Winter Carnival Cowl – Free Colorwork Cowl Knitting Pattern

The matching cowl to one of my most popular designs the Winter Carnival Cowl is a fun to knit and wear cowl. Choose from either DK or Bulky weight yarn to knit this free colorwork cowl knitting pattern right here on the blog. It is certain to keep you warm and bring on many compliments! Scroll down for the full free knitting pattern or purchase the ad-free PDF here.

This post may contain affiliate links. In the event of a sale, I get rewarded a small commission, at no extra cost for you. These funds help me keep my blog up and running to provide you with great content and free patterns so thank you!

Click here to Pin this Post!

How to read a colorwork knitting chart

When looking at the chart example below, the numbers on the bottom of the chart indicate the stitch number across and the numbers on the right hand side indicate the round. Colorwork is typically knit in the round so you will only read the chart from right to left for each round. To begin knitting start at the bottom right hand corner where stitch 1 and round 1 meet. (dark pink). Then knit across the first round reading the chart from right to left. Once you get to stitch 4 you will knit the stitch with your corresponding light pink color. 

Repeat these 6 stitches all the way around. I like to seperate chart repeats with stitch markers to help keep me on track.

Should I go up a needle size when knitting colorwork?

Most people knit colorwork a little tighter than standard stockinette or garter stitch. This is due to the yarn “floats” that are carried along on the inside of the work. I always recommend knitting a swatch of the pattern first to make sure you select the correct needle. Many find going up one or two needle sizes works well for colorwork.

Find a printer-friendly PDF version of the Winter Carnival Cowl here in my Etsy shop. The PDF version includes the full ad-free pattern great for printing and putting in your project bag.

Keep scrolling for the FREE version of the Winter Carnival Cowl Knitting Pattern.

How to choose yarn colors and why it’s important in colorwork knitting.

Selecting yarn colors for this free colorwork knitting pattern for beginners is very important to make sure the design shows up properly. I have a helpful video on my YouTube channel walking you through how I select yarn colors for my projects. When I was knitting the bulky yarn sample I switched up the placement of my colors after knitting a few rounds because I couldn’t see the pattern as well as I wanted to.

VIDEO: Choosing Yarn for Colorwork Knitting

Check out other Free Cowl Knitting Patterns

Winter Carnival Pattern Series

The Winter Carnival Cowl was designed to match one of my most popular patterns the Winter Carnival Hat. The Winter Carnival Hat uses DK weight yarn and comes in sizes for the entire family. It is a great first stranded colorwork knitting pattern. You can find the free pattern right here on the blog.

Winter Carnival Cowl – FREE Colorwork Cowl Knitting Pattern


The Winter Carnival Cowl is the sister pattern to the Winter Carnival Hat. It features a lighter DK version, as well as a cozy Bulky version. This beginner friendly stranded colorwork cowl is knit in the round from the bottom up. It features an easy beginner friendly color work chart with only two colors per round.

Helpful videos for knitting this cowl

Notes: Floats

The distance between colors is such that you don’t need to pay too much attention to catching floats throughout the cowl. I simply made sure to stretch my knitting across my needles before using the next color in order to make sure my floats weren’t too tight.



DK (Bulky) weight yarn in the following yardages…

Color A: 108 (64) yds / 99 (59) m

Color B: 80 (42) yds / 73 (38) m

Color C: 51 (25) yds / 46.5 (23) m

Color D: 74 (37) yds / 67.5 (34) m




Finished Measurements:

SIZES: DK (Bulky)


Approx 26 (23)” / 66 (58.5) cm, circumference x 15 (15)” /38 (37) cm tall


20 (14) sts and 21 (13) rnds = 4″ / 10 cm in chart, blocked


CO – Cast on

k – Knit

p – Purl

PM– Place Marker

Rep – Repeat

st/s – Stitch/es

Winter Carnival Cowl Knitting Pattern Directions

With smaller needles and Color A, CO 132 (78) sts, PM and join in-the-round being careful not to twist your sts.


Round 1: *K1, p1; Rep from * to end of round.

Rep Round 1 until work measures 1.5″ from CO edge.


Change to Gauge Needle and k one round.

Next, work rounds 1-78 (42) of Chart. (See DK and Bulky charts below)


Break Colors A, C, D.

Change to smaller needle.

Using Color B, *K1,p1; Rep from * to end of round.

Rep until top edging measures 1.5“.

Bind off in pattern.


Break Color B. Weave in all ends and  block.

DK Chart

Bulky Chart

Now you have a fun and colorful free colorwork cowl knitting pattern! Check out more of my FREE knitting patterns on the blog HERE.

I would love it if you took a moment to upload your projects to Ravelry or Pin this pattern to Pinterest so you can share it with friends! Also, don’t forget to share your knit hat on Instagram so I can see what you make! Us the hashtag #wintercarnivalhat and tag @whimsynorth

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *