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.Read More
The Oil Paint Cowl is a cosy cowl with textured colour-play inspired by the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. The all-over colourwork pattern uses the brilliant ‘marlisle’ technique pioneered by Anna Maltz, which adds textural contrast and colour-mixing to stranded colourwork. The foreground pattern of brushstrokes is stranded using one colour only, and the background is worked in garter stitch with both colours held together.
I was lucky enough to visit an amazing Van Gogh exhibition last year at the National Gallery of Victoria, and I snapped a few photos of details I liked - you can see some of my favourites below. The colours, textures, and movement of the paint ended up inspiring this cowl design. I suggest picking one of your own favourite paintings to help choose your yarn colours!
I knit my cowl using two skeins of Malabrigo Mechita (100% merino; 420yds/384m per 100g skein). To keep the brushstroke pattern well defined I chose the semi-solid colourway ‘Frank Ochre’ for the stranded stitches, which also shimmers beautifully in the marled garter stitch background. And to really bring out the impressionist painting effect, I chose the variegated colourway ‘Sheri’ for the background, to add extra richness and depth.
I also tested out the combination of Frank Ochre and Glitter, and the swatch reminds me of Van Gogh’s paintings of fading sunflowers. But in the end I went with Sheri for the background, because the cool tones give a livelier contrast with Frank Ochre.
Oil Paint Cowl features:
a cosy short cowl knit in the round from the bottom up
all-over marlisle colourwork pattern of stylised brushstrokes
techniques include stranded colourwork, and knitting in the round
suitable for solid or semi-solid fingering-weight yarn with contrast between the two colours
the background/MC also suits variegated yarn or colour gradients
one size, easy to alter by changing the number of repeats
pattern includes full written instructions as well as charts (made possible by the small 8-stitch repeat).
The Oil Paint Cowl pattern is available on Ravelry.
Simple mini-cables, like those featured in my Beeswax Hat, Cowl, and Mitts, are easy to work without using a cable needle. If you're a cable lover, this is a brilliant trick to be familiar with - especially if you have a tendency to leave your notions bag in another room!
My favourite method is the 'slip and switch' method, which mirrors the movements of k2tog and ssk decreases. The difference is that after rearranging the stitches, you work them individually instead of decreasing them together.Read More
Grafting aka Kitchener Stitch is used to seamlessly join two sets of 'live' stitches together. It's commonly used at the toe of socks knit from the top down, but it's useful for other types of project too, including cowls! Two of my cowl designs, Folia Loop and my new Aether Cowl, are knit flat and then grafted garter-stitch-style.
Grafting garter stitch is a little simpler than the better-known method for stockinette, since in this case the steps for the front needle and back needle are identical.Read More
A provisional cast on is a method of beginning a project using waste yarn that will be unpicked later, leaving 'live' stitches which can be loaded onto your needles for grafting. A few of my cowl patterns call for a provisional cast on: Cinnamon Stars, which is knit in the round as a long tube and then grafted, and Folia Loop and my latest Aether Cowl, which are both knit flat and then grafted.
I like the perfectly invisible graft that this technique makes possible - for me, it's well worth taking the extra trouble when casting on. My favourite provisional method is the Crochet Provisional Cast On, which involves crocheting around your knitting needle using waste yarn.Read More