Structured Alpaca Cowl in Purl Soho’s New Alpaca Pure!

Purl Soho's newest yarn, Alpaca Pure, is wonderfully suited for contrasts and warmth! This elegantly plied yarn is as articulate in a textured rib as it is in smooth stockinette stitch. And in 100% of the softest and coziest alpaca fiber we've ever felt, this worsted weight yarn creates the very fabric you dream about in the bitterest depths of winter.


Our Structured Alpaca Cowl was inspired by the versatility of Alpaca Pure, its subtle sheen and sumptuous loft. A twisted rib pattern stands tall to protect the back of the neck, while a stockinette front gently drapes below the chin, framing the wearer's face and fortifying against the cold. Quick and simple to knit, gorgeous to wear, it's the ultimate last minute gift!


Our Alpaca Pure collection comes in our classic palette of neutrals and blues with pops of our favorite wildflower brights. Enjoy this quick-knitting beauty, so perfect for holiday crafting and giving! -Laura




4 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch


Finished Circumference at top: 17 inches

Finished Circumference at bottom: 21 inches

Finished Height: 18 inches


sssk [slip slip slip knit]: Slip three stitches purlwise one at a time, insert left needle into front of three slipped stitches, knit together.

k3tog [knit 3 together]: Insert right needle into the next three stitches, knit together.


Begin with Front Ribbed Flap

Cast on 47 stitches

Row 1 (wrong side): (P1 tbl, k1) to last stitch, p1 tbl.

Row 2: (K1 tbl, p1) to last stitch, k1 tbl.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until piece measures 3 inches.

Repeat Row 1.

Prepare to Work in the Round

Next Row (right side): (K1 tbl, p1) two times, place marker (pm), k39, pm, (p1, k1 tbl) two times, turn work and with wrong side facing, cable cast on 59 stitches. [106 stitches]

Turn work and with right side facing, join for working in the round being careful to not twist the stitches.

(K1 tbl, p1) two times.

NOTE: From this point forward, treat the first marker as the beginning-of-round marker.

Work the Cowl

Round 1: Knit to next marker, (p1, k1 tbl) to last stitch, p1.

Rounds 2 and 3: Repeat Round 1.

Round 4 (Decrease Round): Make 1 left (m1L), knit to next marker, make 1 right (m1R), slip marker, p1, k1 tbl, p1, sssk (see Pattern Notes, above), (p1, k1 tbl) to last 6 stitches, k3tog (see Pattern Notes, above), p1, k1 tbl, p1. (2 stitches decreased)

Rounds 5-8: Repeat Round 1.

Repeat Rounds 1-8 ten more times. [84 stitches]


Bind off loosely in pattern.


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37 Responses to Structured Alpaca Cowl in Purl Soho’s New Alpaca Pure!

  1. Martha says:

    Is this pattern unisex do you think?

  2. purl bee says:

    Hi Martha.
    In terms of fitting, yes, it will fit over an average sized man's head. In terms of style, sure!

  3. mimma says:

    Simply wonderful and so chic! Thank you very much.

  4. Jennie says:

    Would this pattern also work with your Worsted Twist yarn?


  5. Amore Di Za says:

    Molto particolare il modello e bello il colore! Paola – Italy

  6. britt says:

    i really like that cowl but i am not certain about that dickie like portion.

  7. purl bee says:

    Hi Jennie,
    YES, this would work beautifully with Worsted Twist!
    Thanks for asking.

  8. jen says:

    i only hope i live to 150 years old because otherwise i will never get to knit all the cool stuff you folks come up with!

  9. Jennifer says:

    I love this pattern but had already bought super soft merino to use for the gaiter cowl. Would that be too thick to use for this pattern? If not, how would I adapt?

  10. Linda L. says:

    Would there be enough wool in two skeins to lengthen the front flap to 6-8 inches? It's for a coat that has an open "V" in the front. The first button is about 5 or 6 inches below the collarbone so there's quite a gap. It looks like the pattern could be easily adapted by just adding rows until it was long enough but I don't want to run out of wool at the top. I suppose. if worst came to worst, I could always leave off a couple of rounds at the end.

  11. Jen says:

    I would like to make this for my teenage daughters but I am not sure they would like front ridged flap. Could you tell me how to start without that flap? I love the pattern and yarn. Beautiful!

