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Modern Argyle Cowl

I have a secret.

I hate knitting intarsia.

There, I said it. And I’d say it again.

People find this odd because I love stranded color work knitting so much. But intarsia? I often refer to it as “Fair Isle knitting’s evil cousin.” Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate it as a technique and I’ll do it when required (I even taught our babysitter how to do it so she could knit her impending grandchild a baby blanket), but it doesn’t put me into a state of knitting bliss like Fair Isle does.


There’s a misconception that certain techniques can only be done via the pain and grumpiness that often accompany intarsia knitting… for example, argyle. Our friends at Wikipedia tell us, “An argyle pattern is made of diamonds or lozenges. The word is sometimes used to refer to an individual diamond in the design but more commonly refers to the overall pattern. Most argyle layouts contain layers of overlapping motifs, adding a sense of three-dimensionality, movement, and texture. Typically, there is an overlay of intercrossing diagonal lines on solid diamonds. Argyle knitwear became fashionable in Great Britain and then the USA after the first world war. Pringle of Scotland popularised the design, helped by its identification with the Duke of Windsor. The duke, like others, used this pattern for golf clothing: both for jerseys and for the long socks needed for the plus-fours trouser fashion of the day.”

You see argyle everywhere, from knitted socks, to golf club covers, to vests and *shudder* kilts worn by yours truly for 4 years in high school. It’s an interesting design and knitting it can be complex, depending on your intentions and how many colors you’ve got going.

I like debunking knitting myths and today let’s set the record straight. Argyle can be done via stranded color work knitting. Yup, it’s true. Remember this cowl I did for Imperial Yarns back in 2014? Argyle? Yes. Intarsia? No. Ha! Tanis – 1, intarsia – 0.


My latest design, the Modern Argyle Cowl, runs in the same vein as the the cowl I designed and knit in 2014. Designed to be an easy Fair Isle cowl knit in the round so there’s no wrong side visible, this beauty is knit up on US 15’s, ensuring a fast and fun knit. Using 1 hank of each color in The Fiberist’s new Curie Lux Bulky, it’s a modern take on argyle without the fuss of bobbins and intarsia knitting. Starting with a provisional cast on and ending in kitchener stitch, this cowl would look amazing in endless color combinations. Need help with colors? Read my post about color theory here.

This is a bizarre time of year, weather-wise. Yesterday I was walking around in cropped pants and a t-shirt. Today I’m wrapped in a sweater wishing I had on warmer socks. The Modern Argyle Cowl will keep your neck warm without needing a coat, or can be worn as one of the many layers you’ll be taking on and off until we settle into the consistent warmth of spring.

I’ve been teaching like crazy lately and my Fair Isle classes are packed. So many people walk in saying “this is the year I tackle color work knitting!” Jump on in, dear friends, the Fair Isle knitting water is warm.

Download the Modern Argyle Cowl here.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Well this is so pretty it makes me want to tackle colorwork. Plus I love that it’s on big needles!

    March 11, 2016
    • You can do it! Fair Isle knitting isn’t as difficult as people think, as long as you take it line-by-line and have a good teacher! 🙂

      March 11, 2016
      • Yeah I think that will be the next class I take at Fibre Space!

        March 11, 2016
  2. Good day!

    When I saw the FO of the Modern Argyle Cowl, my jaw dropped. It is wonderful. I love the colors, the chunky yarn, and the way it way it frames you face. It looks lovely on you.

    When I got to the point of “Download the Modern Argyle Cowl here.” I was even more excited. I’m on a very limited income as I’m disabled and I thought it was free. I was so disappointed that the link took me to Ravelry and it was a paid pattern.

    I have a long list of paid patterns I would love to knit. My favorites are the Gotham Cowl and the baby blankets as I knit for the homeless. Fortunately for me, you are very gracious to provide so many free patterns. Why couldn’t this one (and Gotham) be free? LOL

    Seriously, I love and admire your designs. You are very much appreciated.

    quotku on Ravelry

    March 11, 2016
  3. Carol Espinosa #

    Hello Tanis Like the cowl could you possibly write a pattern using worsted or bulky weight

    March 12, 2016

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