cowl countdown to christmas week 4: button up cowl


welcome to the final week, everyone!  i’ve had a lot of fun knitting from the hip, so to speak, for the last few weeks, and you have no idea how happy it has made me to get your comments and feedback.  to know that i’m in some way helping people realize the joy of knitting and handmade gifting (for yourself or others) is awesome–i told you, knitting is easy!  and so rewarding!  i foresee this becoming a tradition, and i’m already thinking up other series we can complete together in this space.  suggestions strongly encouraged!

so, for the final week, i wanted to do something super simple, an eleventh hour project that you can finish up right down to the christmas wire for either a lady or gentleman.   i was thinking about just doing a simple garter cowl knit in the round, no bells or whistles.  however, you may have noticed my affinity for buttons, and since we haven’t discussed buttonholes, i thought we might go over one last skill for good measure.  this is a totally straightforward, easy buttonhole that’s nice to have in your knitting arsenal.


  • 1 skein super bulky yarn
  • size 15, 16″ circular needles (we’re casting on the long side, so straight needles won’t work here)
  • 3 visible buttons, at least 1″ in diameter
  • 3 buttons that won’t be visible, at least 3/4″ in diameter
  • needle and thread to sew the buttons on
  • tapestry needle for weaving in loose ends


  • knit stitches
  • cast on
  • bind off
  • that’s it!

this cowl is worked in garter stitch, as in, knit every row.  nice!  the pattern is based on a gauge of 2 stitches/inch.

  1. cast on 52 stitches, knit every row until your piece measures 1.5″.  for aesthetic purposes, i like to slip the first stitch of each row purl wise on garter stitch projects.  it will give you a nice looking edge like this:DSC03408
  2. buttonhole row!  on your next row, k4, k2 together, yarn over, and knit the rest of the row.  that’s your buttonhole!
  3. continue to knit each row until your piece measures 2.5″ from the top of the previous buttonhole (4″ total), and make another buttonhole on the next row (k4, k2tog, yo), and knit to the end of the row.  make sure you’re making all your buttonholes on the same side!
  4. continue to knit each row until your piece measures 2.5″ from the top of the previous buttonhole (6.5″ total), and make another buttonhole on the next row (k4, k2tog, yo), and knit to the end of the row.
  5. continue to knit each row until the piece measures 8″ from top to bottom, an additional 1.5″ from the top of your third and final buttonhole.  bind off!  remember to knit your final two stitches together for a nice, neat corner on your bind off row.  and weave in your loose ends.  almost done!
  6. now for construction, which is very simple.  first, fold your cowl so that your buttonholes are about 1″ from the opposite edge of the cowl.  use the buttonholes as a guide of where to sew on your three visible buttons.  as you can see in the photo below, mine are sewn basically right on the edge of the cowl.
  7. at this point, i tried the cowl on, and it just didn’t sit right on my neck with the leftover fabric between the buttonholes and the edge.  to secure it better for a more attractive appearance, i sewed three additional buttons to the inside of the cowl on the buttonhole edge (the arrow indicates a buttonhole).  once you button your cowl through the buttonholes, you can wedge these invisible buttons through the garter stitch to secure that little flap.


and that’s a wrap!  actually, it’s a cowl.  i hope you’ve had as much fun as i have knitting your way down to christmas.  i will be back with various other projects as we close out december–i’m sure i’m not alone in a moderate frenzy to finish all the gifts by the 25th.  wishing everyone a lovely, restful holiday.

6 thoughts on “cowl countdown to christmas week 4: button up cowl

  1. Pingback: gift exchange | everything else we do

    • hi carolyn,
      it would be a little tricky to make on straight needles since the cast on is for the long vs. the short edge of the cowl. i think stitches would spill over the tip of the needle. have you tried using circular? they work just like straight needles in this case, but there is somewhere for the stitches to sit that don’t fit on the needle–there is no knitting in the round here. if you’d like to try straight needles, the size would still be 15.

      alternately, you could reverse the orientation of the cowl and cast on the short edge, which might fit on straight needles. try casting on 16 inches, working even for about 2″. you would make all the buttonholes in the same row, 1.5″ apart from each other, then continue working even until the piece measures 26″. this would give you the same dimensions for the cowl, but the garter ridges would run vertically instead of horizontally when worn. hope that makes sense?

  2. Can someone help me with the turn purl wise and knit wise. Am I just to purl and knit ? Am I trying to make this a harder turn than it is ??? PLEASE HELP ME .

    • hi melba,
      don’t panic! are you referring to the first stitch of the row, when the pattern says to slip the stitch purlwise? this just means you insert your right needle in the stitch as if to purl, but instead of actually purling/knitting the stitch, you just slip it onto the needle and continue knitting across. hope that helps.

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