How to knit marlisle colourwork in the round

My Oil Paint Cowl showcases a type of colourwork knitting that’s similar to stranded knitting (or fairisle), but has some unique properties of its own. In ‘marlisle’ colourwork, the foreground pattern is stranded in the usual way, but the background is marled, i.e. it’s worked with both colours of yarn held together. The marled background has the benefit of eliminating floats from those stitches, and it also adds a textural element and additional colour-effects to the pattern. You can find out much more about the technique (and some beautiful patterns too) in Anna Maltz’s book Marlisle: A New Direction in Knitting.

My test knitters and I had a lot of fun knitting our Oil Paint Cowls, and experimenting with different options for the MC/background colour. I chose a variegated yarn with blues and purples, while others chose gradients, self-striping, and even wilder variegated yarns. I love designs which have plenty of scope for play!

Oil Paint Cowl WS.jpg

The method:

Odd-numbered rounds:

  • knit foreground stitches with CC (contrast colour) only, holding the MC (main colour) behind

  • to keep floats loose: stretch out the foreground stitches just worked

  • knit background stitches with both colours held together.

Even-numbered rounds:

  • knit foreground stitches with CC only, holding the MC behind

  • to keep floats loose: stretch out the foreground stitches just worked

  • purl background stitches with both colours held together.

Here it is in video form, so you can see exactly how the stitches move (I'm knitting rounds 5 and 6 of my Oil Paint Cowl):

You can find the pattern for my Oil Paint Cowl here, or over on Ravelry.