Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Story of the Woodsy Scarf

I dug through my yarn stash in a flurry new year’s resolution energy. 2011 will be the year of knitting! I thought.  I had that frantic-crazy creativity vibe going. The kind of vibe that feels like a creative monster inside saying (imagine Cookie Monster's voice): Must knit. NOW. What I found in my bin of yarn were mostly strays —mismatched balls of yarn leftover from previous projects—and not enough yardage to start anything substantial.  Then I came upon two skeins of pine-colored wool. The dark green strands were flecked with golden brown, reminiscent of evergreen branches and the forest floor in winter, covered with moss and dried leaves.  I knew this yarn would make a warm, manly scarf for my husband. 

I rounded up a pair of bamboo knitting needles, curled up on the couch, and cast on.  My seat by the windows was cool, but the clear sunlight that poured in gave off the illusion of warmth. I knit through a Joan Rivers documentary before deciding that the scarf was too skinny. I ripped back two hours of work. So this is knitting. Hours of work undone in mere seconds. To be fair, I’ve had to rip back crochet work too, but as I’ve gained more experience with a hook my undoing has occurred less frequently. I began again. 32 stitches cast on. My fingers moved clumsily through two knit, then two purl stitches. I struggled to find a rhythm. In crocheting my fingers know what to do. I don’t have to think; they move deftly on their own to yarn over and move the hook in and out. With knitting I felt like my fingers and mind weren't quite working together yet. 

I knitted the bulk of the scarf on a road trip to Knoxville with Korey. We stopped at a rest area near the Tennessee border and found out we were approaching a snowstorm. Twenty miles away it was clear, but we’d have to make it through the snow before we got to the calm. Back in the car, I clutched the wool and bamboo in my tight, unmoving fists as the road ahead disappeared. We followed the soft circles of tail lights ahead of us. We were tense, cursing, and scared. Just when we were about to pull off and wait it out, we realized the worst was behind us. Slowly my fingers uncurled as we passed out of the snow-filled mountains. Looping yarn around my needle soothed me and took my mind off the dangerous conditions we had made it through. Knit two. Inhale. Purl two. Exhale. We were both so relieved to arrive safely at our friends’ house. I spent many hours that weekend cuddled up on their couch, knitting in front of a Christmas tree fire that crackled as the pine needles burned. 

I continued working on this scarf after we came back home. It took me a very long time to knit 200-something yards, but that made finishing feel even better.

That’s the story of the woodsy knit scarf, which is my first wearable knit item. I made scarves in stockinette stitch before I realized that they would curl up on themselves so much that they’d be unwearable. Even after I saw that they rolled up into tight cylinders, I still thought that I could block them flat. It took a girl at the bus stop to set me straight. I was crocheting. She told me that she knit and when she first started she made lots of scarves that rolled up “like little socks.” She said she thought she could block them or iron them out, but nothing worked. That's how I figured out that ribbed scarves work better!  

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So, any of you knitters out there, do you have any advice for a newbie? What are the tricks you learned or mistakes you made when you first started out? I need all the help I can get!

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Pattern: Cast on 32 stitches. Worked a 2x2 rib.

Yarn: Wool of the Andes (worsted)

Needles: US Size 7

Made for: Korey

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P.S.  Don’t worry about me and crochet. We’re still best friends. I’ve got lots of crochet projects in the works! And I'm very excited because I'm teaching one of my coworkers to crochet. Spread the love!


  1. Yes! Keep spreading that crochet love. Now about this knitting creation -- dang, you nailed it. The colors are beautiful and your knitting and purling looks good. I think the ripping out business would frustrate me to no end. All that work. Crocheting is a quick fix.

  2. Very nice...I love green!

    And yes crochet is where my heart belongs, LOL!

  3. A very handsome scarf for a handsome guy!!

  4. This is so lovely! And K looks just great in it. I love the story that goes along with it. Yes, I used to have to rip out so, so much. I sometimes still do. Tips? Just be sure to work on things that you love with fibers you love so that when it gets hard you are still motivated. Also, take full advantage of all the great knitting videos on You Tube to show you how to do different types of stitches.

  5. Congrats on the scarf it looks great... and it sounds like it must be extra special given the trials you had to endure while you were knitting!

  6. Beautiful. I think it's wonderful that you want to work on your knitting - there are far more patterns out there for knitters, and more options especially if your recipient is a man.

  7. All of your work is so neat and straight and flawless, and your knitting is no exception. He will have that beautiful scarf for years to come. Love it!

  8. Oh, it looks great.

    I'm itching to knit. I need a few extra hours added to the day.

  9. So are you going to be available for knitting lessons, too? You'll def. be a pro by the time I get used to crocheting ;) I'm pretty excited about the hat you're helping me make!

  10. I still have no knitting skills...maybe one of these days. :)


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