I’m not a big scarf knitter. It’s not that I don’t relish the easy knit (I do, I do) or that I think scarves are beneath my dignity (I don’t, I don’t), it’s that I never think to knit them until it’s Deep Winter–at which point, I am already knitting two sweaters and endless socks, and those always take priority.
That shapeless pink blob was a sweater I unceremoniously “won” at a local spinning guild’s annual auction (read: no one wanted the sweater and the guild president said, “Well, why don’t you just take it”). It was not my cuppa. The cardigan was terribly constructed–it reached to my knees, yet the sleeves were so skinny that even twiggy A. had trouble getting it on. (In fact, I suspect I won it because they were afraid it would fall apart if they had to get it off of me). The yarn was crunchy and pilled and the color of diseased mucous membrane. You see it in the photo above just moments before I picked it up and carried it to the trash can.
I looked at the yarn again and considered its crunchiness and tendency to pill. I looked and looked and got the sweater shaver out and depilled a few inches, and there it was: 100% handspun silk gleaming up at me underneath some knitting gone seriously wrong. I spent a full weekend depilling the knitted fabric and ripping it out. At the end of it, I had a sweater’s worth of silk.
Heinously colored and badly handspun silk that I would never, ever knit with. Crap.
Nothing a little powdered flavored drink mix and a gallon or two of vinegar couldn’t fix. The result was 300 yards of a nice dark rose, 300 yards of a lilac color, and 360 yards of reddish-pink with some blue shot through where the purple dye broke. I gave away the rose and lilac silk, since neither was really my color, but A. loved the reddy-blue stuff. My Wool-Averse Wonder wanted a scarf. I chose the waterfall lace pattern from the Harmony Knitting guide I had shoved into a closet. Knit up, it looks less like mucous membrane. Right? Right?
As you probably remember, I went in for foot surgery in December to have my rogue navicular bone dealt with. And I knew that recovery would be long and boring–bedridden and our TV doesn’t get any channels. Scarf knitting was the answer.
Oh, it was so pretty. My very own handspun silk single. Which was too unevenly spun to be able to knit up on its own and which was also going to pill like nobody bidniz. I paired it with some Jaeger Matchmaker DK Merino, put it in my recovery bag, and headed off to the surgical center for some fun.
I don’t remember much about the first day of recovery because the nice nurse in surgery gave me “a moderately strong painkiller” that made me feel as if a cartoon anvil had just fallen on my head. I do, however, have a vivid recollection of being home with my foot–now the size of a soccer ball–propped up on about five pillows, the circular needle in one hand and the Matchmaker in the other. I cast on until it looked good. Knit it back and forth, garter stitch, two rows of Matchmaker color 1, three rows of the handspun, two rows of Matchmaker color 2, three rows of the handspun, etc.
I have to say, I realized during this time that I could, in fact, knit in my sleep (or a convincing simulacrum thereof). I dozed off during Day Two right after I had my painkillers in the middle of a pink row; I woke up about an hour later in the middle of a blue row. This was no cause for celebration, despite what all you knitters-under-deadline are thinking. No. It totally wigged me out. You see, when I sleep, I sleep, and there is no waking me. If I was doing something in my sleep–even something as beneficial and therapeutic as knitting–who knows when I’d take to driving to work while sleeping, or slicing onions while sleeping?
The scarf only provided amusement for three days, and by the time I cast off, I was also off the painkillers and so fully able to comprehend why the dang thing came out so skinny in spite of having somewhere close to 600 yards of yarn to work with.
Because it’s 17 feet long.
This was the scarf that started it all, the scarf I made before I fell arse over teakettle, broke my foot, and permanently busted the “smart knitter” part of my brain.
As a sock knitter, I had knit more short-row heels than you could shake a full load of MDSW socksat, and each time I did, I marveled at the construction. Simply by turning the work before you finished a row, and turning with more stitches left each time would give you a 3D structure. I love short rows.
But, I thought in a flash, would you have a 3D structure if you short-rowed in the other direction a complimentary number of stitches? Could you, in fact, make a flat piece of knitting that uses short rows? I knew of a sweater in a book that used this technique, and I thought it was intriguing.
The family was heading back from a visit to NJ and I had exactly two balls of Noro Silk Garden with me. J. was driving and we took a scenic detour up I-87 through the Adirondacks to avoid nasty traffic. The colors of the Silk Garden matched the fall foliage of the mountains perfectly, and the way the color changes worked up with the design of the scarf made me think of rolling hills in October.
Is it flat? Well…sort of. As you knit it, it does tend to bump all about, and I found that mine curled a bit without a stabilizing edging knit along the sides–but with the edging and a quick steam block, yes, it lies flat.
