Posted tagged ‘red scarf project’

Not without a star

July 24, 2010

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Pattern: Berlin Scarf by Leah Mitchell
Yarn: Ella Rae Kamelsoft (75% merino, 25% camel), colorway Orange
Needles: U.S. 8 Signature straights

On World Wide Knit In Public Day, as celebrated in Little Rock on June 19, I started this brioche stitch scarf. Beside me was my daughter. Around me were the knitters of Central Arkansas. My fingers quickly fell into the brioche rhythm: slip, yarn over, knit two together. Repeat, pausing every 88 yards to spit-splice the next ball of yarn in, until the scarf is 62″ long. Bind off.

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Wait, that’s not all there is to it. Take the scarf to every faculty meeting and strategic planning meeting for a solid month. Knit through at least three church services. Turn on the automatic brioche stitch reflexive movements portion of the brain in waiting rooms, idling cars, coffeeshops. Knit two or three inches every time a mental health moment is needed.

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Indulge your tactile sense every time you pull the scarf in progress out of its tote bag. Squeeze it. Pull the ribbing gently apart, let it relax back into its compressed state. Stretch it lengthwise just a bit, and watch the stitches even out. Roll it up and let it fill both hands like a miniature cloud.

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Imagine the college student who will open a Valentine’s Day package next winter and pull out five feet of cozy warmth. Wrap it around your child’s neck, and think about how you’d want someone to care for her with gifts of love and time and shelter from the elements if you couldn’t do it. Set it on your shelf next to the other scarves that have give you so much pleasure in the knitting, and look forward to the pleasure of giving.

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There’s no sign in the sky to follow

June 11, 2010

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Pattern: Reversible Braids Scarf by Bobbi Patterson
Yarn: RYC Classic Soft Lux
Needles: U.S. 7 Signature straights

Test knitting. It’s when someone has designed a knitted object, written out a pattern, and needs other people to follow the pattern to make sure all the directions work. The fun of test knitting is being part of the pattern creation process and getting a peek at a pattern before it’s released to the general public. The work of it is that it’s knitting on a deadline.

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There’s a group on Ravelry called Free Pattern Testers. I’ve never been a part of it, but I happened across a solicitation for test knitters when a Rav friend happened to mark the unreleased pattern as a favorite. Scarf? Well, you know my passion for scarves. Reversible cables? Something I’ve long been meaning to try. I contacted the designer with an offer to test knit for her, and shortly thereafter the draft pattern was in my e-mail inbox.

Reversible cables employ a clever trick to get the cable to pop on both sides; they’re actually done in ribbing rather than in knit on a purl ground. I loved getting the hang of how they worked. The pattern had a definitional error that I caught along with many of my fellow test knitters, and Bobbi had a revised pattern out to us within a few days. Then it was just a matter of knitting to the end of my yarn. In her original, the designer had used a plied worsted yarn. My version was a bit heavier and used a single-ply yarn with a metallic accent. No problem getting these cables to pop, though.

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You can’t see it in these photos, but I missed crossing some cables — once consistently all the way across a row, and once on only one of the three cable panels. I think of those errors as giving the scarf character. When a mosque is built, the workers are said to make at least one deliberate mistake, because only God should be perfect. Perfection can be exhilarating, but even a scarf riddled with mistakes will keep its owner warm. And I’m willing to bet the eventual charitable recipient of this experiment in reversibility will never notice that his scarf isn’t flawless.

We can dance if we want to

May 20, 2010

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Pattern: City Skyline Scarf by hollisqueen
Yarn: Lion Brand Lion Cashmere Blend (72% merino, 15% nylon, 13% cashmere), colorway 113 (discontinued)
Needles: U.S. 10 Signature straights

Sometimes it’s all about the yarn. Especially yarn that you dug out of a bargain bin and rescued from dusty, tangled obscurity. Yarn that called to you even though the last thing you needed was more yarn. “Look at me here among the fun fur and acrylic,” it whimpered. “I’ve been here the last three times you’ve come by. Nobody wants me. You’re my last hope. I know I can be beautiful again. I just need a little love.”

