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When I began my Swatch Scarf, I was limited to the assortment of colors that were going to be featured in MDK Field Guide 17: Lopi.

You, dear knitter, have a smorgasbord of 38 shades to choose from. 

Setting the tone

I began by sorting the colors into a range of values, and then I began to knit—starting with shades of green for the Mountains, then proceeding right into the Lantern motif. The pattern was bold and sharp with these deeper contrasting shades. 

Hmmmmm …

As I continued knitting motif by motif, I transitioned from bold contrast toward a calm and gentle flow. Pairing several neutrals with some blues, a light mossy green, and that golden heather, with flits of fuchsia was the winning palette that I wanted to continue with.  

I lopped off the original beginning, letting go of more than 12 inches of knitting thereby gaining the cohesion I desired.

That’s better.

Chart your path

The charts with their variants on pages 36 and 37 of Field Guide 17 offer many options to combine color and motif, to go bold or muted. The stitch multiple, angles, and central line-up make lovely transitions simple and natural.  

One mistake that I made (and then cut away) was to create a harsh and straight line between the charts. Organic transitions were what I desired.  

The Mountain chart flows in value from dark to light, and the last mountain color can shift to the Sparkle, like stars.

The Lanterns and Fleur de Lis are very similar and flow well together, with so many options for color pairings.

The Beads were my favorite motif to play with. Each “strand” appears on the same light background, and I just went up the chart knitting 3 of the 4 strands using the same CC, with a bold pop for the center. For the fourth strand I opted for the half and half background colors that allow a transition to a new background color merging into the next motif. 

This is a great time to revisit the “By the Bujo” article if you are inclined to plan it all out beforehand!

Pro tip for perfect tension

Whether you are knitting using a magic loop method, small circumference circs, or on DPNs, one highly recommended tip is to knit “inside-out” —with your RS facing inward. 

This technique causes the yarns to wrap around the outer circumference of the tube, and is especially helpful when going from one needle to the other in either technique as the yarn is more liable to pull in at those folds in the fabric if it’s stranded right-side-out.

Started with a provisional cast on, the scarf can easily become a cowl. I’m already looking forward to my next sampler …

Voilà! Round-by-round notes on colors and motifs are here on Nell’s project page at Ravelry.

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About The Author

A passionate perpetual knitter, published designer and enthusiastic teacher, Nell Ziroli continues to be inspired by luminaries and students alike. See all her designs here.


  • Thanks to Nell for sharing her process. I fell totally in love with the sampler scarf in the Lopi field guide and it was the first thing I knit when my yarn arrived.

    • This writing and sharing was a pleasure, thanks for the comment and compliment!

  • I am curious to know what became of those 12 inches you cut off. In my mind I am seeing a muff for tiny little hands.

    • That end is in my stash now, just in case…

  • Whoa, brain exploding. Knit inside out? I’m sure I’m overthinking this, but can’t for the life of me figure out what you mean. All I can think of is to purl instead of knit, and what’s the point of working on a circular needle if I have to purl!

    • You’re knitting looking at the inside of the tunnel.

    • If you look at the second to last photo, see that the knitting is falling as knits from the needles. It really is mind-blowing, but ultimately very simple! : )

    • It’s an elegant solution – you’re still knitting on the right side (none of that pesky stranded purling), your tube o’ knitting is just inside out. I think of it as reaching inside the tube to knit. Hope this perspective helps!

    • If you take a look at the photo you can see that it is all knit stitches. She is still doing only knit stitches in the round, no purls, but the tube of fabric is on the inside rather than how most people knit in the round. It is just a matter of orientation. Imagine reaching into the tube in the photo with your hands, and pulling all the fabric out- that’s how you are used to seeing it.

      It’s an interesting tensioning tip. I usually just stretch my stitches out on the right needles so the floats are relaxed but I can see how this would work really well.

    • You still knit the knits. It’s just that you are knitting at the far side of the circle rather than the near side. I can’t explain clearly but it’s one of those things that is clear as soon as you do it.

      • Beautiful ! Thank you!

  • INSIDE OUT!!!! Mind blown. I feel this is precisely the trick I’ve been looking for.

    • My thoughts exactly. Life-changing. Well, if life is knitting. Which IT IS!

  • My accidental motif revelation I love – those beads with the bright center can be very delightful. I did a ‘what the heck, it’s only 20 stitches wide’ experiment with the pockets for my destination pullover and they definitely look like little flowers tucked in those pockets. ❤️


  • I love hearing from Nell! And what a good tip to knit “inside-out” on this project. This might actually get me to try color work plus I’ve always wanted to knit with lettlopi yarn.

  • I tried knitting inside out on a mitten. It worked fairly well, but the mitten is a bit smaller than the first one for which I went up a needle size. However, the mittens were my first color work project after a 2 hour class (in person, so a while ago), so my technique should improve over time.

  • Thank you Nell, I love the idea of paying attention to how the patterns flow together, had never really thought of that for sampler scarves. Since I typically would not swatch a scarf or cowl this is something to look out for!

  • Lovely stuff, Nell! I think it can be fun to have a limited palette and challenge your creativity. You obviously met that challenge!

  • Thank you to everyone who has read and commented on this article. I am so -very- delighted to share tips and techniques, and my deep love of knitting with you all. xo

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