Saturday, January 2, 2010

First Project: Gryffindor Scarf

My Kids are crazy about Harry Potter. I have been reading a bit of HP to my middle daughter, 8 (who shall here be known as "Twinkle") every night at bedtime and she loves it. Meanwhile, eldest daughter, 10 (who shall here be known as "Ginger") has nearly finished reading the whole series herself! So when I decided to start knitting again, they both requested Gryffindor scarves.

"Okay" Said I

"Who gets the first one?" said they in true sibling rival style.

"Whoever wants the crappiest one" said I.

"I do!!!" said Twinkle.

"I do!!!" said Ginger.

"Eeenie Meenie Mienie Mo..." said I.

So Twink got the first one.

I based it on the scarfs from the first movie (they changed the uniform style in movie three - I am a bit of a HP nerd). The Gryffindor colours as described in the book are scarlet and gold, but as was done in the movie I went for a more maroon and gold colour combo. The whole thing was knitted in stockinette stitch. I used Lincraft "cozy wool" and 5.5mm needles. I cast on 35 stitches and did 35 rows of each colour before changing. There were 4 maroon stripes and 3 red stripes in total with maroon tassels on each end. It came out real good, and if she ever becomes a Brisbane Broncos fan she is all set up with her first bit of kit!

What I like about this piece:
I love the way stockinette stitch looks when it lies flat and after I blocked it it looked even neater. Blocking sure helps cover up any uneven tension!

What I don't like:
It's a shame that stockinette stitch curls up so much (See picture). If only it would lie flat like rib stitch or garter. Oh well. No point railing against the laws of physics I guess. However, By the time I was two stripes in I was wishing I had chosen another stitch that would lie more flat, or had used a stabilising border or something.

Twinkle complains that the cozy wool is itchy. Wish I'd chosen a softer yarn!

Interesting things that happenned during knitting:
I discovered that when doing a row of purl, I prefer to purl into the back instead of the front of the stitch. However, in order to make this feasible, the knit row beforehand needs to be done with twisted stitches - i.e. wrapping the thread around clockwise instead of anticlockwise (I hope I got that the right way around). Anyway, that makes the back of the stitch sit higher on the needle than the front so it is easier to purl into it. I actually switched halfway through the second
yellow stripe and you can see a clear but hard to describe change in the stitch pattern at that row (see picture).

I also read about "continental style" knitting during the making of this scarf and decided to give it a go. I can see how it would be faster if you could do it well, but talk about dropped stitches! There's a row of very uneven looking knitting in the middle of the second red stripe (see picture). I found it near impossible to do without losing at least a ply of each stitch (and I hate split plys!). I'm sure if I persevered I could get to about 90% as good a result as I do with my
english style knitting, but I'm not sure I could do better than that, and quality is more important to me than speed! Besides, all my reserves of perseverance are in use in other areas of my life right now - my knitting is for relaxing! So I shall continue to be a thrower, not a picker, for the foreseeable future.

End result: Twinkle loves her scarf (even if it is too hot to wear it in the middle of the Australian summer) and I am proud to have successfully completed my first project!


  1. Shanti, I think I learned to stitch initially by purling at the back of the stitch and twist the knit stitches exactly like you describe. That is how we learned in primary school in Sweden! I think that is why it felt so weird for me when you were teaching me the proper way! But now I like the proper way!