pairs unlikely opposites that together create a one-of-a-kind amalgam, radiant with depth and beauty!

I knit this cowl primarily with Habu's thick-and-thin Cotton Nerimake Slub. It creates a decadent, cloud-like fabric that is both hearty and ethereal. And set against the cotton are thin stripes of Alchemy's Silken Straw, a meticulous, flat silk ribbon with a crisp finish and pearly shine. Together, these yarns form a graceful and surprising union, each complementing the other!

We named this the White Caps Cowl because the cotton captures the feeling of frothy caps on ocean waves while the silk subtly shimmers amidst the cowl's folds and drapes, like light dancing across the surface of the sea. To add some duality to your life, you can get the full pattern for the White Caps Cowl here! -Laura


You can find all the yarn you need righ here in our White Caps Cowl kit. It includes...

  • Contrast Color (CC): 1 skein of Alchemy's Silken Straw, 100% silk, in the color Platinum.
  • Maine Color (MC): 2 cones of Habu's Cotton Nerimaki Slub, 100% cotton, in the color Undyed. (If you're picking your own colorway, be aware that the Nerimaki dyed colors come in skeins of only 108 yards, and so you will need 3 skeins of any dyed color.)

You'll also need...


8 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch using the Silken Straw


Finished Circumference at the Top: 17-inches

Finished Circumference at the Bottom: 23-inches

Finished Length: 21-inches


Knit the first stitch of each row (not including the first and last 6 rows) with both yarns held together. This creates a handsome faux seam that runs vertically and adds a bit of structure and also eliminates the number of tails you would have to weave in.


Begin at the Bottom Rolled Edge

With the Contrast Color (CC), cast on 184 stitches.

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

Knit 6 rounds.

Change to the Main Color (MC).

NOTE: Do not cut yarn. As you continue, knit the first stitch of each following round with both yarns held together.

Purl 1 round.

**With MC, knit 12 rounds.

Change to CC, knit 4 rounds.

Repeat from ** 9 more times.

Shape the Top

With MC, knit 2 rounds.

Next Round: *K23, place marker, repeat from * to end of round.

Decrease Round: *Knit to 2 stitches before next marker, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (176 stitches)

Knit 3 rounds evenly.

Repeat Decrease Round. (168 stitches)

Knit 3 rounds evenly.

Repeat Decrease Round. (160 stitches)

With CC, knit 4 rounds.

With MC, Knit 3 rounds evenly.

Repeat Decrease Round. (152 stitches)

Knit 3 rounds evenly.

Repeat Decrease Round. (144 stitches)

Knit 3 rounds evenly.

Repeat Decrease Round, removing makers as you go. (136 stitches)

Finish with the Top Rolled Edge

Still with MC, purl one round.

NOTE: Cut the MC yarn, you will no longer be knitting the first stitch of each row with both yarns held together.

With CC, knit 6 rounds.

Bind off loosely, weave in your ends and block!

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85 Responses to White Caps Cowl

  1. Kay says:

    The cowl is gorgeous! Do you have any suggestion for shortening it a bit for a more petite person who might be overwhelmed by the fullness? I notice it tapers in –. Thanks!

  2. purl bee says:

    Hi Kay,
    First off, thank you. Secondly… if you'd like to shorten the cowl, rather than repeating from * 9 more times, maybe only repeat 7 or 6 more times. (That will eliminate 2 or 3 sections of the cotton and silk stripes.) After that continue to the shaping portion of the pattern and follow as usual.

    Hope that helps.

  3. purl bee says:

    Hi Kay,
    First off, thank you. Secondly… if you'd like to shorten the cowl, rather than repeating from * 9 more times, maybe only repeat 7 or 6 more times. (That will eliminate 2 or 3 sections of the cotton and silk stripes.) After that continue to the shaping portion of the pattern and follow as usual.

    Hope that helps.

  4. kelly says:

    Hello! This is gorgeous and I'm itching to order my yarn and get started. The only question I have is about how to adjust the sizing a bit. I have a thin neck and most cowls hang off me in a very unflattering way. If I want to keep the length but make it narrower so it would fit tighter around my neck, would I just choose a number of stitches to cast on and then proceed as the pattern states? Or is there any math involved to keep from messing up the decrease section?

    As you can probably tell, I've never modified a pattern before and the mathematics of knitting are a mystery to me! Many thanks for any advice you can offer!


  5. purl bee says:

    Hi Kelly.
    Make Sure to cast on a multiple of 8.
    Then, when you reach the Shaping the Top portion of the pattern where it says:

    Next Round: *K23, place marker, repeat from * to end of round.

    Rather than K23, make sure to take your Cast On number and divide it by 8. Knit that number and place a marker…

    I would make sure not to decrease so many times that the cowl cannot fit over your head… The circumference at the top is 17 inches. I would not go much smaller than that. In other words, if you have to eliminate the last or last couple decrease rounds, I would.

