We have a giveaway winner—Jan B, check your email! Many thanks to all of you who left a comment. Mary Jane Mucklestone released her Scandi Cowl earlier this month, and we fell in love with it! She chose to use Berroco Vintage® for this gorgeous stranded colorwork cowl, and it’s a great choice—this machine-washable blend of acrylic, wool, and nylon comes in a wide array of colors! We asked Mary Jane to talk a bit about her cowl and to ponder some additional colorways, so read on for ways to customize the Scandi Cowl knitting pattern.
From Mary Jane: The first thing I do when changing the colors in a pattern is to analyze the pattern motifs and the colors used and put them in some sort of order.
We have 5 sections:
1 Faroese Patterns
2 Norwegian Star and Pine
3 Danish Borders
4 Icelandic Patterns
5 Swedish Stars
We have 6 colors
1. 5102 Buttercream (A) white 2 skeins
2. 5107 Cracked Pepper (B) charcoal
3. 5120 Gingham (C) pale teal
4. 5106 Smoke (D) grey
5. 5121 Sunny (E) yellow
6. 5170 Sapphire (F) blue
Let’s look at the motifs themselves. In each of the 5 sections we can determine a pattern color and a background color. In Faroese Patterns the white is always the pattern color. The background color is charcoal in the first allover motif, followed by pale teal in the center pattern motif and back to charcoal in the final allover motif. In Norwegian Star and Pine, the background is light and the pattern stitches are dark. In Danish Boarders the values are reversed, dark as the background and light as the pattern color. You’ll notice in Icelandic Patterns the background color and pattern color alternate in each of the 9 horizontal motifs. For Swedish Stars, blue is the pattern color for the star motifs with yellow unexpectedly as the light color. Blue is the background color for the center vine motif, while the vine motif uses white as the light color. In every case, there are two colors of high contrast in each individual pattern motif in every section of the cowl; a light color and a dark color. This is typical of many Scandinavian pattern motifs.
We know by this quick breakdown that we could easily make Scandi Cowl in just two colors, one light color and one dark color. We would simply assign placement by looking at whether the pattern color in every motif is dark or light. But say you’d like to make Scandi Cowl in a lot of colors like the sample. Let’s analyze the colors further.
Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. Our colors range in value from the lightest, white, to the darkest, charcoal. I lay my colors out in a value sequence as best I can, the way my eye sees them.
From light to dark:1 light – white
3 medium – yellow, pale teal, grey
2 dark – blue, charcoal
A few of the medium colors are a little puzzling so I’ll often take a black and white photo just to see what the camera thinks. As I suspected, the 3 medium colors are very similar in value when viewed by the camera, so let’s analyze them again with our eyes. The grey is a heather, it has a little white in it, and appears lightest to my eye. Pale teal is a solid color and seems darker to my eye. Yellow, though the camera sees it as light, packs a punch in real life, having more of an impact than the black and white image reveals.
This allows us to look at the colors in a different way:
3 solids – white, pale teal, yellow
3 heathers – charcoal, blue, grey
3 saturated hues – yellow, pale teal, blue
3 monochrome – charcoal, grey, white
So….what will I choose? It all depends on my mood. So far this winter I’ve been in a very graphic mood, enjoying high contrast, and reverse images, like a film negative, so my first impulse is to choose black and white; maybe 5145 Cast Iron and 5101 Mochi. Graphic and stunning!
To soften it just a bit, I might instead choose the darkest grey, almost black 5189 Charcoal for the dark color and 5106 Smoke for the light color, to lessen the contrast. That will give me a rather sophisticate urban look. I want to take a peek at the motifs again, to imagine how these choices will look. I see both the Icelandic Patterns and Swedish Stars sections have the light color as the background, and they are placed one after the other, so the light color will be the background in both of these sections resulting in quite a long stretch in Mochi or Smoke. I actually like this effect, and I think it will be nice, especially since the cowl will be worn looped once.
I had a couple of knitters ask for a purple version of Scandi Cowl. The easiest option is to keep the monochrome colors as is (the white and two greys), and only change the saturated colors, swapping them out for a range of purples. I must make sure that I have enough contrast between the pattern and background colors in every instance. I would swap out 5190 Aubergine for blue, 5155 Delphinium for pale teal and either go crazy swapping 5167 Dewberry for yellow, keeping with the unexpected, or play it safe and use 5183 Lilacs for a more tonal look. To lessen the contrast as I did with black and white I might exchange white for Dove. The only issue here would be in the Danish Borders, is there enough contrast with background color Smoke for the pattern color Dove to show up? Not likely, so would elect to use Aubergine, a dark color for the pattern motifs, inverting the dark/light placement in this section.
You could use this same method to choose colors of the same family or hue, say a range of blues or reds. If you want to add a little crazy – what ever you swap for the yellow can be a different hue altogether and pack a wallop!
Now the folks at Berroco were kind enough to send me a current Vintage color card. It’s just getting warm outside and I’m really feeling lively. The intention of the original cowl was to have a rather unusual colorblock feeling while using various motifs. I’m today I’m kind of loving bright and bold! I might just work on my cowl section by section and throw out the idea of swapping color for color. I’ll be sure to keep the value contrast in each section so I can see all the pattern motifs. Hold on, I know these colors are not for everyone, I’ve been influenced by some of the London fashion week shows!
I’m going to use 3 super saturated colors – Forget Me Not, Orange and Envy and two fairly neutral colors, Smoke and Minty.
For Faroese Patterns: Smoke for background, Orange for pattern, in the center section Forget me not as the background.
Norwegian Star and Pine, Minty as the background and Forget Me Not as the pattern.
Danish Borders Envy as the background and Minty as the pattern.
Icelandic Patterns alternate Smoke and Envy as the background colors, and use Orange for the patterns. This crazy choice will make this section look striped!
Swedish Stars…Forget Me Not as the background for the Stars, Minty for the Star Patterns and Minty as the background for the vine pattern and Envy as the vine.
Crazy but super fun!
Thank you so much Mary Jane for stopping by the Berroco blog! Be sure to follow Mary Jane on Instagram (@mjmucklestone) to see all of her incredible design work and more. Want to knit your own Scandi Cowl? We’re giving away a kit to make this great cowl pattern! To enter, leave a comment below with your favorite shades of Berroco Vintage. Comments must be received by 3:00 pm EST on Friday, March 2. Giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere, 18+. Yarn will be shipped by Berroco and Mary Jane will be gifting the pattern via Ravelry or PDF download link.