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I’ve always told my students to embrace the disreputable. But it can be a risk. You give your time and your effort to something that everybody else has turned up their noses at. And sometimes you get hurt. Sometimes what you’ve tried so hard to love isn’t worthy, and that can be hard to admit after you kill yourself to make it work.

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But oh, when it works … there’s nothing more glorious. If you could feel this scarf through the computer, you would never want to let it go. Light as air, soft as a cloud, squishy and cozy as your childhood teddy bear. And the alternating columnar lace and garter stitch patterning is sophisticated enough for a Manhattan executive while remaining warm and inviting.

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It’s a lucky college student who will this scarf next February. From yarn nobody wanted comes the perfect luxurious gift to spread love in the world.

Teach me some melodious sonnet

May 15, 2010

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Pattern: Lace Rib Scarf by Kay Gardiner
Yarn: Louisa Harding Hulda (50% wool, 30% acrylic, 20% linen), colorway 11
Needles: U.S. 10 Signature metal straights

I’ve become a broken record. Charity scarves modeled by adorable kindergartener. You’ve seen it before. And by golly, you’ll see it again.

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When I see 200-400 yards of bulky or worsted yarn, I get idea bubbles over my head filled with simple lacy, ribbed, or cabled scarves. I want to pull out my beautiful Signature Needle Arts stiletto-tipped straight needles, memorize a line or two of instructions, and just knit whenever and wherever I am. This particular yarn was picked up on closeout just on the basis of the beautiful color. I cast on almost as soon as I got it home — simple mistake rib for a unisex but profoundly textural scarf with a glorious squish factor and a rustic crunch. And then I didn’t stop until I had exhausted three balls and reached 76 inches.

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It’s my second scarf for this year’s Red Scarf Project. And I must admit that I’m aching to cast on the next one. Tomorrow I’ll be speaking to an adult Sunday School class at a local church about knitting and spirituality, and I think I ought to be knitting as I talk. This is exactly the kind of thing that would be perfect. But then, it’s perfect just about anywhere.

That’s my speed and direction

September 4, 2009

Pattern: Enjoyable Rib Scarf by Anne K.
Yarn: Yarn Bee Bamboospun (77% bamboo, 23% polyamide), red colorway
Needles: U.S. 9 bamboo straights

Things are not good at my workplace. No, I’m in no danger of losing my job. But the control I have over the conditions of my job seems to be dissipating.

At times like these, knitting is truly redemptive. Especially when you are knitting for someone who has not had as much control over their lives as I have enjoyed.

My first Red Scarf Project scarf for the year, and I hope not the last, is the therapeutic Enjoyable Rib Scarf in plush, cushy Bamboospun. The fabric produced by this combination of yarn and pattern feels like chenille. It’s comfort food for the neck. You just can’t help stroking it, burying your fingers in it.

The Red Scarf Project sends Valentine’s Day care packages to orphans attending college. Could there be any more perfect charitable cause for me? I work closely with college students. I adore and feel very parental toward my students. I love my children, and my highest ambition for them is that they feel loved and valued.

Life is unpredictable. Sometimes you have to ride the waves; sometimes your head is barely above water. A little thing — a handmade scarf, a warm embrace, created out of love — can be all you have to hang onto. Each stitch is a tiny moment of control. Each gift is a relinquishing of the need to have control.

A fire that slowly fades till dawn

September 14, 2008
From Toxophily

Pattern: Scrunchable Scarf by Susan McConne
Yarn: Bamboo Spun (77% bamboo, 23% polyamide)
Needle: U.S. 9 wooden straights

I finished my contribution for the Red Scarf Project in the Show Barn at the beautiful Winthrop Rockefeller Center atop Petit Jean Mountain, alternately standing up and sitting down as my freshman students tried to name all 100 of their classmates.  But always knitting, knitting, knitting toward freedom!

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The finished scarf is about as cuddly a creation as you could imagine.  Knit at a loose gauge, the texture is like chenille, but lightweight.  I can’t stop fondling the fabric and thrusting it into the hands of passersby for them to feel.  “It’s bamboo!” I exclaim, to generally puzzled looks.