    Please let me know if you have any questions as you go!

  6. Kathy says:


    I'm 2 sections into my cowl and I absolutely love it!! It's fun working with this yarn. I was wondering if you could tell me the best way to block this piece. It has such great texture and I don't want to loose that look but I do think it needs blocking. Thanks for your help.


  7. Laura C says:

    Hi Laura,
    Is there way to alter the pattern to be an eternity cowl? I'm making one for myself but would like to make one for my daughter as well. She is ALL about eternity cowls!
    Thanks so much for the pattern,

  8. Laura C says:

    Laura, LOVING this pattern and the yarn!!! Have you made an open version, like an infinity cowl or scarf version?
    My daughter is only 10, but I'd like to make one for her-she's all about infinity cowls that drape…
    thanks, Laura

    PS I always rely on Purl Bee for fun and greatlooking patterns

  9. purl bee says:

    Hi Kathy.
    Great question. The Silken Straw does really well when blocked. It softens up and take on a whole new feel. I would recommend laying in flat and spritzing the cowl all over, but perhaps more heavily at the silk stripes. Once damp, gently tug at the cowl from the top and bottom and then from the sides.

    You might want to do this a few times. I believe I only blocked it once. The silk will definitely soften with time and wear too.

  10. purl bee says:

    Laura C,

    Thank you so much for the kind words. I am thrilled to hear you are enjoying the project. I have not made this in a long, loop-able cowl style, but it sounds like a great idea.

    Have you thought about maybe taking the idea of the cowl and knitting it flat, back and forth, like a scarf and then just grafting the ends together once you are happy with the length.

    Let me know how it goes!

  11. purl bee says:

    Hello Laura C.
    Yes, there is a way. I would take the gauge per inch and desired length in inches, multiply the two together and cast on that number. I would not work the shaping portion of the cowl, but rather just work evenly, as in the first portion of the pattern.

    Just for reference, here are the lengths of our infinity cowls:
    - Big Herringbone Cowl is 58 inches in circumference
    - Striped Cotton Cowl is 60 inches in circumference
    - Gina's Brioche Cowl is 56 inches in circumference
    - Fluted Cowl is 60 inches in circumference

    Using those as a guide I think you'd cast on somewhere between 448 and 480 stitches.

    Hope y'all enjoy your cowls!

  12. Val Hall says:

    Thank you so very much for the email notification of the yarn back in stock. I am placing my order but now you are out of the needles…US#4 16" circular(addi lace). You do have #5, would that work, as I tend to knit extremely tight or could I go #4 with 24" needles. I have not knitted with the addi lace and would like to try them.


  13. purl bee says:

    Hi Val-

    Since you are a tight knitter it sounds like the size 5 will work even better than a size 4. Needle sizes are always just suggestions to get the proper gauge. You can use whatever size needle works for you to get the right gauge.

    For instance, I am a loose knitter so I always go down a needle size (or two!)

    Thanks so much for your question and good luck on the project!


  14. Bessie says:

    Like to order.

  15. purl bee says:

    Hi Bessie-

    To order this kit please click on the link in the Materials section or I've pasted the link below as well too:

    If you have any questions about ordering please email customerservice AT purlsoho DOT com.

    Thank you!


  16. Val says:

    Hi Molly,

    I just wanted to thank you for contacting me that the materials were back in stock. I ordered mine and it just arrived. The yarn is even more beautiful in person. I so look forward to getting started but first I am knitting your ribbed cowl with the Jade Sapphire Zageo 6-ply Cashmere in the new Primordial. It too is even more gorgeous than the photo. I have to tell you Purl has the best yarn I have found anywhere. I am so happy I found your website.

    Thank You,

  17. purl bee says:

    Hi Val-

    Thanks so much, it's our pleasure!


  18. Katie says:

    Hi Laura!

    This is so incredibly beautiful! I was immediately drawn to it when I stumbled across it on ravelry. I just finished blocking my first rendition (with plans to make 2 more)! This cowl has spoken to me on many levels – the bumpiness of the cotton and the contrasting smoothness of the silk keep reminding me of the journey of life – the hills and valleys, the bumps and the smooth pieces. The striking combination of the two really speak to how it's the intertwining of both that make life so beautiful. This piece is very inspiring.

    I'm hoping you can help me figure out how I can achieve the correct circumference at the top of the piece. I'm on gauge – 8 stitches to the inch in the silken straw at both ends, but for some reason, the top circumference is around 20" instead of 17" – even after blocking. Any suggestions? Thank you!!!

  19. purl bee says:

    Hi Katie.
    Thank you for the kind words.

    Did you do the decreases as specified?
    I am not sure what happened for the top circumference to measure at 20 inches. If you can provide any more details, I'd love to try and help figure it out.

