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Cowls and Circular Shawls to Weave

The 8 projects in this collection are circular, but they are much more than that.

Susan E. Horton Nov 21, 2022 - 4 min read

Cowls and Circular Shawls to Weave Primary Image

Left: Charlene Kolb’s Radiant Möbius shawl; top right: Eileen Lee’s Sunset Twist shawl; bottom right: Susan Porter’s Gumdrops and Blossoms cowl. Photos by Caleb Dane Young, Matt Graves, and Harper Point, respectively

I’m not really sure of the correct name for the eight scarves and shawls in this collection. Probably the most descriptive term is circular, and it’s part of the collection’s title, but that feels very technical and doesn’t do these beautiful pieces justice. That leaves me with cowl, Möbius, hood, and poncho.

From left to right, Sarah Jackson’s Biscuits and Jam Scarf, Andrea Williams’s Fibonacci with a Twist, and Sarah Jackson’s Turnabout Scarf. Photos left to right, by George Boe, Matt Graves, and Caleb Dane Young

For sure, there are five projects that I would call cowls: Sarah Jackson’s Biscuits and Jam Scarf and her Turnabout Scarf, Susan Porter’s Gumdrops and Blossoms scarves, Andrea Williams’s Fibonacci with a Twist scarf, and Deb Essen’s M’s and O’s Infinity Hood. Each cowl is designed to wrap twice around the neck with enough length for styling. All five are constructed similarly, without fringe, and with seams that are hidden and either stitched by hand or by machine. Andrea Williams gave her cowl a half-twist before seaming, which brings us to the next category, Möbius, a word I have to look up every time I use it to get the spelling right.

Technically the term is Möbius strip and refers to a one-sided surface created by joining a rectangle’s ends after rotating one of them 180 degrees. A Möbius strip has no beginning or end, and the sides and edges also have no beginning or end. Andrea’s cowl, Eileen Lee’s Sunset Twist, Charlene Kolb’s Radiant Möbius, and C.C. Earthly’s Möbius Shawl all fit that definition. The last three are shawl-sized, which means the twist adds to their comfort and wearability—i.e., keeping the shawl on your shoulders.

Deb Essen’s M’s and O’s Infinity Hood. Photo by George Boe

Although infinity is a term sometimes used to describe a Möbius strip, Deb Essen’s scarf doesn’t have a twist, but it does live up to its name in having a hood. You can wear Deb’s scarf wrapped or unwrapped around your neck, and your head will stay warm in the simply constructed hood.

C.C. Earthly’s Möbius Shawl. Photo by Harper Point

That leaves me with poncho. If I were to pick any of these to be called a poncho, I would pick Charlene’s or C.C.’s, but I lean toward C.C.’s. It’s a large piece that fits over the upper body and wraps the wearer in warmth. Plus it’s fringed, which pushes it even further into the poncho category in my book. C.C. wove it on a rigid-heddle loom, but it can also be woven on a 2- or 4-shaft loom.

The Cowls and Circular Shawls to Weave Collection includes four 4-shaft patterns and four 8-shaft patterns. The weave structures run the gamut from plain weave to twills, diversified plain weave, and M’s and O’s. WIFs for all of the projects in the collection can be found in the Handwoven Library.

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