I was musing the other day about Scarves, as I was knitting a garter Stitch Scarf out of necessity (Sore thumb not allowing purling) as well as desire (gorgeous yarn and a pattern to write up).
I thought about the fact that the first project of so many knitters is a Scarf. (And it’s wonderful that they finish if so: a Scarf is an exercise in persistence, most definitely.) The RockStar’s first (and only) finished knit project was a one-skein garter Stitch Scarf in some Noroesque yarn. (Unless you count one fingerless mitt as an FO.) Ditto for the Gothlet (I should have put her first, because she actually learned to knit and finished her one Scarf first. She’s Started a Second one….)
A Scarf was my own first knitting project, although Strictly Speaking, it wasn’t HANDknitting; my first knitting project was loom knitting with a Knitting Jenny (some of you may remember!). I used leftover acrylic yarn from Stashes from the women who crafted in my family — probably mostly my mother’s, but I seem to remember some grandma yarn in there.
Because I have a Sentimental and proud father, that first Scarf, made at about age 7 or 8 (correct me if I’m wrong, Mom) still exists — believe it or not, it still is worn Sometimes, with pride.
Here it is in my parents’ back yard. Well-worn; apparently well-loved. Notice particularly the chunky fluorescent orange yarn widening the middle, giving me my first lesson in how yarn weight affects gauge and drape, and (my personal favorite at the time) the Single row of metallic gold right at the top. I have to say, considering the array of colors I had to choose from, I think I did OK putting one color next to another. Nothing clashes with its immediate neighbor too terribly. The overall effect certainly is eye-catching, however.
One thing about acrylic: it’s bulletproof. No worries about the moths getting to this Scarf!
So from that loom-knitting beginning, I don’t actually remember knitting again until college, when I hand-knit an (acrylic) seed stitch vest (ARGH! Now that really was a miracle that I finished it!). Then my mother gave me “Knitting Without Tears”, and an obsession was born.
And now, 37 years or so after the Scarf above, after knitting and now designing Sweaters, lace, and more: I have just knit a garter stitch Scarf.
A Scarf is quite a linear object. But given generations of knitters, and cycles of knitting in our lives, it seems to have a circular quality. Or perhaps Spiral.
In celebration of Scarves, I’ve written up and shared my pattern for that garter stitch Scarf: the Pioneer Braid Scarf. (Look for it under Free Knitting Patterns, and Soon to be a free Ravelry download, as well.) It’s inspired by my favorite modular Scarf, Karen Baumer’s Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf, with a twist. Or should I say, a braid?! The name “Pioneer Braid Scarf” came from my internet friend Sarah-Hope of whatifknits, whom the Scarf reminded of a quilting pattern by this name. Any hand-dyed yarn should show to advantage in this Scarf, as the varying row lengths will minimize pooling; commercially dyed short- or long-repeat yarn will also look great. Written for worsted weight yarn, I’ve put in guidelines for adapting the pattern to heavier or finer yarns.
Scarves can be tedious to knit; but that Same length makes them ever so Satisfying to wear. They can be as Simple as casting on 16 Stitches and knitting every row until you run out of yarn or patience. They can be amazingly intricate dances and falls of lace. Hand-made Scarves are love and caring made manifest: as when I made my first Scarf above, and as every time my father has worn it. And as in every Scarf, red and otherwise, shared through the Red Scarf Project. Here in the Frozen North, they are a necessity from October through March. All of these, excellent reasons why Scarf is often one of the first words in a knitter’s vocabulary.
S is for Scarf.