Color Choices for Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Scandi Cowl

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

Motifs
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.

Color
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.

162 Comments

  1. Wow! That is the first word that comes to mind! The cowl is unique, of course, and absolutely gorgeous!
    Favorite colors- aubergine, lilacs, delphinium,and dewberry. I can picture it now.
    Thank you!

  2. What a fun and special pattern!!! I love the motifs, it looks so fresh and at the same time it feels like a a cowl a could wear with so many different jackets. I would start with the color calico 5172 and choose other colors to complement it. I’m putting that pattern in my to do list!!!!!

  3. I would LOVE to win!!! What a lovely pattern and I had fun checking out all the different colors to choose from. These would be mine…
    mochi
    smoke
    cracked pepper
    lilacs
    petunia
    dewberry

  4. Love Berocco Vintage. I grabbed some in Sage to make a sweater for my grandson.
    If I were making this for myself I’d choose Cerulean as a starting point. Love it.

  5. I saw this pattern a few weeks ago and gave it a red heart then, I added it to my Ravalry library. I really like the blue version shown, crisp clean look for a winter garment. I’m anxious to try this, but very intimidated with this complexity. I’m wondering how pink would look substituted for the blue. This is such a beautiful piece – I am awestruck at its design. Free kit or not, this is definitely on my to do list.

  6. I love all the blues and aquas (and so many more!) and would probably start any project with Indigo or Juniper and go from there. And what a gorgeous cowl. Once again, Ms. Mucklestone hits it out of the ballpark with another beautiful piece of stranded knitting!

  7. I love this pattern. I like black, greys to cream to go with my black leather coat. I like the idea of red white and blue to wear with my nacy quilted coat to our local university’s sports games. (Colors are red, white and blue. Go Eagles🤗)

    The purples are beautiful as well. Your yarn is lovely regardless of the color.

  8. What a fun and pretty cowl pattern from Mary Jane! I love Vintage and have used it in so many different colors for so many projects. I guess if i had to choose, my most favorite would be the dark, heathery shades like Douglas Fir and cracked pepper and charcoal. Currently knitting with the juniper shade for a manly cabled sweater for my dad!

  9. Love the purple shades…but your super saturated colors, even though they are so out of my color comfort zone, are soooo fun! I can picture this cowl … love it!

  10. I’d love to make this cowl. I use Vintage for knitting all of my baby sweaters. It wears so well. Red Pepper, Lilacs, Oats, Lapis and Mochi are some of my favorite colors.

  11. This cowl is exquisite. What a difficult choice to narrow down to 6 colors. My picks would be mocha, smoked pepper, sapphire, forget-me-not, delphinium and dewberry

  12. I learned Fair Isle from Mary Jane’s motifs book, and love her color sense. I did not realize, though, that motifs have their own color combination traditions. My default preference is the autumn palette, but for the Scandi cowl I would break from my beloved rut and choose charcoal, ecru, and a range of yellows and grays.

  13. I am hoping for spring soon and spring easter colors are on my mind. Like the the light pastel colors. Birds nest, kiwi, banane, fondant, petals, Misty to name a few! Thank you for the opportunity!

  14. I love the colors on the sample: Buttercream, Cracked Pepper, Gingham, Smoke, Sunny, Sapphire. Mary Jane, your stranded colorway Craftsy class is SO GOOD! I am working on it right now and would love to polish my skills with this cowl!

  15. What a great range of colours! I’d start with Scotch Pine (a perfect vintage green colour!), and add Bird’s Egg, Mushroom, and Sour Cherry for a pop. Choosing colours is so much fun!

  16. Thyme, slate, smoke, cracked pepper. While they wouldn’t be nice together for the cowl, I’m all about the greys right now. Could be the dark grey weather that doesn’t seem to be coming to an end.

  17. Always a sucker for the blacks/greys enlivened with white and red or something in the pink family. Sakura really appeals this afternoon.

  18. A beautiful pattern with a great selection of colourful quality yarn…..a knitter’s dream. Thank you for the opportunity to dream.

  19. I love Mary Jane’s creativity, the Vintage Berroco colors are all beautiful. I gravitate to gingham, smoke and sapphire

  20. My favourite vintage colours are Dewberry and Petunia. If I had to pick 6 I would probably match them with Dungaree and Breezeway, then have Cast Iron and Buttercream as the extremes.