  12. Ravenna says:

    I dislike working with circular needles and would prefer to use double-pointed — is there any reason that is a problem with this pattern (- and others in general)?
    Thank you.

  13. purl bee says:

    Hi Ravenna-

    If that's what you prefer it would totally work! In general people find circular needles more convenient but if that's not the case for you you can almost always use double points instead.

    Thanks for your question!


  14. purl bee says:

    Hi Jennifer.
    The Super Soft Merino will be too thick for this pattern. You could substitute Purl Soho's Worsted Twist if you have any of that laying around. Or any other worsted weight yarn.

    As for adjustments, unfortunately we do not have the resources to scale this pattern for a different gauge at this time. But, here is a good way to figure it out… If you swatch for both a twisted rib as well as stockinette you can take those two gauges to figure out the circumference of the bottom. You'll want approximately 10 1/2 inches in ribbing and 10 1/2 inches in stockinette.

    Take the number of stitches in stockinette and add 8. This will be your cast on number.

    Hope this helps.
    Please let me know if you have any other questions along the way.

  15. purl bee says:

    Hi Linda L.
    Great question. You should be able to get 6 inches, but I think if you do an 8-inch flap, you'll need to dip into a third skein. I would hate for you to run out of yarn before doing all the decreases at the top. Although subtle, the shaping really helps the cowl stand up and prevents it from just being a slouchy necklace.

    I am going to re-weight the cowl today to double check about the possibility of the 6-inch flap and will comment back here later today!

  16. purl bee says:

    Hi Jen,
    I'm so glad you like the cowl. To make it without the flap…
    Cast on 106 stitches.
    Place a beginning-of-round marker and join for working in the round.
    Next Round: K39, place marker, (p1, k1 tbl) to last stitch, p1.
    Then follow the pattern above from the section titled WORK THE COWL.
    Hope your daughter loves it.

  17. Laura says:

    Oh its just dreamy! Could you ladies provide other sources of yarn that would work. I am unable to wear Alpaca round the neck but sometimes a mix of merino/alpaca is ok. I am so stash busting for this one. Oh and a lot of my stash comes from you guys. Great pattern…….I seriously could only do 10 or so Bandana cowls.

  18. purl bee says:

    Hi Laura,
    This cowl would be just stunning in Purl Soho's Worsted Twist. It has the same gauge as Alpaca Pure, but is a bit lighter and loftier.
    Another nice option would be Jade Sapphire's 8-Ply Cashmere:
    Or Blue Sky's Worsted (50% alpaca):
    Or Cascade's Eco Cloud:
    And here is a link to all of our Worsted Weight Yarns:
    Hope this helps. Let us know if you have questions about any of these!

  19. purl bee says:

    Linda L.
    I was wrong. The cowl weighs just under 200 grams which means I used every last inch of yarn for this project. I would grab a 3rd skein to do an extended front flap.
    Thanks for writing in.

  20. Linda L. says:

    Thanks, Laura.
    I was thinking of getting the third skein anyway just to be safe. I can always do a headband or use it for another project.
    I never thought of weighing the finished article. That's a great way to know if you have enough "stash yarn" to repeat a project.

  21. Eduardo Lif says:

    Next Row (right side): (K1 tbl, p1) two times, place marker (pm), k39, pm, (p1, k1 tbl) two times, turn work and with wrong side facing, cable cast on 59 stitches. [106 stitches]

    Hi, I didnt understand what does it mean "cable cast on 59 stitches"….

  22. Margaret says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial. It was a great inspiration for a kid sized cowl I made for my nephew for Christmas. He absolutely loves it and I love it cause the ribbing helps the back stand tall keeping out the cold & snow.

  23. purl bee says:

    Hi Eduardo,
    The cable cast on method allows you to cast on stitches in the middle of a row or round. For a tutorial… please click here:
    Please let us know if you have any other questions.

  24. Sara says:

    Hi Laura, this is a lovely pattern, thank you for sharing it! Can I ask if it's possible to follow with a standard rib, ie, making all stitches through the front loop rather than the back? I'm a relatively new knitter and find it difficult to swap between the two. What's the advantage of going through the back? Many thanks, Sara x

  25. purl bee says:

    Hi Sara,
    Knitting through the back loop is a way to add a bit more texture and density to the knit stitch. It also causes a much deeper and more defined rib. It does affect the gauge of the fabric as well, so if you decide to do a standard rib, be sure to swatch first to see if you will need to change your needles.

