The blog post before this one was a tutorial on some of the techniques used in the Electric Reversible Shaker Cowl. If you've been following us on Ravelry, Facebook or Twitter, you know that this cowl pattern was one of four new free cowl designs that we've released this month. We keep hearing that everyone is interested in cowls this season, and we're doing our best to satisfy your cowl needs! I thought this blog post would be a good place to explore the cowl phenomenon a little further. (LaurenO's Herringbone Cowl in Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend) What is it that makes cowls such an attractive knitting project? I can think of several reasons, both from the knitter's perspective and having to do with the finished project itself. In terms of knitting, a cowl project has a lot of great qualities. They can frequently be made with one skein of a favorite yarn and are easily portable in a small knitting bag. Structurally, cowls can be made either flat or in the round, and in their most basic forms consist of only the simplest techniques that a new knitter can easily master. On the other hand, the simple structure of a cowl means that more advanced or adventurous knitters can challenge themselves with intricate stitch patterns and other elaborate details! And if we're talking about details, lets not forget that cowls can be great vehicles for buttons and other notions. I've seen some lovely ones that involve ribbon detailing through knitted eyelets. (EmilyElizabeth's Adamaris cowl in Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend) Some of the reasons cowls make such nice knitting projects contribute to the reason they make such lovely accessories to wear, as well. Because they often require only a single skein of yarn, they're an ideal use for a skein of something special. Since you'll be wearing a cowl in such a way that it both touches sensitive skin and is visible near your face, a precious skein of soft and beautiful yarn finds a fitting home in this accessory. The two cowls linked above both use Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, which is a wonderful example of a yarn whose softness and sheen are perfect for both insulating your neck and setting off your features! But don't feel compelled to try Silk Blend for a cowl... any yarn that is soft and good quality will make a great one. (thestitchwench's Gladiator Cowl in 2 colors of Manos del Uruguay Maxima) The other reason I love cowls as an insulating accessory is that they look fabulous. Usually by February, I feel pretty sick and tired of bundling up into winter outerwear! A stylish cowl, however, is a lot less cumbersome than a full-size scarf, even though it's just as warm. A big, roomy cowl (or a snood) can even replace both a scarf and a hat if the weather isn't too severe. Having an attractive cowl in a lovely yarn helps me feel like bad weather isn't keeping me from looking good! Even if I'm resigned to a winter coat for several more weeks, at least I can dress it up with a trendy accessory. If you're feeling weary of bundling in hats and scarves this winter, maybe it's a good time to try knitting a cowl?