suke-suke cowl

During almost 4 years of living in Japan I have tried to garner as much inspiration as possible and it was not hard at all – it’s all around us. I think when it comes to designing, I have found some ways to organize the actual process for me that helps me to trace back to my thought and the origins of it.

So to go back to the beginning of this new design – Suke-Suke Cowl – I must tell you about its inspiration.
Yokohama Bridge spans across several small islands actually consists of 2 bridges, Yokohama Bay Bridge and Tsurumi Tsubasa Bridge and both feature cool steel cables that form a linear pattern but differ on the top. Tsurumi Tsubasa actually looks “pinched” on top and it looks especially cool when you are on the bridge. The first time I have seen the bridge was from the top of Yokohama Landmark Tower, which was the tallest built structure in Japan before Tokyo Sky Tree was opened several years ago. This is the bridge that we had to take to get to the airport and back, so every time I was on the lookout trying to snap some images. Unfortunately, Japanese drive rather fast on Japanese roads, so all my attempts were futile. But thanks to the internet, here is a good image of it, taken from the water.

Tsurumi_Tsubasa_Bridgephoto credit

The way I saw those lines, I envisioned them as pleats or as lines from dropped stitches, so it was more about doing the research and swatching several times before getting to a certain point that you know if the stitch works and is relevant to your inspiration. Swatching can be tedious and more of a trial and an error process, but a lightbulb might spring to mind during most random moments like dinner and you just know you need to drop everything and test the theory out. I even tried to work the idea out on a machine knitting swatch which didn’t render any plausible effect. So hand knitting it was the way for me.


Last October, while teaching in Portland I have shown some of my earlier experimenting with this stitch pattern to my students during my 3D Knitwear class and how cool it was beginning to look.  To work a juxtaposition of something rigid and fluid, positive and negative space to create interesting patterning, surface design even only through knitwear. I have received great feedback about it which only inspired me to press on and keep working on it to perfect the make up and the finished result which you see here today.


When it comes to yarn choice working these type of stitch patterns it can be quite grueling. I know as one might think – which yarn to use, First World problems? But to allow the stitch pattern show best the yarn had to be perfect for it. The Plucky Knitter Primo Aran was my choice for it. The pattern and the yarn compliment each other on every level and give the desired result, at least to me. The way that it’s dyed as a semi-solid with a subtle over dye and because of the different fibers inside the yarn, the dye shows differently which  helps to make this patterning even more dimensional. As a result you see below, the larger size cowl that I worked in the beautiful Narragansett Grey color is reversible. The stitch pattern has different impression on each side and the larger version allow you more ways to play around with styling this accessory. The whole process took about a year, from the inspiration to testing, to swatching, to swatching some more and then finally the resulting design and pattern, but I hope you like it as much as I do.


The pattern is completely written out  and it comes with 2 different size options – 24″ and 45″ in circumference, both have same height of 8.25″. When I had my test knitters working on this pattern some of them were actually surprised that it is not as complicated as it might seem at first sight. I did rate this pattern as one for an intermediate knitter simply for the time it takes to work through. Some of the joining rounds for the pleats and that you need to pay special attention to pick up the exact stitches or in the end you might discover the dropped stitch ladders not willing to align correctly.  Otherwise, it’s really more of an advanced beginner type of a project.

There are several versions of it knit up on Ravelry already. So which yarn would you choose? HAPPY KNITTING!!!

Queue On Ravelry

$ 6.00

10 Responses to “suke-suke cowl”

  1. Alice says:

    Such a cool translation of architecture to knitting, maintaining the lines so clearly, but still creating a soft fabric and a beautiful accessory. Well done!

  2. Lila says:

    I *love* this stitch pattern. But I’m much more of a scarf person than a cowl person. Would it be easy to transform the pattern to work flat as a scarf?

    • Olga says:

      Hi Lila!
      Thank you so much for the compliments on the cowl. It depends what type of scarf you would want. Just from top of my head I can think of two options – you can cast on less stitches /do less repeats and work it as a tube. That way when you are finished you can have 2 scarves in 1, each would have different surface design. Remember though that this version would require more yarn. And if you wish to work just a flat version, you would need to decide how to customize a border, made one within the pattern or add couple stitches for making one. And of course instructions are given for knitting in the round, so you would have to reverse instructions for every other row when knitting it flat. Best of luck!

  3. […] stitch pattern inspired by the Tsurumi Tsubasa Bridge in Japan. Very […]

  4. Julia Riede says:

    What a lovely cowl and what a stunning texture!

    I recently purchased the pattern on Ravelry and managed to finish the smaller size of this cowl within a few days. I just blogged a short pattern review on my blog as I wanted to share my really positive experience with this pattern of yours.

    So far this has been the only one I purchased but I’m sure it won’t be the last one. Well done!

    • Olga says:

      Thank you so very much for your generous compliments, Julia! Thank you for the review and I am glad that you have enjoyed it so much and glad to have gained a customer in you. 🙂 Best wishes, Olga

  5. skeindalous says:

    What a stunning translation of inspirational object to fiber. This is such a satisfying stitch! Can’t wait to try it. Any feel for other fibers besides wool here? Something with less tendency to felt?Perhaps silk would be too slinky, linen too stiff? Have to think on that a bit.There is a bridge in Boston that has a similar construction to ‘yours’. Every time I drive over it I want to stop and gaze at it, but one does not do that while driving in Boston!

    • Olga says:

      Thank you so much for your kindest compliments! That sounds fascinating about the bridge to Boston, unfortunately I haven’t been to New England at all, so that is exciting to hear and something to look forward to!

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