It wanted to be a cowl

suffolk cowl

The first piece for the Suffolk Collection is now underway. Its been a little bit of a struggle so I thought it would be interesting to share with you why it was so problematic and how I resolved it.
What I wanted to achieve: something to wear around the neck on a chill spring day that evoked the amazing pop of colour the oilseed rape fields bring to Suffolk at this time of year. I love the beauty of the yellow fields, while I know it is grown elsewhere it really screams “home” to me.

What I had to work with: two skeins of West Yorkshire Spinners BFL that I dyed, one with madder and one with indigo.

What I struggled with: My firsts thought was to make a shallow v shaped shawl with an undulating pattern. But I couldn’t see how the undulating pattern and the colours would play together nicely. It didn’t really tell the story I wanted it to and I felt the colours looked two stark when in two solid colour blocks.

I decided to break the problem down and really think about the story I wanted to tell about the fields.

  • I wanted to incorporate an undulating pattern to show how the fields all contain small hills.
  • I wanted it to be solid colour blocks as the startling thing about the rape fields is how solid the colour is. No lace for this project.a pop of colour
  • I wanted to incorporate texture because up close the oilseed plant has almost a frothiness to it that I wanted to invoke. Looking at the picture below I hope you’ll see why I chose garter stitch stripes.a sort of frothiness
  • I wanted to evoke the big fields and skies you find in Suffolk. The fields can be huge as the farm sizes increased. Almost all land is turned over to arable and hedgerows were ripped out making very large areas to farm with large tractors. The skies feel big here with nothing taller than a couple of stories to break them up for miles around.
  • I wanted to also add a river to the design as the River Orwell played quite a large part in my childhood. This also provided another feature to break up the yellow and another texture to add.


Once I had worked through these ideas it seemed obvious to turn the problem on its head and make it a cowl. I reswatched and ripped a little bit more before knitting finally. I hope to get it finished before the oilseed stops flowering so I can get it photographed in or near a field – or at least holding a bunch (it also grows wild in lots of places nearby)