  20. Jean says:

    Hello, In your opinion, how would colors with more contrast look? For example, slub in baby blue and silken straw in cambodia blue? Or do you think it looks better with both yarns in similar colors? Thanks.

  21. purl bee says:

    Hi Jean,
    I used similar colors because I wanted to highlight the textural differences between these two yarns. For me, that was the exploration I took with this project. Contrasting yarns would just be exploring something different. You'd be making stripes.

  22. Stacy says:

    I have a lot of the silken straw left over from making the felt ball necklaces. What remains weighed in at 46 grams and on the site it gives the weight of the skein at 40 grams. I made 10 necklases using it. Wondering if I would have enough of the skein left to make this beautiful cowl or if the project uses every bit of the skien. Thanks!

  23. purl bee says:

    Hi Stacy.
    You will definitely have enough silk. The cowl requires far from an entire skein. I love that you're making so many of my projects. Thanks for writing in and please let us know if you have any other questions.

  24. Karen says:

    I would love to knit this project, the textures are beautiful. Do you know when you will have the straw silk in stock? Alternatively could you suggest another tone on tone color way in both yarns.
    With gratitude,

  25. purl bee says:

    Hi Karen.
    Thank you so much for the interest in this pattern.
    If you would like to be alerted as to when the Silken Straw is back in stock, please email the following email address with the yarn and color and quantity you'd like:

    As for another colorway….
    Silken Straw in Morning Fog or Two Rock + Cotton Slub in Brown 46-3
    Silken Straw in Evening Pink + Cotton Slub in Powder 46-12
    Silken Straw in Harvest Moon or Temple Gold + Orange 46-1
    Silken Straw in Pale Blue Eyes + Cotton Slub in Baby Blue 46-14

    Hope this helps!

  26. Rachel says:

    Very beautiful cowl and am very excited to get started. Made my gauge swatch yesterday in the silken straw though and I'm getting much closer to the 6 stitches per inch on the #4 needles than the 8 specified in the pattern. Is it ok to just adjust the # of stitches down to my gauge (in a multiple of 8)? Or is there a need to go down to a smaller needle? Thanks!

  27. purl bee says:

    Hi Rachel.
    Yes! It is definitely ok to adjust things to make this pattern work for you. That's why we swatch!

    Rather than changing the cast on number though, I would go down in needle size to match my gauge. This cowl is already so drapey, I fear that if you knit it any looser (like getting 6 stitches to the inch), it'll lose what little structure it has.

    If you do decide to change the cast on number, yes, change it in multiples of 8 and be sure to adjust where you place your markers for decreasing so that you are decreasing 8 stitches spaced out evenly.
    Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks.

  28. Cindy says:

    I'm a fairly new knitter and am interested in doing this cowl project but noticed it's not listed in your beginner knits section. Do you think this would be too difficult for a beginner. I have completed two hats working in the round and I'm currently working on another of your cowl patterns. Thanks for your information!

  29. purl bee says:

    Hi Cindy,
    You can definitely do this project! It is not difficult. It's a wonderful project for anyone.
    Thanks for asking and I hope you enjoy it!

  30. Nicole says:

    I love this cowl!! Can you suggest a different slub yarn that comes in navy? I found a great navy silk, but the suggested yarn doesn't come in that color. Thanks!

  31. purl bee says:

    Hi Nicole.
    Sadly, I don't know of any other slub yarns that would work here. The navy silk sound beautiful though. Could you pair it with something like Alchemy's Haiku ( It comes in amazing shades of blue. Or Jade Sapphire's 2-Ply Cashmere (
    Please let me know if you have any questions even if they are about yarns we don't carry. I'm so curious what you'll pair your navy silk with.
    Thanks for writing in.

  32. esther says:

    Hi, Could you please recommend any other yarn combination I could use to get the same look. I absolutely love the scarf but silk is very expensive. Thank you!

  33. purl bee says:

    Hi Esther.
    I'd be delighted to suggest a few other yarns…

    For CC you could use:
    Louet's Euroflax – or maybe Koigu's KPM – or Habu's Cotton Gima (not quite the same look, but could be very cool and interesting) –

    The MC is $8.50 a skein and I don't believe we have any substitutions that would be less expensive. It has a very specific look and feel which is hard to match. If you wanted, you could use Purl Soho's Line Weight –

    If you have any questions about these yarns or any others you may come across… please feel free to write us back!
    Thanks for writing in.

  34. Leslie says:

    Hi, I thought I left a comment before but it is not showing up. I have had to order another skein of the cotton to finish my cowl. Any ideas why that would happen. It seems to be matching the gauge. Thanks!

    • Molly from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Leslie-

      I’m so sorry to hear that! Are you using a dyed color of the cotton? Because the dyed colors come in shorter skeins than the undyed the Laura used here. Let us know so we can try to get to the bottom of it!


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