Unlike scarves that are knit as one long rectangle, cowls are designed to form a tube that slides over your head. You can knit a cowl flat, but you'll need to take a few extra steps to make it into a tube. Use one of a few different ways to end the cowl, depending on your skill level, the design of the cowl, and your style preferences.
If you knit your cowl flat with straight needles, one way to end the cowl is to bind off the edge, then seam the cast-on edge to the bind-off edge. This leaves a ridge on the wrong side of the work, but the right side displays an invisible seam that blends with the other stitches.
- Line up the cast-on edge evenly with the bind-off edge.
- Insert a threaded yarn needle into the center of the first stitch on the bind-off edge from back to front.
- Insert the yarn needle through the first stitch on the cast-on edge, going through the V of the stitch from right to left.
- Insert the yarn needle into the center of the first stitch once more on the bind-off edge from front to back. Pull the yarn until the stitch is even in size with the rest of the stitches.
- Repeat steps 2 to 4 until you have worked your way across the entire edge. Cut the yarn and weave in the loose ends.
Seaming and Binding Off Simultaneously
If the idea of binding off, then seaming the ends together, seems daunting, you can complete both tasks at the same time.
- Line up the cast-on edge and the stitches left on your knitting needle.
- Insert the needle into the first live stitch; then insert it into the first stitch of your cast-on edge. Knit these two stitches together.
- Insert the needle into the second live stitch; then insert it into the second stitch of your cast-on edge. Knit these two stitches together.
- Lift the first stitch over the second stitch. Drop it from the needle as you would in a regular bind-off.
- Repeat these steps across the edge of the cowl until only one stitch remains. Cut the yarn; then pull it through the last stitch. Weave in the loose end.
If you have a long tail left after binding off, use it to seam the edges. This will save you from weaving in that loose end.
Knitting in the Round
To completely avoid seaming, knit the cowl in the round. Knitting in the round means that your cowl will form a complete, seamless circle. This is an ideal option for cowls with stranded color work, because knitting in the round means that there are no wrong side rows to knit. Plus, the finished piece is even with no interruption in the color-work design.
To knit the cowl in the round, use circular knitting needles. The length of the needle depends on the circumference of the cowl. If your cowl has a circumference of 26 inches, for example, then use a 24-inch long circular knitting needle.
Join the cowl to knit in the round, knit the body of the cowl, then bind off in the round. The only finishing you'll need to do is to weave in the loose ends.