Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where are All the Crochet Cowls?

....And by "cowls" I also mean crochet infinity scarves, eternity scarves, neck gaiters, smoke rings and snoods.* What all of these have in common is that they're warm tubes for the neck, and some can be worn as hoods, or wrapped around the shoulders like capelets, or extended down to warm the chest and back.
** Chainmaille Crochet Cowl IN PROGRESS **

These flattering neckwarmers are plenty practical because they stay wrapped around the neck effortlessly. You can't beat how their luxuriously soft and cozy look frames the face and shoulders, especially if they have a lot of loft or drape. This fashion trend started off big on last year's runways for both sexes and is still going strong.

Slathered Slip Stitches
It's as easy to knit your own cowl as it is to knit the traditional first project, a scarf; so it's easy to understand why cowls are a hot trend among hand knitters.

What about crocheters though? I wonder why it's not such a hot trend to crochet cowls? Crochet is perfect--fast, easy, soft and warm!

I have the brand-new Cowlgirls book of cowl designs by Cathy Carron, which are all knit. It pushed me over the edge (into blogging LOL). It's an inspiring book and I'm eyeing all my yarns and crochet stitches with new cowls, infinity scarves, eternity scarves, gaiters, wimples, smoke rings and "snoods" in mind.

Is it my imagination? Am I missing a 'Crochet the New Cowls!' book or pattern booklet on the market? When patterns for knit cowls are offered, I almost never see crochet options also.** Why not the same sense of excitement about all the crochet cowl design possibilities?
Mr. Stretchy (a Slip Stitch Tube) as "gaiter"

OK, so crochet cowl patterns do exist. I did a search in Ravelry and turned up 290 results. That's a lot! For some perspective, when I searched for knit cowl patterns....2135 results. Wow. Well, crocheters are off to a good start.

Mr. Stretchy as a more relaxed cowl; also works as a hood
I'm tempted to start a blog just for cowl crocheters. Here are a few notables: Check out Robyn Chachula's Tusculum! Amy Houck's superfine yak fiber Cosmopolitan Cowl. And OMG, Danielle Kassner's Cloister Cowl!
My own slip stitch "Mr. Stretchy" is available as a downloadable PDF crochet pattern at my website, and coming soon to my Ravelry Store. The others pictured here (Chainmaille, Slathered, Pallas) are being written. I think Pallas will stay a traditional long scarf with an "infinity scarf" option in the pattern.

(I know that a lot of people probably want a super fast, easy, and free crochet cowl pattern option so try this one or Melissa Mall's or this one.)

Pallas Scarf as an "infinity scarf" experiment
I found a very new Flickr Group for crochet cowls. There's a Ravelry forum "Cowls" that includes crochet, has almost 3700 members, and has very helpful information. For example, someone who has made many cowls recommends a 26-inch or so circumference and minimum of about 18 inches in height if you wish to comfortably have the option of wearing it as a hood.

*It seems that as of last year, "snood," which historically has been a hairnet--like a bag to hold long hair at the back of the head--now also means what I normally would use the term "cowl" or "wimple" for. Do a Google search for "snood" images to see what I mean.

**Funny coincidence, right after I posted this entry, I received the latest Caron Connections newsletter and it features two new crocheted cowls and a knitted one!