Honey Cowl: Knitting to Keep Calm

Another fun and successful knitting project! This is the Honey Cowl – a great, simple, easy cowl pattern. (And it’s free! Click for a link to my Ravelry project notes for more on the pattern and yarn, plus more photos!)

The simple four-line pattern is easy to memorize – two of the rows are knit everything, so it’s really only two lines to remember. Great for travel knitting, knitting in front of the TV, or the kind of project where you start and stop a lot.

Do you remember what you were thinking while you make things? I’ll remember knitting this cowl to relax and calm down! I find knitting relaxing, and so whenever I’d get worked up about work, life, or anything else stressing me out, I’d sit down and knit until I felt better. Something about the clink-click of the metal needles, the tidy loops forming one after the other, calms my mind. It only works for an easy project, one where you don’t have to look at the pattern and can just knit until you feel better.

I highly recommend this pattern! It’s easy, it’s seamless, it makes a cosy loop that fits snugly around the neck. I cast on slightly less stitches by mistake but I’m glad, as it ended up fitting more snugly around the neck. It’s so cosy and warm!

Does anyone else knit to calm down? (Does anyone sew to calm down?) And do you ever look back at your finished sewing or knitting projects and remember what was happening in your life at the time?

Have an awesome weekend, everyone! It’s been an absolutely crazy week for me and I am looking forward to not working or rushing off anywhere. See you all on Monday after a hopefully relaxing and stress-free weekend!

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37 Responses to Honey Cowl: Knitting to Keep Calm

  1. karen October 28, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    Wow! My boyfriend’s sister is working on this very cowl as her first knitting project. It’s a great platform for beautiful wool.

  2. Tasha October 28, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    It looks great! I love the color. Looks really snuggly, too. Perfect for fall!

    I definitely don’t sew to relax. lol But I knit to relax all the time! Of course, it can backfire if you’re working on something complicated and make a mistake or suddenly have to stop to do a bunch of math, or something like that. Probably that’s part of the reason why I don’t find sewing calming and relaxing, because it’s so much up and down and sewing, then pressing, maybe cutting, reading an instruction (in my case sometimes going to the computer or a book to learn about something I don’t understand), etc. I don’t find it rhythmic, maybe that’s the difference! Whereas when you get into a rhythm with knitting, it’s awesome. :)

  3. Mary October 28, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    I absolutely knit or crochet to calm myself. Sometimes sewing can do the trick too, but it has to be a no brainer that I can’t screw up, or then the stress is compounded. Thanks for the recommendation for the Honey Cowl. I saw it on Pinterest and thought it might be a great project to take on our trip!

  4. Vicki Kate October 28, 2011 at 6:40 am #

    I find sewing calming! I think it’s the absolute concentration that is the secret, my mind can’t worry about anything else… I tend to knit to stop myself fidgeting – but I’m also very mood dependent when I knit, sometimes I want it to be automatic, like your cowl and sometimes I want it to be a challenge!

  5. Marie-Christine October 28, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    Snugly is good, cowls need to be not too long or you get drafts around your neck, not the idea at all. I totally agree with (easy) knitting for relaxation, but not sewing in general, unless it’s something like a hem by hand. I always knit while waiting for dentist appointments :-).

  6. Samina October 28, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    I find knitting very relaxing (unless I’m frogging something I fouled up!). That colorway is just gorgeous – I’ve got a hank of another Sanguine Gryphon yarn in my stash. I’ll have to dig it out & knit it up.

  7. Stacy October 28, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    I don’t know how to knit, but I do embroidery and crochet to keep calm. Does that count?

  8. Jennifer October 28, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    You’re cowl looks lovely! I haven’t yet taught myself to knit but lately, I do crochet to relax. I can also find sewing calming because I’m forced to focus on the project but, as Tasha said, if it’s to much “up/down, sew/press” it can much much less relaxing. Hand-sewing a hem or such can work though. It’s that easy, repetitive motion that helps.