  26. Dorothy says:

    If you slip all those stitches purlwise, isn't the result of your sssk the same as k3tog tbl?

    Usually ssk means slip stitches one at a time knitwise. I've adopted the tweak made popular by Brooklyn Tweed of slipping the first knitwise and the second purlwise. I don't know how that translates to an sssk though.

    Thanks for the pattern, I have some perfect yarn for it!

  27. purl bee says:

    Hi Dorothy,
    Great question. And great catch. The two decreases (sssk and k3tog tbl) described in the Pattern Notes portion of this pattern result in similar-looking decreases.

    The Pattern Notes should NOT include k3tog tbl at all. In the pattern, you are actually instructed to k3tog not k3tog tbl. I will remedy this now. Thank you so much for bringing this up.

  28. Sherry Bonner says:

    I love this pattern and bought the two skeins of the recommended wool, but ran out of wool before I had finished. I am a relatively novice knitter and confess to not doing a guage swatch before beginning. So, I suppose my stitch is just too loose? It turned out well, but is a bit too slouchy because I couldn't do all the decreases to the top. I was in the seventh round of ten when I ran out. Good lesson to me to keep an eye on the yarn and not just leave it in my knitting bag too! The wool is fabulous and soft; I think I may make another one to try to get it right.

  29. purl bee says:

    Hi Sherry,
    Thanks for writing in and sharing your experience with this pattern. I did use every last inch of the two skeins and will be sure to make a note of that in the pattern.

  30. miss emma says:

    Sending this my boyfriend's way–he's been designing knitted cowls to wear with his motorcycle and I bet he will love this one! Thanks for the free pattern.

  31. Margie says:

    If you have any suggestions on making this cowl with both a front and back flap, I would love it. Cold windy weather slips down the back collar and makes neck and shoulders cold. A back flap would be a great addition.

  32. purl bee says:

    You are speaking my language. I love that idea. It makes it like a two-sided dickie. To do this… I would cast on 59 stitches and work the following two rows (they are similar to the back flap, but essentially, if looking at the RS, you need it to go purl-knit-purl, rather than knit-purl-knit in order to not disrupt the pattern later):
    Row 1 (wrong side): K1, (P1 tbl, k1) to last stitch.
    Row 2: p1, (K1 tbl, p1) to last stitch.
    Once the flap is the length you would like, put it to the side, either on a spare needle or scrap yarn. Then cast on normally for the project and work it as instructed. You'll get to the following line of instructions:
    Next Row (right side): (K1 tbl, p1) two times, place marker (pm), k39, pm, (p1, k1 tbl) two times, turn work and with wrong side facing, cable cast on 59 stitches. [106 stitches]
    BUT, you will not have to do the cable cast on, simple work across the first flap you made.
    I hope this makes sense. Please let me know if you have any more questions AND let us know how it turns out!

  33. Shannon says:

    I was wondering if you recommend a selvedge for the bib of the cowl, and if so, what type? Also, what is the best way to do the step "cable cast on 59 stitches" if a selvedge is added?

  34. purl bee says:

    Hi Shannon.
    Thanks for writing in. I am not completely clear on what you mean by selvedge here. The pattern above includes instructions on how to create the cowl I made, pictured here. I did not do anything additional to the edges at the front of the cowl. I didn't find it necessary. Were you wondering if I treated the edge stitches differently than is instructed in the pattern?
    I would love to answer this question better or more fully if I haven't answered your question.
    Please feel free to write us back if you'd like!

  35. Hi
    This knitted up like a dream. So soft and feminine. I decided to de-structure it and simply decrease 2 stitches every four rows. The little bib in front adds warmth. I used a blush color purl soho pure alpaca.You can see the picture on my blog.

  36. sofia says:

    This is such a beautiful pattern and i can’t wait to start knitting it. I absolutely love Alpaca and your patterns are stunning. i am however, a bit of a novice and don’t know what tbl means…can someone please tell me? Thanks so much!

    • Molly from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Sofia-

      It means “through back loop.” So instead of inserting your right needle into the front of the loop on your left needle, you insert it into the back of the loop.

      Hope this helps!


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