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« Laura's Loop: Garden Party Napkins | Main | Amy Gropp Forbes of Eclectic Mom: Inkodye! »

Laura's Loop: 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

The Materials

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...

The Pattern


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

Finished Size

Circumference at the Top: 17-inches
Circumference at the Bottom: 23-inches
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. 

Beginning 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. 

Shaping 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)

Finishing 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!

Reader Comments (96)

Wow! You are on fire lately! I want to make everything you've posted these past few months, and indeed, I've got the everyday linen sweater on circular needles on my lap right now. Another one for my queue. Thanks!
July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElena
SO BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for creating this exquisite piece, and for sharing the pattern! And tell Page I said "hi!" Kellie in NJ
July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKellieK
So beautiful, could you make one for me? Despite many attempts I am the world's worst knitter :)
July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLana
This is a beautiful cowl and I am ready to begin it on my vacation! One quick question. In the body of the cowl, the overall pattern seems to be 12 MC rows, then 4 CC rows. In your directions, you write:
**With MC, knit 12 rounds.
Change to CC, knit 4 rounds.
Repeat from ** 9 more times.
With CC, knit 4 rounds.

The way I read it, this results in 8 CC rows. at the end before the "Shaping the Top" directions. Is this correct, or should there only be 4 CC rows before beginning the top section?

Thanks for your help and for the beautiful pattern!
July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnne
Hi Anne.
Thank you thank you thank you! You caught a typo!!! There should just be 4 rows of CC before the shaping. Thank you again. I will correct the pattern now! -Laura
July 31, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
This is my first visit to your blog. What a beautiful cowl!!!

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter505whimsygirl
This is so beautiful you inspired me to get out my spinning wheel and spin up some silk I have!!
August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
Is it possible to see a photo of the faux seam?
August 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
Hey Jessica. I will add a shot of the seam right now! -Laura
August 6, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi there,

This cowl is so cute! I am a little confused with these instructions:

Beginning 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.
(Note: As you continue, knit the first stitch of each row with both yarns held together.
Change to the Main Color (MC).)

In the note, it states to knit the first stitch of each row with both yarns held together, though the instructions prior only state to use the contrast color. Could you please clarify this for me? I am dying to start!

Thank you!
August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia
Hi Olivia. Sorry for the confusion.
You knit 6 rounds with the CC. Then you switch yarns to the MC, but on that very first stitch of the MC round, you knit both yarns together. You will knit the first stitch of all the following rounds with both yarns, until you get to the last 6 rounds in the CC.
Hope this helps. -Laura
August 7, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
It does! Thank you very much!!
August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia
I am confused with this as well. Say you're using the MC, when you approach the first stitch and incorporate the CC, do you cut that and weave the ends into either side of the seam?
August 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLee
This is stunning! Do you have any ideas for more affordable options for the yarn?
August 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpooja
Hi Lee. If you are knitting the first stitch of each round with both strands, then you won't have to cut the previous yarn. Knitting the first stitch of each round with both yarns will prevent you from having tons of ends to weave in because you'll be carrying the yarn up through the body of the cowl. Hope this helps -Laura
August 11, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Pooja, You can check out our other sport weight yarns, to replace the Silken Straw, right here:[]=4
And pair it with a lace weight yarn ([]=2 ) to replace the Habu cotton.
Glad you like the project. -Laura
August 11, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Laura - just wondering if the Anzula wash my lace would pair well with the silken straw - as it would be great to do this in a bright colour too. Would love your advice.
August 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLoopyb
Hi Loopyb- I just love Anzula. I think these yarns would pair up beautifully. The Wash My Lace is machine spun and very evenly, so you won't have quite the same movement as the Habu. It would still be lovely though. Let us know how it goes! -Laura
August 13, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
When will the original yarn color choices become available? My friend and I are anxious to create this - really like the neutraility of the original color choices.
August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPetra
Will you be getting platinum silken straw back in soon?
August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
Hi Petra. Hi Karen.
I am so sorry we are sold out of the yarn. As soon as it came in, it flew right out.

If you'd like to be added to the list to be notified about the yarn when it comes in please send an email to our customer service department at the link below, and include in it the name of the yarn and the color. They can also let you know how soon we will expect the yarn to arrive.

Thanks! -Laura
August 15, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I could just kick myself for not getting the straw yarn in platinum. Do you think the silver would work with the natural color?
August 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRene in DC
Hi Rene in DC.
I'm not totally sure. I think the silver might make the un-dyed cotton read yellow. I am not in the shop at the moment, but I will check on this and respond again on Tuesday.
August 19, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

I am newer to knitting and wish you would have stated in the directions about not cutting the yarn after the first CC (bottom roll edge) I didn't quite pick up on it until I was reading some reviews/posts after I already got past this point. No harm done as I didn't get too far and can fix it later. I understand now that you are cutting down on the number of strands to tuck in and creating a faux seam but didn't quit understand how to accomplish it until after I read some posts. Lesson learned: Read reviews and posts before beginning a project!

I am loving this project and very happy with the outcome. I do have one question . . . How do I keep the Habu on the cone from twisting???
August 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermolly
Hi Molly.
Thank you for your note. It is always helpful to hear how patterns can be improved! I am going to look at the pattern and make some adjustments for clarity sake. Again, I appreciate you taking the time to write in.

