Why 'Baroque Purls'?

I just made the switch from my old Instagram handle @amyvdlaar (an abbreviation of my name) to @baroquepurls, which I’ve been using on Ravelry for years. Now that I’m using Instagram as much as Ravelry, I decided it was high time my names on my two favourite sites matched, so that people can find and recognise me more easily. And I realised that while I’m at it, I should probably explain why I originally chose the name!

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New pattern: Oil Paint Cowl

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.

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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.

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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).

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The Oil Paint Cowl pattern is available on Ravelry.

How to block scalloped edges

The scalloped edges of my Beeswax Shawl are one of its most special features, formed by working increases or decreases at the ends of certain rows. I was determined to preserve these rippling edges during blocking, and I came up with the following method which worked very well. This method could be adapted for any shawl with a rippling edge, if you want a very even ripple and/or dislike using lots of pins.

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Magic loop: yes, it is!

After my success with two-colour brioche for the It's New To Me KAL back in October, I decided to keep up my upskilling momentum and try another new technique that I've been vaguely meaning to try for years: magic loop!

If you're not familiar with it, magic loop is a method of knitting a small circumference in the round; an alternative to using double-pointed needles (which I'm prone to dropping).

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