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Project Corner - Venomous Cowl and a lesson in contrast

I finished this cowl a little late for Halloween, but it's always spooky season here at Skeinhawk Towers!

Stephanie Lotven of Tellybean Knits designs fabulously fun colorwork patterns, including a range of ingeniously shaped cowls. Knit in the round, central increases create a longer front than back, giving a pointed bandana effect. This is not only comfy to wear but also shows off the intricate designs beautifully. The Venomous Cowl is the first one I’ve knitted, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.

A pink and grey knitted  cowl with a spiderweb design, modelled on a dressmakers dummy
The Venomous Cowl pattern by Tellybean Knits

I actually started this cowl twice. Originally, I was using a skein of purple ‘Beauregarde’ along with the grey ‘Maxim', but they just weren’t doing it for me. While obviously very different when sat next to each other in the skeins, they did not give the requisite ‘pop’ when translated into colorwork. So I switched up to magenta and POW! Spiderama!

A lesson in contrast

The mistake I made was not checking my contrast first - and I don’t mean the setting on old TVs that those of us of a certain age remember having to twiddle about with so your nan could watch the snooker. While hues can be very different, if they are too similar in depth of shade, two completely different colors of yarn can blend together when used for colorwork. This can give a lovely subtle effect, but if you’re after clear sharp patterns, it’s a bit disappointing.

A good way to check the contrast between yarn is to take a photo of them together and turn it into black and white (we’re back to the 1980s telly again). If they both look like similar shades of grey, there’s not enough contrast. If one is noticeably darker than the other, you’re in business.

Compare my two attempts. See how much more defined the shades are against each other in the pink version?

Fancy making your own?

Luckily, my bright pink and grey worked splendidly together, and I am loving the result. In fact, it looks so good and was so much fun to knit, I’ve put together a bundle listing so you can pick up the same yarns that I used in one no-brainer click. The pattern is not included, so if you want to be twinsies with me and knit yourself a Venomous Cowl, you’ll need to pop over to and buy one. I am in no way responsible for what other patterns may fall into your basket while you’re there; I’ve got a Bonehead Sweater on my list next!


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