Free Knitting Patterns: Sugar Plum Cowl

sugarplummainThis easy one-skein worsted weight cowl is a great beginner project or some easy ‘tv knitting’ for an experienced knitter. Worked in the round, there is no increasing or decreasing, just a simple 2 x 2 ribbing on each edge and some easy stockinette stitch. The skills required include knitting in the round, working the knit stitch, the purl stitch, and casting on and binding off.

This is a great project for those single skeins of pricey yarn we all buy but don’t have a particular project in mind. And if you have a skein of hand-dyed or tonal or variegated yarn, the plain stockinette will show it off beautifully.

Sugar Plum Cowl

My sample weighs in at 92 grams and uses 184 yards [168 m] of Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage. (Your yarn usage, even with the same yarn, will be slightly different. Always check your gauge.) If you are choosing a different yarn, any worsted weight yarn will work and a 100 gram/200-ish yard [182 m] skein is what you will need. Many of the popular worsted weight yarns come in 200, 210, or 220 yard skeins per 100 grams. That’s what you need. And this is a pattern that will show off a tonal or variegated yarn very well. The plain stockinette stitch allows the yarn colour to shine!

Sugar Plum Cowl Ribbing

This cowl is worked in the round. Always check that your cast-on stitches are not twisted before you join and begin knitting. The 2 x 2 ribbing is worked this way: *K2, p2; rep from * to the end of the round. Work the ribbing somewhat tightly to get a nice finished look. I always pull my yarn tight after the knit stitch and before the first purl stitch. This keeps gaps from forming between the ribs and makes the ribbing look tight and neat instead of loose and sloppy. Then, to work the stockinette section in the round, simply knit every stitch.

Sugar Plum Cowl Draped

When casting off, you will cast off ‘in pattern.’ This means knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches while working the cast-off. This adds elasticity to the ribbing and matches the cast-on edge. Work the cast-off loosely. If this is difficult, use a needle one or two sizes larger.

Of course, this pattern is modifiable. To make a longer cowl, that maybe hangs lower or even wraps twice around the neck, you will need more than one skein of yarn. Cast on more stitches than called for in the pattern. You must cast on a total number of stitches that divides by 4. This is because the k2, p2 ribbing is worked over 4 stitches. How many more stitches should you cast on for a longer cowl? Use the gauge measurement. The gauge is 18 stitches for every 4 inches. To add 4 more inches, you would need 18 more stitches for a total of 118. This number does not divide by 4, however, so add 2 more stitches for a total of 120 (or reduce by 2 stitches for a total of 116). To add 8 more inches, you would need 36 more stitches. That divides by 4. Perfect! For a cowl that wraps twice around the neck, I would suggest doubling the number of cast-on stitches to 200. If you do make a different size cowl, comment below and tell us how it worked out!

Sugar Plum Cowl Instructions


  • 1 skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage (100% superwash merino wool; 200 yd [182 m]/3.53 oz [100 g]). Shown here in Sugar Plum. Or, approximately 200 yards [182 m] of any worsted weight yarn.
  • US size 8 [5.0 mm] 16 inch [40 mm] circular needle, or size needed to obtain gauge.
  • 1 stitch marker.


  • 18 sts and 28 rows = 4 inches [10 cm] in Stockinette Stitch, worked in the round, after blocking.


  • Block to these measurements:  11 inches [28 cm] wide and 10.5 inches [26 cm] tall, laid flat. Cowl will shrink back a bit when dry.
  • Finished measurements: Approximately 10.5 inches [26 cm] wide and 10 inches [25 cm] tall, laid flat, after blocking. Circumference of cowl is approximately 22 inches [56 cm].

Stitch Guide

  • k2, p2 rib: *K2, p2; rep from * to end.


  • k – knit
  • p – purl
  • rnd(s) – round(s)
  • st(s) – stitch(es)


Cast on 100 sts. Place marker and join for knitting in the rnd, being careful not to twist the sts. Work k2, p2 rib until piece measures 1.5 inches [4 cm] from cast-on.

Knit until piece measures 8.5 inches [22 cm] from cast-on.

Work k2, p2 rib for 1.5 inches [4 cm].


Bind off loosely in pattern (knit the knit sts and purl the purl sts). Weave in all ends. Wash and block to blocked measurements as shown below.

Pattern by Michelle Krause.

Copyright 2015 by Leah Michelle Designs. Pattern and photos may not be sold for profit or distributed or reproduced without permission.

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