  9. LM October 28, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    The cowl is beautiful! May I ask what yarn you used?
    I do calm down a lot when I knit, it’s almost addictive :) I think it’s a way of meditating. And I do look at things I knit and think sbout what was going on in my life at the time I worked in them. The best is though when I get out of the closet things my mom knit for me. I feel closer to her knowing that her fingers touched every loop and every piece of yarn in that garment. It’s like wearing her hugs :)

  10. Lauren October 28, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    i sew to calm down! this just happened last night – i had a very stressful evening (money woes, ah, don’t we all have those?), cussing & crying & making a giant ass of myself. i sat myself at the sewing machine when i got home & sewed for a couple hours, which in turn made my headache subside & completely lifted my mood. i’ve always considered sewing very relaxing, especially when i’m working on something familiar that i know will turn out lovely. i guess it’s just the fact that i can focus my concentration on something else – and sewing takes a LOT of my concentration! – which allows me to calm down, sort of like taking deep breaths.

    i don’t knit very much, but it is definitely calming.

  11. Seraphinalina October 28, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    I definitely sew for my mental health. I’m not sure about calming down exactly, but when negative thoughts won’t stop, there isn’t room for them when I’m following one step at a time, worrying about the next seam, the next stitch.

  12. Kerry October 28, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    I definitely knit to relax and find that different types of knitting match different moods. I like ‘easy’ knitting like stockinette to zone out but also more complicated things can be absorbing, which is relaxing in a different way I suppose.

  13. Wag Doll October 28, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    My sewing tends to be more complicated (for me!) projects so I don’t relax while I’m sewing. My knitting is very simple (sock monkey scarves usually) so that’s relaxing and I do it while watching TV, so I don’t eat cookies…..

  14. Sigrid October 28, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    Yes, I knit to calm down too. Sometimes it works too well and I keep knitting when I should be making changes in the pattern. It’s a very different feeling from sewing.

  15. Nadia Lewis October 28, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    Maybe it’s because knitting often takes longer, maybe it’s because it often occurs in the context outside of living room, but I do remember the stories that knitted objects travel through more than sewn ones.

  16. Debi October 28, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    At first I thought the post title said ‘Holy Cowl’ lol. Friday brain. Knitting is on my list of activities to explore–and the knitwear definitely comes in handy over here :)

  17. Carolyn S October 28, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    I knit more because I like to keep my hands busy (I frequently knit in the car when hubby is driving). And if I knit when I’m upset, my tension goes all wonky. But I absolutly sew to relax. I refer to sewing as my therapy! Whenever I come home from work grumpy, or I’m stressing out about something, my husband suggests I go spend some time in my studio. He knows I’ll be in a better mood after a little sewing time. :)
    Love the cowl, by the way. Gorgeous yarn!

  18. indigorchid October 28, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    I sometimes need to be calm to enjoy the knitting! If I’m distracted, I make mistakes. But perhaps there is something about the “ritual” of sitting down with knitting? Making a cup of tea, pushing over things around…

    And I absolutely connect my knits with my life as it was when I was working on it – and often what I was listening to! With my sewing projects too, if I was listening to a particular cd, or something was on the radio a lot, or watching House Hunters international (that’s what *my* cowl reminds me of!).

  19. Amber October 28, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    I need to learn to knit so that I have something calming to do. I mostly cross-stitch, which requires more attention to detail than I am capable of when I am stressed. I have been thinking about learning to knit, so your post is definitely timely for me. I will add that to my never ending list of things that I want to learn to do!

  20. Victoria October 28, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    The colours are so lovely! I’m jealous, I’d start making my own tomorrow but I’ve promised myself no distractions for my next project. I’m knitting a bolero to wear over my party dress for the office Christmas party!

  21. Stephanie October 28, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Sewing always calms me down =) Knitting a bit less, but that’s because I still haven’t quite got the hand motions and always drop/add stitches where they don’t belong =P

  22. Corinne October 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    I totally agree. I even keep a simple project in the car for those down times waiting for someone or Drs appointments. Your cowl is lovely, the color is like the sunset. Beautiful. Have a lovely relaxing weekend as an “engaged” person.

  23. Ashlee October 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    I definitely knit and crochet to relax/zone out. I prefer to choose simpler patterns with easy repeats to memorize so that I can just chill out with some good music and a great glass of wine and whip up something beautiful! Love your cowl. I’m participating in a “carefree cowl knit along” through luvinthemommyhood.com right now- there’s a ton of lovely cowls that people have created. You should add yours to the bunch!

  24. Marloes October 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    I love knitting however as I am doing a lot of lace knitting at the moment it is not very calming or relaxing. I do have a few “easy” knitting projects on the side which I love doing when I want to relax or calm down.
    Hope you have a nice weekend!