  21. I love the buttercream and aubergine, I too have been in a contrast mood this winter, but love the richness of the purple.

  22. the colors I would use are Light: Minty, Dark: Juniper and the three mediums would be: Delphinium, Fuchsia and Sapphire. I think this would look awesome!

  23. I like many of them, and tend to gravitate towards greys, blues, and earthy greens. For this I think I’d pick Slate, Smoke, Sapphire, Misty, Evergreen and Red Pepper

  24. Mary Jane presents a beautiful knit learning curve and paints her canvas with Berroco Vintage. I’m a heather girl at heart so my choices of Berroco Vintage I would paint with would be: Tidal Pool; Forest Floor; Douglas Fir; Petals; Mochi; Cerulean; Sunny or Cast Iron

  25. So many beautiful colors to choose from! Love the pattern and all the possibilities!
    Charcoal, Smoke, Dungaree, Buttercream, Aubergine, Blush

  26. My favourite colour is Cardinal…although all the colours are beautiful. I have used Berroco yarn for many projects and just love the way it feels when knit up…I would love to try the Scandi Cowl.

  27. I love those scandi colors. I see calico, smoke, cardinal, mochi and banana going in to a lovely cowl. Great idea for a giveaway!

  28. I’d have to say berry, oats, and black. I made my first afghan with these colourways when I was learning to knit a couple years ago. This afghan is still in great shape and the colours match our basement perfectly!

  29. Beautiful, 5102 Buttercream (A) white 2 skeins
    . 5107 Cracked Pepper (B) charcoal
    5120 Gingham (C) pale teal
    5106 Smoke (D) grey
    5121 Sunny (E) yellow
    5170 Sapphire (F) blue

  30. The original colors are so fresh and work so beautifully together, I’m especially loving the gingham and the sunny and the buttercream!

  31. I love the saturated colors. They are beautiful, especially Forget-Me Not, Envy and Minty. I am partial to greens and blues with a bit of Sunny.

  32. I love Vintage Berroco and any design by Mary Jane Mucklestone. Together, well, a match made in heaven! I am partial to the greens of the Vintage line, but my eye keeps going back to how Buttercream and Gingham go so well together. Perfect. Can’t wait to make the cowl! Thanks for the opportunity.

  33. Cracked pepper, buttercream and sunny are current favorites. Lilac is another. I’ve knit a lot of Vintage in the past and love it.

  34. I have been admiring it so much in its original colours. But if I was designing one to go with my wardrobe the colours would be buttercream, storm, Sage, Merlot, fennel and Chana Dal. (strangely enough that combo seems edible)… 😀

  35. Mmmm always tricky when your looking on line instead of in person… I guess I’d love to try smoke, slate, calico, dungaree, and delphinium

  36. What a beautiful cowl – I would love to make two versions – one using the natural sheep colors and another using autumnal tones.

  37. I’m feeling springy, so I would start with Spring Green and Macaron and then add Smoke in there as well. Maybe a darker gray with those as well?

  38. What a gorgeous sampler style cowl! Because I am eager for spring, I like the Easter egg colors aster, blush, fondant, dewberry, minty and misty.

  39. My favorite shades of Berroco Vintage are: Sage, Cracked Pepper, Indigo, Sunny, Fennel, Tide pool. I would also add Dove throughout !! What gorgeous colors. Its wonderful to read about Mary Jane’s color techniques.

  40. You didn’t say — do we need to say our 5 favorites? Will do that, in case (they’re all gorgeous): mochi, lapis, magenta, smoke, Yukon green

  41. That is a beautiful cowl….just trying my hand at fair isle knitting….calico, sapphire, minty, and snow day would be fun to use….

  42. Sunny, grapefruit, paprika, aubergine, kiwi,, blue moon, envy, sour cherry. Don’t make me choose, all are lovely!

  43. Would love to do a new color work project in your new pattern ❣️ The colors you selected initially caught my eye, so love the pop of yellow with the grays and blues. This is just colors I would enjoy knitting this in for a fresh spring accessory for a gray jacket I often wear. Thanks so much, Mary Jane for explaining how you choose colors for a project,…. happy knitting❣️😎

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