For your early fix of fall, click here.
by Harmless Drudge (copyright 2007, http://www.harmlessdrudge.com and the Harmless Drudge, all rights reserved, all that jazz)
2 skeins Noro Silk Garden, color 228
NOTE: You may need to reskein them to keep the color changes contiguous
1 pair US 8 straight needles
2 US 8 double-pointed needles (not two sets–just two DPNS)
Pattern (in “general scheme of things” and “row by row” instructions):
1. Cast on 24 stitches.
2. Work four rows in k1/p1 rib
Row 1: K1, P1, continue to end
Row 2: P1, K1, continue to end
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 once.
3. Begin short-row pattern:
Row 5: K18, turn work [NO WRAPPING]
Row 6: Slip 1 st, P17
Row 7: K17, turn work
Row 8: Slip 1 st, P16
Row 9: K16, turn work
Row 10: Slip 1 st, P15
Row 11: K15, turn work
Row 12: Slip 1 st, P14
Row 13: K14, turn work
Row 14: Slip 1 st, P13
Row 15: K13, turn work
Row 16: Slip 1 st, P12
Row 17: K12, turn work
Row 18: Slip 1 st, P11
Row 19: K11, turn work
Row 20: Slip 1 st, P10
Row 21: K10, turn work
Row 22: Slip 1 st, P9
Row 23: K9, turn work
Row 24: Slip 1 st, P8
Row 25: K8, turn work
Row 26: Slip 1 st, P7
Row 27: K7, turn work
Row 28: Slip 1 st, P6
Row 29: K6, turn work
Row 30: Slip 1 st, P5
For general schemers, you are turning your work at K(prev-1), where prev is the number given in the knit row above. Do not wrap your stitches, and don’t purl them when you flip the work and purl back. Yes, they are floppy. That’ll be a design feature. Jargon covers a multitude of sins.
Row 31: Knit all stitches all the way across.
Row 32: P18, turn work [NO WRAPPING]
Row 33: Slip 1 st, K17
Row 34: P17, turn work
Row 35: Slip 1 st, K16
Row 36: P16, turn work
Row 37: Slip 1 st, K15
Row 38: P15, turn work
Row 39: Slip 1 st, K14
Row 40: P14, turn work
Row 41: Slip 1 st, K13
Row 42: P13, turn work
Row 43: Slip 1 st, K12
Row 44: P12, turn work
Row 45: Slip 1 st, K11
Row 46: P11, turn work
Row 47: Slip 1 st, K10
Row 48: P10, turn work
Row 49: Slip 1 st, K9
Row 50: P9, turn work
Row 51: Slip 1 st, K8
Row 52: P8, turn work
Row 53: Slip 1 st, K7
Row 54: P7, turn work
Row 55: Slip 1 st, K6
Row 56: P6, turn work
Row 57: Slip 1 st, K5
Generally, you are doing the same pattern, only purling all the stitches you knit in the first arc and knitting all stitches you purled in the first arc. Can you guess what comes next? Of course you can.
Row 58: Purl all stitches all the way across.
Repeat the full pattern (Arc I, Bridge, Arc II, Bridge) ten times or until you have a little more than four color repeats left on the second ball.
4. Work 4 rows of K1/P1 rib as at the beginning, then cast off. Do not cut the yarn!
5. Using the two DPNs, pick up the last of the cast-off stitches (the one with the tail hanging off of it). Using the yarn, cast three stitches onto the DPN.
6. Knit the edging as follows:
Row 1: K2, K2tog by knitting the last cast on stitch and the selvedge stitch of the next row together.
Row 2: P2tog by purling the selvedge stitch of the next row to the first stitch on your needle, P2
Row 3: P2, P2tog as above.
Repeat these three rows until you have hit the end of the scarf and cast-off.
7. Using your DPNs, do the same for the other long side.
You are knitting a border like this to keep the color gradations together. Adding an additional six stitches on either side throws the division off just enough that you’ll probably hate the way it looks. If you’re anal-retentive like me, anyway. I like the contrast color framing the scarf. I also ran out of yarn for the second side. Don’t be like Harmless, kids: plan ahead.
8. Edge the ends as you desire (I braided the remainder of my Silk Garden together, then looped it through the bottom, securing it with a crochet hook where I needed to).
This scarf benefits from a steam blocking. I gave it a good wet block right after I knit it, and it didn’t do jack.
Lay your scarf along a flat heatproof surface and mist with water until nicely damp. Pull the scarf out to shape, lay a thin cotton cloth over the scarf and iron on medium high heat until flat. You will need to do a little prodding, as the short rows will try to get all 3D on you.