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« Corinne's Thread: Vintage Tea Towels | Main | Whit's Knits: Woven Scarf »

Laura's Loop: Salt and Pepper Cowl

At Purl Soho we have a customer who, no matter the season, breezes into the store draped in the most meticulously combined textures layered to perfection and always, I mean always, in neutrals from head to toe. She makes one color feel like a rainbow with her play of hues and shades, textures and cuts. This woman, she can really wear gray.
This lovely fashionista was on my mind when I coupled this dynamic duo of yarns. One, Habu’s Viscose Sizing, a crisp, stark white ribbon wrapped in a delicate black thread. The other, Alchemy’s Haiku, a gorgeous hand-dyed silk and mohair blend with a downy glow.
As with our customer’s ensembles, the Salt and Pepper Cowl is an in-depth exploration of tactility and versatility. The ends are ribbed pulling both yarns, contrasting with the nearly weightless body of the cowl, which is knit in a smooth single row stripe. A slit at one end can be worn at the top, folded over like a collar. Or flip the cowl over and wear the slit draping over a shoulder for some extra length, drama and jaunty asymmetry.
Thank you, chic, beautiful customer of ours, for the inspiration. You’re one of so many who exhilarate our senses every day! --Laura

The Materials

Get all of the yarn you need with our Salt and Pepper Cowl kit. You can find it right here! It includes...

  • Yarn A: 1 skein of Alchemy’s Haiku, 60% kid mohair and 40% silk, in the color Silver.
  • Yarn B: 1 skein of Habu’s Viscose Sizing, 100% rayon, in the color N-35.

You will also need: 

The Pattern


8 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch using Yarn B

Finished Dimensions

22 inches in circumference by 17 inches long

Pattern Notes

A large portion of this cowl is constructed by working single row stripes in the round. If you are unfamiliar with this technique, please visit our tutorial by clicking here.

Begin with Ribbing

With Yarn A, cast on 188 stitches.
Place marker and join for working in the round being careful not to twist stitches. 
Holding both Yarn A and Yarn B together, *k2, p2, repeat from * to end of round.
Continue working in a 2 x 2 rib until piece measures 3 inches from cast on edge.
Still holding both Yarn A and B together, knit.
Continue knitting each round until piece measures 3 1/2 inches.


Continue with Stripes

Round 1: With Yarn A, knit.
Round 2: With Yarn B, knit.
Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until piece measures 13 1/2 inches from cast on edge, ending with Round 2.
Next Round: With Yarn A, k2tog, knit to last two stitches, ssk. (186 stitches).


Working with Both Yarns Again

Holding both Yarn A and Yarn B together, knit to end of round.
Continue knitting each round until piece measures 14 inches.
Next Round: *K2, p2, repeat to last two stitches, k2.
NOTE: You will now be working back and forth in rows rather than in the round. You will turn the work at the end of each row.
Row 1 (wrong side): Slip 1 purlwise, p1, *k2, p2, repeat from * to end of row.
Row 2 (right side): Slip 1 purlwise, k1, *p2, k2, repeat from * to end of row.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until piece measures 17 inches from cast on edge.
Repeat Row 1.
Cut Yarn B. 
With Yarn A, loosely bind off in pattern.
Weave in your ends and block gently.

Reader Comments (18)

Wow... I love this item. I thought that it was one yarn, but the mix of the two you selected makes it so much better. Thank you for this pattern. And thank you for making it available free.
May 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpamsie
Beautiful. When will you have the sizing back in stock in this color?
May 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStevi
May 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdebbie
May 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjuststitchy
I love this cowl - it is very elegant!!!
May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGayle
I ordered the yarn about 2 minutes after I saw it. Lucky me ; it is here In Wyoming with me !!
I am trying ever so hard not to start knitting it. Knowing that neither one will be fun to wind is keeping me on the good path
May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKate
Hi! Any suggestions for yarn substitutions that might be available sooner and a little more economical?

Looks like a fantastic project to try!
May 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkelly
Hi Kelly.

The Habu Sizing is a fairly specific yarn in its characteristics. The closest thing I can think of would be Alchemy's Silken Straw. It is flat and ribbon like. It does not have the white and black look, but it is hand dyed so there is an interesting effect created with color.

As for a substitute for the Alchemy Haiku, we do not carry any other lace weight mohairs, but you can see our other lace weights here...[]=2
May 21, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Kelly,

There is a pretty significant yardage difference between these two yarns; Would there be enough of the Viscose to make two or three of these cowls?
May 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
Hi Amy,
Great question. You can get two cowls out of the viscose.
June 4, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

I waited to start knitting the project as I enjoyed so much simply looking at the parcel you sent me with the material. The yarn is really special.
This being said, I was wondering whether I could knit the entire scarf with the both yarns held together throughout the project. Would I have sufficient Alchemy yarn?

Thank you.

Cecile from Belgium
July 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCecile
Hi Cecile,
We love hearing of people's excitement about projects, thanks for writing in.

I am afraid you will not have enough of the Alchemy to hold it together with the Viscos for the entirety of the cowl.
July 8, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

I was wondering if you've heard of anyone making this on Light Fingering/3 ply yarn with any success? Would you suggest going up to a size 3 needle for that?

Thanks for the lovely pattern!

-K. from North Carolina
August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterK. Wray
Hi K. from North Carolina.
I haven't seen it done yet, but it sounds lovely. A few comments... the Viscos and Haiku are nearly weightless which keeps the piece from slouching too much. If you use a heavy fiber (alpac)a maybe use a smaller needle than you normally would resulting with some stiffness which will give structure keeping the cowl from becoming a drappy necklace.

Whatever you choose to do, definitely swatch first to determine how many stitches to the inch you are getting. Take that number and multiply by 22 inches, the circumference. Make sure to cast on a number that is a multiple of 4.

Let us know how it goes.
Thanks for writing in,
August 16, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
This looks so lovely!! I can see that it's the yarn that really makes it - I can almost feel how soft & drapey it is just from the photo!
October 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi
This is so beautifully quintessential "LAURA"... You inspire me! Julie
October 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
I am allergic to Mohair...any suggested substitutions?
October 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret Lutzke
Hi Margaret.
I would use either Jade Sapphire's 2-Ply Cashmere or our newest yarn, Line Weight, or Swan's Island's Lace Weight or Anzula's Wash My Lace (links to both below).

Also, here is a link to all the Lace Weight yarns we carry. Many of these would work.[]=2

Let me know if you have any questions!
October 31, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

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