  25. Vanessa October 28, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    I find knitting, crochet, and sewing very meditative.
    It’s all engrossing, that’s all I’m thinking about when I’m doing it.
    If it’s an easy knitting or crochet pattern, it’s great to be able to do it while I’m watching the tv because I’m being ‘productive’ while I’m watching. :)

  26. petitejosette October 28, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    I’ve taken up knitting recently also, and currently working on this free pattern from ravelry:
    the honey cowl is also on my list!
    Knitting is definitely very relaxing, I find that when I do my mind wanders around, but I don’t really think about anything specific, it’s more like a “stroll” for my brain while I knit.

    Have you checked out Gina Brown’s Yarn, a yarn shop on Broadway and Alma. She has a pretty good selection of quality yarn, I highly recommand it!

  27. Anne October 29, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    Looks great, and such a lovely colour!

  28. Jessica October 29, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    I agree with Tasha – I knit to relax, but sewing isn’t always relaxing (sometimes it is, sometimes it just stresses me out even more!) Maybe that’s why I’ve knit so many things now!

    Some things, the really memorable ones, I’ll remember each time I wear the garment. Like I had this sweater I was knitting right after I returned from this amazing organization in Pennsylvania where people really, really do slow down and just take in things one at a time — NOT a place for multitasking, but a place for intentionality and consciousness. I distinctly remember knitting that sweater in my Boston apartment, going slower than I normally do, not thinking about anything but the stitches on my needles, and trying to preserve that feeling.

  29. Catholic Bibliophagist October 29, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    I do not find garment sewing relaxing because I find it “harder” than quilting. But piecing and quilting are very calming for me.


  30. Ginger October 29, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    I love this cowl! I made that pattern for my sister as a Christmas gift last year and it turned out marvelously (although I did the smaller version that just goes around your neck once). I have a pretty stressful job and I got hooked on knitting, even just a little bit, at the end of the day to unwind. It’s also something that I can do to stay entertained while my husband watches TV or hangs out. Sewing, on the other hand, isn’t as relaxing for me (because I make so many mistakes), but I do feel relaxed when I’ve already cut everything out and am buzzing right along on a project!

  31. Elisabeth October 29, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    I took up knitting just before I started grad school and I think I became so devoted to it because of how calming knitting was in the face of the trials and tribulations of grad school. I think it’s the rhythmic motion that’s so soothing, it’s almost like meditation with the repetitive stitches being a mantra. I also find hand sewing relaxing, too, probably for the same reason. Machine sewing tends to be more stressful for me.

    Certain knitted objects remind me of what I was doing at that time in my life and others don’t. Often where I got the yarn is more memorable than the actual knitting because I picked the yarn up while on vacation (souvenir yarn!). I have a sock in my drawer that lost its mate a couple of years ago but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it because I bought the yarn on the trip my husband and I took to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. :)

  32. Elisabeth October 29, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    I forgot to mention how much I love your cowl! The stitch pattern is lovely and I think the yarn you chose really highlights it well. Not to mention the color looks very good on you! You’ve inspired me to put the pattern in my ravelry queue.

  33. Linda T October 31, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    This is so pretty – you’ve convinced me I need to go download this pattern, thanks!

  34. Sarah October 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    Your cowl turned out great! I taught myself to knit a few years ago. For me it’s one of those things I always go back to. Kind of like riding a bike. Once you learn, you never really forget. I really enjoy knitting while listening to music, but only if the project is easy! If it’s more complicated I’m pretty much sitting there counting out the pattern in my head! Lol!

  35. Joanna November 2, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    I do not sew to calm down, it requires too much concentration. Moreover, it’s sewing that stress me sometimes! It’s like Tasha wrote – too much things to do while sewing. But knitting – oh yeah! it’s very relaxing for me, even when the pattern seems difficult. I think it’s because knitting reminds me of my childhood and holidays at my Grandma who taught me to knit. :)
    Your cowl turned out really lovely. Colours are so cheerful and energetic! I like it. If you like another relaxing piece of knitting, I recommend the cowl I ‘ve knitted recently:


    It’s easy, lovely and for free! And will look lovely in turquoise or mustard yellow, I suppose! ;)


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