The Bloodwood Cowl is a unisex, two-colour, two-skein fingering-weight cowl that features a striking zig-zag colourwork pattern. Mitenae, a knitter and Ph.D student in Western Australia, was inspired by her landscape:
I live backed onto bushland. Kangaroos roam through the gardens in summer and the trees, predominately Marri, also known as Red Gum, weep a blood red sap as if they are crying. The Bloodwood cowl, a unisex, two colour, two skein fingering weight cowl is inspired by where I live. The zig zag pattern reflects the unmarked trails as they weave in and around trees in the bush, and in winter large puddles dot their paths. It’s a very different type of landscape and nothing like forests in the northern hemisphere. It’s irrational, ancient, and at times spooky.
The Bloodwood Cowl reflects all of this and knit in Oxblood and Charcoal, colours inspired by the sap and the bush fire burnt bark of the trees, both sides will be revealed when it’s looped around your neck. Knit in your favourite colour combination, whether it be wisteria, birch, pumpkin, midnight or raspberry, the Bloodwood Cowl will make a striking and versatile addition to your fall and winter wardrobe.
The cowl is constructed by knitting colourwork in the round and uses two colours equally to produce the reversible fabric. All the “floats” are hidden away on the inside of the tube and so there is no fear of snagging on loose yarns.
And since Kitchener stitch on its own typically inspires sweaty palms and crazy anxiety, let alone TWO-COLOUR Kitchener, Mitenae has included a detailed photo tutorial to show you exactly how to graft your cowl beautifully. Of course, if you wanted to avoid any grafting whatsoever, you can keep the cowl as a scarf and do an easy three-needle bind off at each end and then attach some fringe!
The pattern includes both charts and written instructions for the colourwork. We used CashLuxe Fine in Charcoal and Oxblood for this sample cowl, but our Tough Love Sock or BFL Sock would work equally well. Just find your favourite colour combination and go get the pattern on Ravelry here »
It’s amazing that while Mitenae is busy working on her novel, her Ph.D project, AND her dissertation, she still has time to knit and design as much as she does! We interviewed her here to get to know her a bit better:
What is your preferred type of yarn to work with?
All of it! I prefer working with natural fibres, although I admit to having some acrylic yarn still leftover from when I used to crochet blankets in my pre-knitting days.
What is your knitting style? Continental or English or both?
English, but I can knit continental and often use it in colourwork.
How did you learn to knit?
I was first taught in when I think I was in an upper primary (grades 4-7) class over a series of friday afternoons one term. I can’t remember how old I was, but I clearly remember being taught. While I was initially taught then and knit occasionally over the years since, it was never serious and I never really took to it. A few years ago I was obsessively crocheting blankets and I got bored with it. So, needing a challenge, I picked a pattern on Ravelry, Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery (you can find my version here) and relearned as I went, teaching myself. I’ve only been knitting seriously (obsessively) for about two years but I’ve been crafting all my life, thanks to my grandmother who insisted one year when I was young that we make our Christmas gifts, and it stuck.
Do you practice any other fibre crafts?
I crochet, although I don’t do that quite so much anymore. I’m fascinated by spinning but have avoided trying it as it would probably end up in another obsession. I do have some superwash white fibre here, but alas, no spindle to do anything with it.
Do you find inspiration in other artistic media, such as film, painting, clay or photography?
I’m a writer doing my Ph.D in creative works, with a background in film and theatre. I’ve drawn all my life, I still do. I read a lot and I love taking photos. For me, inspiration is everywhere and nowhere in particular. It can be the texture of something which fascinates me and sticks in my mind, or it can be from the need to wear a particular thing at that moment, or from an idea that just pops into being, or even a stitch pattern in a dream. I made sure that time to examine it closely in my dream and wrote/drew it down as soon as I woke up. That stitch pattern now exists in my niece’s baby blankets I crocheted for her.
How has social media, such as email and Ravelry, affected the design process for you?
Hugely. I live in the hills east of Perth, so civilisation is ages away and I work from home. Social media, especially Ravelry has allowed me to be connected to other knitters and designers. I became curious and took knitting up seriously because of Ravelry. I love seeing what other people knit and design and I often look at the Hot right Now list on Rav when I really should be working on my PhD. I like seeing what other people do, what they’re inspired by, and that in turn inspires me.
What is your favourite tool in your knitting kit?
My Dyakcraft needles. I adore them, especially my wood sets, but I wouldn’t be without my crochet hooks or stitch markers, which I often use for knitting cables.
What tip(s) would you give to an aspiring designer?
One of the pieces of advice I heard time and time again in my early days of writing (my other passion) was don’t publish your first piece of work and I think this applies to design as well. I remember a lot of my early designs, which were done as gifts, and seeing what I’m doing now, and looking back at them, I’m glad they were never published. Take the time to develop your design skills, to hone your craft and don’t be too quick to need to get your designs published, but that said, at some point you do need to take a deep breath and put yourself and your work out there.
What kind of needles or hooks do you prefer to use? ie Metal, acrylic, or wood? Straight, circular, or DPN? Why?
My favourite needles are my Dyakcraft Interchangables. I adore all three of their sets. I love the wood and the metal, but I find myself using the wood sets more, especially my charcoal set. I just love my black needles. I find my knitting is better, my tension is more even with them and I love that they were made just for me.
How do your friends and family influence what you knit?
I get requests. My sister ‘asked’ for fingerless mittens for her birthday this year, so I obliged (I don’t always) and designed them as I went along. I love the finished product and I’m going to have to make some for myself.
Did you learn something new writing this pattern?
My ideas for designs usually outweigh my current skills, so for this it was two colour grafting. I spent ages working out how what I wanted to do could be done and did a lot of research online and in my reference books to understand grafting.
How did you name this pattern?
It took a while to find a name for this pattern as nothing seemed to fit. The name comes from the trees in the area. Marri, also known as a Red Gum, is a species of Eucalyptus, one that weeps dark red sap from its wounds. I back onto bushland and these trees are everywhere and the paths in the bush weave in and around them and in winter water puddles in the dips in the paths. The colourwork pattern reminds me of where I live. The colours are taken from these trees. The Oxblood reflects the blood of the trees and the charcoal their burnt bark.
Where did you get the inspiration to design this pattern?
I saw something, I can’t remember what, or where I saw it, only that was colourwork and it may have been while watching late night TV. I know that’s not helpful in the slightest. I sat down at my computer and played in Numbers (mac version of Excel) with colours and squares creating patterns until I came up with something I liked. The design used in the Bloodwood Cowl was the last, where it finally came together and I *knew* I had something. Something lovely and something I *had* to knit, if only I could figure out how to graft the thing in pattern to make is seamless.
Tell us about the pattern testing process.
It was lots of fun. It’s exciting to see others not just test knitting *your* pattern but wanting to test knit and liking the finished piece. It makes me smile.