As for the Habu. The Habu we have at the shop ( comes in a the form of a ball so I didn't have the experience with the cone. Typically when yarn comes on a cone, but isn't gliding off easily, you can roll it into a ball with your hand or a ball winder (

Hope this helps.
August 22, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi there!

I am a few rows from completing this cowl! It's so beautiful! I am just curious as to which method of blocking you used for this project?

Thank you! And thank you for such a wonderful pattern!
August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia
Hi Olivia. Thank you so much for your kind words. Glad you like the pattern! To block this piece, I simply placed it flat on a towel and sprayed it with water. I sprayed the silk portions a bit more than the cotton because I felt it needed heavier blocking. Then I gently tugged on the fabric, first from top and bottom and then from the sides.
Again, thank you for writing in. Hope this helps and that you get a lot of wear out of your cowl!
August 29, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
You appear to be out of these yarns in the colors the pattern uses. Will you be getting more?
September 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEsther
Hi Esther-

We should be getting more in soon. If you'd like to be emailed when we get them back in stock please drop our webstore a line at customerservice AT purlsoho DOT com.

Thanks for your question!

September 17, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Laura,
The cowl is absolutely stunning!! As you are still out of the Silken Straw in Platinum, I was wondering if you think the Euroflax in Champagne or Cream would be a good substitute? Do you have any other suggestions for substituting the Platinum Silken Straw? I particularly love the colors you chose for the cowl.

Thanks so much for the beautiful pattern, Robyn
September 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn
Thank you for the kind words. I am glad you like the piece. I think the Euroflax in Champagne or Cream would be stunning. I love Euroflax. It softens up so much once blocked.
Also, there is this yarn by Blue Sky called Metalico that we just started carrying. It would be stunning:
Another option would be Wagtail's 4-ply Kid Mohair:
Hope this helps. Enjoy the project.
September 25, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I am going to make this for my mother too! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and beautiful work with us!
October 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjuststitchy
I wonder if you could make this in crochet? I suppose it would work with double crochets and singles, but I would love to see a crochet pattern of this. I am not a very good knitter.

Love your blog and articles that you make. They are so beautiful. I started the summer cowl two winters ago in wintery colors and I still haven't finished it but when I do it will be stunning because of your instructions.

Thank you Molly and Laura!
October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJana
Merci pour ce ravissant modèle , la nature des matériaux utilisé est splendide. Et j'aime les pensées que vous avez eues pour votre Maman. Moi qui en suis une sans doute dans ses âges, je ne peux que me le tricoter et je penserai à elle, car la description que vous en faites, j'ai eu la sensation que vous parliez de moi !!!
bon week-end.
October 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertoscane
To keep yarn from twisting as it unwinds from a cone: punch holes in opposite sides of a shoe box. Stick a knitting needle through one hole, then through the center of the cone, then through the second hole, and secure with a rubber band. The cone will spin around on the needle as the yarn is pulled off. I have a small basket with open weave sides and use it instead of the shoebox.
October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGail
I love this cowl! I would like to make 2 of them for gifts but am wondering how far the Silken Straw actually goes before I order 2 skeins (because of the $!) This really is beautiful!
October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebby
Hey Debby.
I am so glad you like the cowl! You definitely only need one skien on the Silken Straw.
Enjoy knitting them.
October 22, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Can you tell me, please, if you used the entire skein of Silken Straw knitting this elegant cowl? I bought a skein of the Silken Straw; used perhaps 1/5 of it to edge a shawl; and now I'd like to use the remainder to make this cowl. Yet I am unsure if I will have enough. With thanks.
October 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJane
So, do you mean one skein per cowl, or one skein will be enough for two cowls? Sorry to be so dense... Also, any idea when more of the silken straw will be available? Haven't received an answer from the email I sent to ask from the other page...
October 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebby
Hi again Debby,
I am so sorry for not being more clear.
You will only need one skein of the Silken Straw for two White Cap Cowls.
October 28, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Jane,
You will not use an entire skein of the Silken Straw in making a White Caps Cowl if you are using it as the contrast yarn and something else as the main yarn.
Hope this helps.
October 28, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Such a lovely project. I noticed that the "undyed" has 158 yards compared to the dyed colors' 108 per skein. Would I need to purchase 4 skeins of the dyed slub cotton to make this?

Thank you!
October 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
Hi Monica.
Yes, I would buy a 4th skein if you going to used a dyed color. Great question. I will make a note in the pattern so others can be as prepared as you.
November 1, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Which shade of Alchemy Silken Straw would go best with Habu Cotton Slub color Smoke for this project? I wish I could see them in person, but I am just too far away....
November 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjuststitchy
Hi JustStitchy,
I think that the color Pale Blue Eyes or maybe Silver for a bit less of a monochromatic look.
November 16, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Finished the cowl. Instructions say to block----wet block. Please be specific.
November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie
Hi Leslie-

Here is a link to our blocking tutorial, which shows our preferred method.

Thank you for your question!

November 18, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

I am wondering what color of Alchemy Silken Straw would go well with the Nerimaki Slub in grey?


November 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley
Hi Ashley,
I think either the Silver or the Fieldstone would work beautifully.
Thanks for writing in!
November 24, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Love this. Can you tell me if its normal that the silken straw is curling on me? Will blocking address this or am I knitting too tight ? (I do tend to knit tight)
December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

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