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One of the questions that often arises for me is how to make the best use of handspun, bulky, and novelty yarns

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These yarns are often expensive, detailed, and bulky, and there is often not enough to make anything of any great size. I want to make something with these yarns, large enough to be useful, and that shows the artistry in their making.

I find that many crafters approach knitting from the perspective of a spinner or approach spinning from the perspective of a knitter. I think spinners who come to knitting often want ways to use their handspun yarns and want to knit something very simple, which makes sense when using many novelty yarns, but the detail of the yarns can get lost in the stitches.

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Knitters who come to spinning often want simple yarns in fabulous colours and fibres to use for more knitting focussed projects.

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I have tried both, and both have appeal, but I would like to propose a third way – there are techniques and styles and projects that can make use of beautiful handspun yarns of every description and show them to advantage, and here I must confess that many of my ideas in this area are heavily influenced by Debbie New.

I bought both these yarns from Milkyrobot’s Etsy Store

Girls Throw Snow (40 yards / 36.5m):

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And Earthworm (46 Yards / 42m):

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When they arrived I was really unsure about what to do with them. I was worried that they were too intricate to show all their detail and too short to make much if knit by themselves. Every centimetre of these yarns is beautiful, and I would hate to hide whole sections of them behind cables or on the back side of something.

For the Girls Throw Snow yarn I mixed it with some grey fingering yarn I had lying around that matched one of the accent colours, and knit it in an irregular version of Debbie New’s squiggle lace using large needles (pattern):

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For the Earthworm yarn I wanted to make things more interesting and combined several yarns:

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In a long strip:

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That I crocheted together into a scarf at the end using Debbie New’s labyrinth knitting technique (Ravelry link):

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I especially like the way the mohair lace weight makes transparent sections.

These projects show these yarns as I wanted them to be shown and have enough knitterly interest to keep mine.

I could probably be induced to produce a pattern for the Earthworm scarf too, if enough of you leave comments on my blog here.

I feel like I am coming out of some knitting doldrums, and since all of my projects seemed hard last week I pulled out a bit of hand painted mohair of questionable provenance. It was sold to me on E-Bay as Colinette. Really I have no reason to disbelieve it as it came in a lot with other more identifiable skeins, but it came pre-wound without tags, so the colourway’s name etc. eludes me.

I am knitting — wait for it — a stockinette stitch scarf, but the colours are pretty:

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The colours remind of Stravinsky‘s The Firebird (I grew up in a household aware of ballet above many other, perhaps more sensible, things). Here is a painting by Léon Bakst to give you an idea:

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I feel such nostalgia for the early 20th Century avant garde; it always appeals to me. In this particular example, I especially like the tuft of armpit hair.

I always like the the avant garde from the 19th Century too — especially Chopin. That may come back to ballet again and spending hours each week through my childhood in a room with someone playing music on a piano: Chopin featured heavily.

I am still kind of recovering from my prescribed, deadlined, focussed knitting of the summer and am currently knitting like Bridget Jones eats when she has a hangover — I am working on whatever indulgent thing I feel like and exploring the more exciting aspects of instant gratification.

Here is one of my recent creations:

It was made using this yarn I spun myself.

I just cast on a multiple of stitches and knit it up using my favourite cable pattern (see here and here).

I still have a bit left and think I will likely make a scarf using my Wisp pattern.

If anyone is interested, I could probably be induced to provide a pattern, just let me know in the comments.

Here is the almost final form for the earthworm scarf:

I like the way the lace weight sections are transparent, and the earthworm yarn from Milkyrobot was an absolute delight to knit. Every inch was interesting.

I made some kind of gauge error. I am not sure precisely where, but the scarf is not the size I calculated for.

I wore it today, and I found that the particular combination of length and weight doesn’t make a particularly wearable scarf because I don’t like the way it looks draped around my neck and it doesn’t stay wrapped.

I tried crocheting the ends together and making a long loop to go around my neck twice, and I think that is the way I will go with.

I was inspired to try to loop idea by Yokoo‘s cowls like this one.

I started knitting this scarf while we were in Kansas in August. The yarn came from the Newton Beadery in Newton Kansas. I couldn’t tell it was a yarn shop at all from the street, but then I saw the crochet friendly yarn shop sticker from Interweave on the door, and I knew.

This yarn was on the clearance shelf, and it looked so much like snow that I couldn’t resist. It is Berroco Softy (52% DuPont Tactel® Nylon, 48% Nylon, 208 yards[190m], Snow Bunny 290).

I started knitting several scarves with the yarn and the fringe kept becoming more prominent, until the fringe was the scarf.

I am listing this scarf on my Parallax Knitting Esty Store here. The Ravelry listing is here.


I think the pattern is so fun and has the potential to use many kinds of yarn, I would especially like to see it in a handspun novelty yarn. I plan to write it out soon and make it available.

Here are some pictures of the scarf I knit with the yarn I spun from the Pixie batts from Evonne Wee’s Etsy shop:

I am very pleased with it. I have listed it in my new Parallax Knitting Etsy store (here).

I didn’t realize that usernames mattered on Etsy, so I created a new one (my old one is still there too).

I am starting to list some of the things I make as there are really only so many scarves / hats / sweaters / gloves / etc. a person can reasonably have.

It’s beautiful and squidgy, if no one buys it I will definately not feel bad about adding it to the rotation.

Isn’t Vancouver beautiful?

On the needles is a scarf of a sort. I need to use up a ball of yarn that I made up when I started knitting. I wanted to do a project like Kaffe Fassett’s Persian poppies waistcoat (non-Ravelry link for an idea of what I mean).

I really didn’t understand about concepts like gauge or yarn weight or anything, so I just used bits of all the yarns I liked. The project did not really turn out like I expected it to (try not to be surprised), and the ball of bits of yarn sat in my basket for several years.

I had a bit of a brainwave after I made a design for a knit boa, and decided to make a multi-coloured one:

I quite like it. If anyone has any great ideas about what to do with the corresponding blue one, please share.

Pattern for the boa will be forthcoming soon.

Here is the earthworm scarf with the knitting completed, but the seams not sewn:

I plan to sew it up as I designed it in Debbie New’s labyrinth knitting technique, but I am quite smitten with it as is and kind of wish I could keep it like this.

I have some time now to work on whatever my little heart desires, and my heart has alighted on this scarf, which I haven’t had a chance to work on in several months.

I have swatched with this yarn several times now, and I wasn’t sure exactly how to make the most of it.

I was frustrated with with working the stripes in intarsia and wasn’t really pleased with the results, so I ripped it out and tried again:

I like this so much better. It compliments the texture of the yarn better somehow.


When I was a child, one of my favourite stories involved a prince who fell in love with a commoner who would not marry him until he had a trade, so he learned to weave cloth. They ruled for several years, but he didn’t know how people really lived in his country, so he dressed as a poor man and went out into the city to see for himself.

He was taken by a group of priests to a cave and forced to work with others as slaves. He found an old friend in the cave and together they made a very precious piece of cloth that would only be suitable for the queen, and in it he wove the story of his capture and where he and the others were being held.

This was done in such a cunning way that the priests would not be able to understand the message, but the queen would. Whereupon she rescued everyone.

This story mesmerized me — I loved the idea of a message in the cloth, and I was thinking of how to do something like that myself.

This is my scarf with a secret message in progress:

So far the message is really secret as you can’t see the way I have rendered Morse code into the stitch pattern, but I will be more explicit and post symbol charts for this particular rendering in a few days.

I will now leave you with a final picture and a note: it is an Armenian story called Anaeet.

August 2017
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