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Cowl Girls

Warmth for Your Neck

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Cowl Girls

Cowl Girls by Cathy Carron.

Sixth & Spring Books.

Most new knitters start out knitting scarves, but there are so many other ways to adorn and warm your neck, as Cathy Carron vividly illustrates in her book Cowl Girls: The Neck's Best Thing to Knit. The book includes a whopping 41 patterns for cowls, gaiters, infinity scarves, necklaces and other warm or simply decorative items to wrap around your neck.

Many of the patterns use bulky or super-bulky yarn, meaning that you can knit them up in a flash to keep your own neck warm or for a great one-size-fits-all gift.

Coming to Terms with Cowls

Carron opens the book noting that there are a lot of different words used to describe a lot of neck coverings that are similar, and she does a good job of explaining the subtle differences between such objects as:

  • cowls
  • gaiters
  • dickeys
  • snoods
  • balaclavas
  • infinity scarves
  • doughtnuts
  • necklaces

There are examples of all of these styles in the 41 patterns offered in Cowl Girls, but it's fine if you call them all cowls if you like.

The Patterns

Most of the patterns -- like patterns for scarves -- are relatively straightforward, with the same yarn or yarns and stitch pattern used throughout. Some of the projects change yarn and/or stitch pattern in the middle, but for the majority of the designs, once you get the stitch pattern down you just keep knitting until the project is the size you're going for.

Many of the projects are knit in bulky or super-bulky yarn, meaning that even the large projects can be finished very quickly. These are great last-minute gift projects, but they're so dramatic and interesting that they don't feel last-minute.

There are a few more difficult patterns in Cowl Girls, such as a gaiter using stranded knitting techniques and eight different colors of yarn and a cowl worked in three pieces with three different traditional Aran patterns that are braided together to make the finished project.

There are a lot of interesting projects here that are sure to turn heads, but some of my favorites are Honeycomb, a two-color cowl worked in Bee Stitch; Wrapture, a super-bulky cropped poncho with a turtleneck collar; the basic but beautiful ribbed Polo Match cowl worked in a gorgeous cashmere/silk blend and accented with a hand-beaded flower; the double-layered cabled Haute Cowl-Ture; the lovely In the Snood, featuring a multicolored yarn and a simple eyelet pattern; and the clever and dramatic Net Assets, which starts with a mesh base that's woven with I-cord.

Bottom Line

Knitters who are already fans of the cowl concept are sure to enjoy Cathy Carron's Cowl Girls, and those who haven't jumped on the balaclava bandwagon will likely become converts to the cowl cause after a quick flip through this book.

There are projects here to fit just about every style (and climate, with a couple of linen and cotton projects as well as necklaces and collars that can be worn in warm weather) and skill level, things that are perfect gifts and ones you're sure to want to make for yourself. These are projects that make a statement, often without a lot of effort or knitting time, that you'll get a lot of use out of in the cold season (and beyond, in some cases).

Publication date: October 2010

Publisher's website

Projects on Ravelry

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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