The Icelandic Star Cowl: An intarsia adventure

Julia Farwell-Clay's Icelandic Star Cowl from Knitscene Accessories 2013

Last winter, Knitscene Assistant Editor Louisa Demmitt knitted a beautiful wrap—Julia Farwell-Clay's Icelandic Star Cowl from Knitscene Accessories 2013.

It's a wonderful piece that incorporated the intarsia method to make a beautiful star. The color combinations for this eye-catching design are fun to think about! Here's Louisa to tell you about her knitting adventure.

An (Icelandic) Star is Born

I finished my Icelandic Star Cowl. It is knit flat, with bulky yarn, and features a gorgeous intarsia star pattern.

I've never done intarsia before, but this project seemed like a good way to learn. I am using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky, in Navy Pier for the main color and Harvest for the contrast color. These two colors together remind me of the Swedish flag (I studied in Sweden and am more than marginally obsessed with all things Swedish), thus the pairing makes me incredibly happy.

If this combination is not your cup of tea though, I highly suggest browsing through Lorna's Laces colorways for inspiration. All colors are sweepingly beautiful, and an added bonus is they have fantastically evocative names, such as Navy Pier, Lincoln Park, and Baltic Sea.

Louisa models her beautiful Icelandic Star Cowl. Doesn't it look great on her?

I feel incredibly proud of myself for finishing my cowl, because I have not had great success with finishing projects since I started my job here in May. There are so many things to make, I get excited about the next thing, without finishing the thing I was excited about yesterday. I'm working on that, but it's quite hard when you're surrounded by so many patterns and so much yarn!

My timing for completing this knitted cowl was fortuitously impeccable though, as we were having some of our first cold Colorado days. The bulky yarn and generous size of this this cowl make it an amazing buffer against wintry weather; basically wearing it is like getting a big hug. This was my first foray into intarsia, and I was immediately hooked. I really like stranded colorwork, but this was completely new.

I tried to get away with working with yarn strands pulled from both the inside and outside of the wound skeins, and while this worked for a while, it eventually led to an unsolvable puzzle of a mess. There was no way to untangle all of the strands without cutting them, so that's what I did, and wound the ends on bobbins instead. From my very limited experience with intarsia, bobbins make the whole undertaking possible. With all strands of yarn separate from one another, it's possible to move them over, under, and around one another however you need to in order to make your pattern work.

Icelandic Star in progress
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This manipulation is super important to make sure that there are no holes in your fabric. When moving from one swath of color to the next, the old yarn needs to go over the new yarn so that the two are entwined. If you're looking for a more in depth explanation of intarsia, I suggest you check out Kathleen's intarsia tutorial from January, it's very helpful. (Scroll down to mid-page for the yarn manipulation instructions.)

I found the Icelandic Star Cowl to be really addicting, and it moved quickly because the yarn is bulky! I didn't feel overwhelmed by the intarsia because it started simply and got more complex as the knitting continued.

I was also reminded of how much there is to learn with knitting. If you want to try new things, there is always a new technique to tackle. And the best thing about knitting is that your efforts create something tangible, in this case, cozy knitwear perfect to wear with winter rolling in.

Knitscene is full of patterns like this: exciting, funky, challenging, and—most importantly—fun to wear! Get the entire 2013 Knitscene Collection on today (including Knitscene Accessories)!

Knit happy!

P.S. What are your intarsia-knitting tips? Share them with us in the comments!

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