Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This Is For Candy...

I will do just about anything for dark chocolate, no not really, but I do have a real weakness for it. Some kind, diabolical person filled a gift box with Hershey miniature candy bars and left it on the group table at Wooly Wonders yarn shop, where I work, over the holidays. I did my part in trying to find all the dark chocolate minis. I have enough guilt that I probably should replenish the stash, of course that means there will be more chocolates to snack on during WOW (weaving on Wednesdays) and when I work. But I digress.

Candy was actually my art supervisor in my former life as a Clark Co. Middle School art teacher. We’ve since both moved on to other things but run into each other occasionally. We have found in each other a kindred spirit--someone who like to knit during football games. So for the past few years we have both brought our knitting to the same Super Bowl party.

This year I ran across Candy at a holiday party just before semester break. Sorry to say, I talked her ear off. I told her about some of the websites that I found in the holiday issue of Vogue Knitting that I mentioned in my last blog entry. I also mentioned a knitted scarf pattern that my son had found for me on a craft magazine website, craftzine.com. I promised to pass the pattern and the websites to Candy as she handed me her business card with her email address.

Don’t they say that “the way to Hell is paved with good intentions”? When we got back from Salt Lake City Dec. 31, after helping Carlee and Tom get settled, I noticed Candy’s business card laying on my computer desk! The great procrastinator had forgotten to send the promised items to Candy before we left for SLC. Yuck.

So to make amends I’m going to try describe the scarf and illustrate the stitches used in the scarf pattern I promised to send Candy. I found I didn’t know how to do the stitches and had to ask Joyce the owner of Wooly Wonders to show me how to do them.

So for the rest of the blog I’ll concentrate on the directions of the herringbone scarf, which is not difficult once you know the two basic stitches (where have you heard that before--but it’s really true.)

This is the blog entry that my son passed onto me via craftzine.com:
My So Called Scarf - October 26, 2004
I was wearing this scarf over the weekend while I was at the Knit Out in Boulder, and I got a number of comments and requests for the pattern. Here’s the story behind the scarf. A couple of years ago I was in San Francisco and happened on the yarn shop, Imagiknit. What a fun shop! The owners, Allison and Sara, are so personable and helpful. I would recommend stopping in if you are in the Bay area anytime soon! There were a ton of scarves knit up on a rack as samples, and that’s where I spied this lovely one. I had never seen Manos Del Uruguay before and fell in love with this colorway, it’s color 113 (they are calling it wildflowers). The scarf pattern came with the yarn, one of the shop girls had typed it up. Now, every time I wear it, someone comments on it and I’ve been asked so many times for the pattern that I finally called the store and asked if I could give it out. They just laughed and told me that they appreciated the call, but that it was just a stitch pattern out of a pattern book and that I could distribute it at will. Thanks Imagiknit ladies! So here it is:
Materials: 2 Skeins of Manos del Uruguay; US #11 Needles; Darning Needle
Glossary: psso=pass slipped stitch over; P2tog=purl 2 together
[CO=cast on; BO=bind off (I added these items]
-CO 30 Stitches.
-Row 1: K1, *sl 1, K1, psso but before dropping the slipped stitch from the left needle, knit into the back of it* repeat until there is one stitch left, K1.
-Row 2: *P2tog, do not slip stitches off the needle, purl the first stitch again, slip both stitches off needle*
-Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you run out of yarn.
-BO. *Weave in all ends. Wear proudly! Posted by Stacey at October 26, 2004

I looked through a bunch of my knitting pattern books and the only one with this pattern was “365 Knitting Stitches a Year - Perpetual Calendar” (2002) by Martingale and Company on the October 30 page. The wording was slightly different, I’m sure to avoid copyright infringement, but the technique was the same. It’s called a horizontal herringbone stitch in this calendar.

I tried knitting the pattern with some Manos del Uruguay I had in my stash, but the colors were very dark and the variations in the thickness of the yarn were too much. Sometimes the strand was as thin as thread, and it was hard to keep track of the stitches, so I switched yarns. I’m now using Kaya by Crystal Palace Yarns 100% wool, color 0108. It’s a two ply, variegated yarn in a ball of 65 yards recommended for a 10.5 - 11 US needle. Since it’s not a thick ’n thin yarn I’ve been much happier knitting with it. My scarf measures on the needles between 6.5 and 7”, and I’m kind of a tight knitter especially with this pattern. A skein of Manos del Uruguay is about 138 yards, so “My So Called Scarf” takes about 276 yards, which is a generous amount for a scarf, partly because of the stitch which almost creates a double thickness with the crossover stitches.

Other chunky yarns which could be used with this pattern perhaps using a size #13 needle would be Berroco’s Hip Hop, 100% wool skein of 76 yards, and cast on 2-4 less stitches. Another yarn might be Nashua’s Painted Forest, 100% wool with 55 yards a ball. A third yarn you might use is Cascade Yarns’ Nikki which comes in some beautiful colorways. Like Manos del Uruguay and Hip Hop, it’s a thick ‘n thin yarn of 100% wool but the skeins are larger at 110 yards. I’d probably figure 250-275 yards at a #13 needle, so 4 skeins of Hip Hop and 5 balls of Nashua would probably work. Depending on how wide and how long you want your scarf you could get by with 2 or 3 skeins of Nikki.

Because the technique produces a tighter fabric, whichever yarn you decide to use I recommend going up two needle sizes to get a scarf fabric that isn’t stiff and too tight. The label on the Manos del Uruguay recommends needles US 8-10 and the yarn does look thinner than Hip Hop and Nashua.

Other Needle Sizes and Yarns
I’m also trying the pattern out with smaller needle sizes. Generally, to make changes to the scarf directions keep in mind the total stitches cast on must be an even number. For my own sanity I like to make the number of cast on stitches a round number as it’s easier to remember. A person could hand a tag on the cast on yarn tail with the number of cast on stitches on it. If you’re working on more than one project at a time a reminder helps. Or put two knots in the yarn tail to stand for twenty stitches, or three knots to stand for thirty stitches, etc. As a senior my “hard drive” sometimes reaches overload, so I try these tricks to cut down on my frustrations.

As I mentioned before when you pick a yarn, use knitting needles two sizes up from the size usually used with that yarn. The rest of your decisions are figuring how many stitches to cast on for the desired width, and how long to make the scarf.

Right now I’m using size #10 needles with Noro’s Silk Garden with 38 stitches which produced approximately a 7 ¼” wide scarf. I’m also working on #8 needles with Noro’s Silk Garden Sock Yarn with 40 stitches on a scarf that is about 6 ¼” wide. This one is only about an inch long as I tore it out to move up a needle size, so the width might not be too accurate.

The knitting needles I’ve been using are Serendipity Needles birch needles with polymer clay finials (ends). They’re a specialty item that we sell at Wooly Wonders that are great for gifts. I bought a pair to take on a cruise because they were so cute, but I really liked knitting with their sharp points. So I’ve gotten some more needles in other sizes.

It’s been kind of fun trying different yarns with different needle sizes to see what the pattern will look like after a couple of inches. Of course the larger the needles the faster the scarf develops and the lesser the amount of yarn used.
Next Post: How the stitches are worked.

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