Saturday, January 2, 2010

Second Project: Wiggly scarf

It started with the yarn...

It was called "Fuzzy Wuzzy" by Lincraft and was a vibrant lime green with lots of halo and fine blue and an orange fibres showing subtly through the green. The interplay of colours was pure joy! And still being at the "scarf variations" stage of my development as a knitter, I have the luxury of being able to buy a ball of wool with no particular pattern in mind. (I wonder, does one get past the "I must have this wool - I'll figure out what to make with it later" stage and develop a more proactive approach to yarn buying? I also wonder if it is possible to get past the frustration of not understanding why I can't knit any pattern I want with any yarn I want regardless of weight / guage / style...)

So, fancying a break from Gryffindor scarves (see previous post), I decided to make a scarf for my youngest daughter, 5 (who shall herein be known as "Apple").

I knew this yarn couldn't be used for just any old scarf, however, and I just couldn't think up any scarf that would be do it justice. Keyhole scarf? Too ordinary. Moss stitch? Would get lost in that halo. Longitudinal ribs? To pedestrian for my bubbly five year old. It had to be a scarf that said "Why walk when you can run, why run when you can skip, why skip when you can dance, and why dance when you can climb all over Mum just when she has finally found a moment to sit down with a cup of tea."

So I hopped on and I trawled and trawled and trawled. That site has a wealth of patterns but geez it's hard work looking through so many links with no thumbnails! But finally, just when I was giving up hope I found this...

Revelation! What a perfect marriage of whimsy and simplicity! And I only had to add one new technique to my existing skills (increasing and decreasing) to achive it. This would be a cake walk. I showed it to Apple and she was unequivocal - this was the scarf for her.

She scampered off waxing lyrical about how she was going to "trick" her friends with her "Wiggly Scarf" (she seemed to be under the impression that it would actually wiggle like a worm and that people would think it was alive) and I set about casting on.

And here the illusion shattered. That yarn... that beautiful, beautiful yarn... was a sodding b*^ch to knit with. It had absolutely no stretch to it, and gripped to itself like velcro, which made it damn hard to stitch with any kind of rhythm. And those simple increases and decreases? I did followed the instructions in my book (The A-Z of Knitting by TK), but whenever I increased, the stitches would come out so tight that each zig and zag of my scarf curved along one edge and looked all mutant.

I started, struggled, and frogged* about 8 times. Every time there was some fatal flaw in what I had done. The scarf was coming out too wide or too narrow. Or the needles I was using were too big and the weave was too lacy. Or I couldn't tell whether I was zigging or zagging and changed direction after 2 rows. At one point I even switched to crochet to try and achieve the shape with a more familiar technique, but still the devil-yarn overcame me. Some of the pieces wouldn't even frog, so auto-feltacious** was the yarn! If it weren't for the thought of Apple's delight at the prospect of her wiggly scarf I would have given up.

Then somehow, finally, it clicked. I made a few changes to the pattern. I held my yarn with less tension and knitted my increases SUPER loosely. And I downloaded a free stitch counter app for my iPhone (simply called "Row Counter") to keep track of where I was. After so many false starts I was finally in the groove and the scarf began to take shape very very quickly.

And then a miracle occurred. Instead of climbing all over me, Apple became fascinated by watching me knit. The fact that I was doing it for her seemed to mean that she felt I was giving her my undivided love attention even though I was sitting comfortably, relaxing with my own choice of pastime and not getting elbowed in any tender places! Such bliss to have my little soft cute one nestled against my side watching her green dream unfurl. She even appointed herself as Stitch Counter manager, pressing the button on my iPhone screen at the completion of each row.

So, here is the final pattern I used.

Cast on 15 stitches using 5mm needles
R1-2: Knit 2 rows
To Zig:
R3: Knit 1, Increase by 1 in the second stitch(knit into the front, then the back of the same stitch), Knit until two stitches remain and then knit these final two together
R4: Knit the first two stitches together, Knit until 2 stitches remain. Increase by 1 in the second-last stitch. Knit the last stitch.
Repeat R3 and R4 x 4 times so your "zig" is 10 rows long.
Knit 2 rows
To Zag:
Do R4, then R3, x 5 times to make a 10 row "zag".
Knit 2 rows.
Repeat until you have the length you want.
Cast off!

This makes a sharper zigzag than the pattern I based it on, as I ommitted the plain knit row between each increase / decrease row. I also did my increases one stitch in from the end instead of on the very first/last stitch, as I found that doing it on the end stitch created divets in the edge. Doing it one stitch in created a smooth edge, but the down side is that it also causes the tips of the zigzag to curl slightly.

It came out GORGEOUS! It feels so soft. The pattern and the yarn work together perfectly. And the look on Apple's face when I gave her the finished scarf made it worth every bit of swearing and frogging to get it just right. She made one last request for tassels at the ends, and she's been wearing it almost daily since (even though it is the middle of the Queensland summer here and horribly hot) and every time she puts it on, she lights up. I can tell it makes her feel like a million bucks. Here's some pics of her modelling it (read:posing). Look at that happy little face.

These are the things that make life (and knitting) worthwhile...

*For those of you, like me, who are new to the jargon, frogging is apparently knitters slang for unravelling your work. i.e. "Rip it. Rip it". Get it?

** I hereby officially coin the term "feltacious" (something suitable for felting) and "auto-feltacious" (something which felts all by itself whether you want it to or not).

1 comment:

  1. Definitely my favourite!!! So does this mean you're now officially termed "old?" Or is knitting the new young-ins craze that's just waiting to catch on?? xxoo liz