I promise some non-knitting content soon, seriously. Anyway.
I recently got a book from my zooba.com queue without really knowing anything about it. (“Oh, a new knitting book. It seems OK; I’ll put it in the queue.”) When Knitting New Scarves arrived, at first glance my reaction was strictly “meh.” “So they look a little funny,” I thought. “Would I really want to knit these?”
But then I sat down to read through the book, and within moments I was entranced and amazed. The scarves that Lynne Barr designed for this book aren’t just the usual “flat scarf, flat ribbed scarf, cable scarf, lace scarf, striped scarf, plain scarf in really expensive yarn” rotation we’re used to seeing in most knitting books. These scarves use techniques that are sculptural, and even architectural. (She mentions specific buildings that inspired some of the designs.) The scarves have waves, flaps, “chain links”, “beads”, and all kinds of 3-dimensional shapes we aren’t used to seeing in scarves. (Some of them have to be stuffed with batting to get this shape, but most do not.)
Even the designs that don’t work for me (and there are some that don’t — Labyrinth, for example) are all fascinating and inspiring in their creativity. I immediately put the Linked Rib into my Ravelry queue, and ordered the required yarn from a Ravelry member. But while waiting to get started, I had a thought.
(Photos after the jump.)
I had picked up a skein of the new Debbie Mumm Transitions yarn at Jo-Ann, just to try it out because it is so gorgeous. (Photo to the right.) Like Noro Kureyon or Patons SWS, it has long color repeats that can make a striped effect, or even a neat colored square effect when used for entrelac (Patons SWS in that case). So I was contemplating what to do with it. I didn’t want plain stripes, but I have done quite enough entrelac for one year, so I didn’t want to do that either. And then I realized: the Shag scarf is made up of squares! It would probably look really good in a yarn like this.
I immediately cast on for Shag, which turned out to be unusual, but dead easy. Here is my project journal from Ravelry:
10/31 – I realized tonight that this yarn, with its Noro-like long color repeats, would be well-suited for this pattern, which is essentially a series of boxes, not unlike entrelac. We will see. I’ve knitted 2.5 squares so far, and it looks pretty.
11/1 – Ulp. I was misreading Step 4 of the instructions — didn’t realize that the picked up stitches go the other direction every other time. So I ripped back to the end of the second square and continued on, correctly this time.
11/2 – I’m about a foot into the scarf now. (New photo coming tomorrow, I hope.) Now that I understand the construction I don’t even need to think about which direction the picked up stitches need to go — I can just tell by reading my existing knitting. Dead easy pattern once you get to that point — just knit the square, pick up stitches, knit a square… the only thing that makes this one step above easy is that I did have to think a bit at first to get started on the right path. One thing that helps is once you realize that all the flaps stick out on the front. The wrong side is flat, so there are no flaps there. You pick up sts on the wrong side, but the flaps will appear on the right side.
11/6 – Nothing new to add — just chugging along slowly, because I haven’t had time to knit much.
11/8 – Getting there! It’s going really quickly now.
11/9 – It’s done! It is about 46″ long, using all of my skein of yarn except for a little bit at the end. It is kind of short for a normal scarf, but I think it would look nice crossed and pinned in place. It was a fun and easy project, but started to get a little boring there near the end, so I’m glad it’s done. The yarn worked out nicely. Someone in one of the forums claims this stuff “blocks like wool,” so I might be able to block it into a longer length.
It’s not blocked yet, but you can see the great sculptural look this scarf has. And I was right, the colors in that yarn work beautifully with this pattern.
This one is more difficult than Shag, but not in a bad way. It’s just that you have to juggle 6 dpns during one short part of the pattern, and the set-up and first time through the pattern repeat are a little confusing because they are so strange. But once you grasp the concept it becomes way easier. I’ve done 3 repeats now (only 1 is pictured here) and it gets easier each time. I might even memorize the darned thing before all is done. The links are tricorner shapes, linked and offset. Very cool.
If you are the kind of knitter who thinks “oh, no, not more scarves,” don’t let that scare you from this book. It’s a must-buy if you are interested in technique at all. (I might add, though — there’s no lace in this book, and most of the scarves are plain garter or stockinette. The Linked Rib you see here? No increases or decreases whatsoever. The roundness of the links is caused by the technique itself, but the actual knitting in this scarf is just circular stockinette and ribbing. And the Shag scarf? Despite all of those flaps, it’s all one piece — no sewing up. Shag is actually a scarf any beginner could knit, I think.)