As soon as I can get some gifty items to accompany it, the scarf will be on its way to the Orphan Foundation of America to become part of their Red Scarf Project.  Godspeed, soft scrunchable bamboo red scarf — may you warm the neck and forward the fashion of a worthy college student this Valentine’s Day!

High hopes we have for the future

August 31, 2008

It’s taken me a week to decompress from the Ravelympics madness.  There were medals to hand out every night of the Games — hundreds as the closing ceremonies approached.  The pressure of the mitts and the medals overwhelmed every thought.  Once the final winners stepped off the podium clutching their Bobicus ravatar and their precious badges, I turned my attention to some easier knitting and some neglected relaxation.

Another ballband dishcloth in reverse colors from the Ravelympic competitor (dubbed “Code of the Amateur” in homage to John Gielgud’s patrician gentleman in Chariots of Fire) is nearing completion, and I’ve hit the second to the last stripe on the final pocket hat of my planned trio (Rav link), which was only a headband a week ago.  Time to knit for somebody other than myself.

Last year I donated my Moguls scarf to the Red Scarf Project, a popular program run by the Orphan Foundation of America on behalf of college-age foster children.  These kids don’t have parents to send them care packages and all the handmade love that goes with them.  So knitters and crocheters around the country send in scarves along with collegiate-type goodies as fall approaches, and the packages are distributed as Valentine’s Day treats.

There are always more fantastic, irresistible scarves to knit than there are people in one’s life who need scarves.  So it’s a gift to the knitter, really — an excuse to create a scarf or two a year that go to worthy recipients we don’t have to scrounge up out of our own friends and acquaintances.

Now it’s the Red Scarf Project for Valentine’s Day, of course, but also to signify that the scarves are meant to be appropriate for men or women — red being a unisex color.  The scarves don’t have to be red, but they shouldn’t be delicate wisps of pastel lace suitable only for draping around the neck of Clara Bow.  Red just happens to be my favorite color, though, and as I browse yarn sales and chain store bins and online inventories, it’s very difficult not to tip a few skeins of red worsted into my shopping basket with the offhand thought that I could make a Red Scarf out of them.

I had a yarn or two in mind as I browsed scarf patterns this afternoon, but when I went back to the stash nook and actually pulled out the drawers, I saw one of those impulse purchases — a bamboo yarn I bought at Hobby Lobby this summer.  I don’t have too much Yarn Bee (Hobby Lobby’s store brand) in my collection — it’s mostly acrylic, and there’s not that much call for acrylic in my knitting these days — but I did enjoy making Cady Gray’s rainbow scarf out of their chenille, and when I see something different like this bamboo, it’s hard to resist sampling.  Especially when it’s red, and that perennial shopping excuse pops unbidden to mind: “I could make a Red Scarf with it.”

The yarn is called Bamboo Spun, and I haven’t noticed it on the shelves since the visit when I bought it.  It’s not in the Ravelry database, either; I need to visit the Hobby Lobby group and see if anybody else managed to snag one, or if it was some experimental release that I just happened upon.  It’s worsted weight as far as I can tell; a fuzzy, slubby single-ply made of 77% bamboo and 23% polyamide.  The label lists the suggested needle size as “5mm (US 5, UK 5),” which of course is ridiculous; 5 mm is a #8 needle in the U.S. system.  I started with a #9 wooden needle (metal would probably be better, but I have a habit of working gift scarves on handmade wooden needles — it’s a love thing), and the fabric is quite drapey but not excessively loose.  Having never worked with bamboo before, I don’t know whether its hand is unusual or typical; it’s very unelastic, but not squeaky or abrasive.

The pattern is the Scrunchable Scarf, an extremely simple stitch pattern that produces a reversible faux-rib effect.  Its ease of memorization (k2 p1 on both sides, with a selvedge stitch that’s slipped wyif at the beginning and knit at the end) means that it will make perfect movie and class knitting.  I’ve seen plenty of beautiful examples with tight-twist, high-sheen yarns that create sharp, distinct stitches; mine will not be one of them.  But I think this pattern in this fuzzy, sloppy yarn has its own charms — a chunky, homemade feel that’s cozy rather than high fashion.

I cranked out about 8.5 inches this afternoon.  Can’t wait to have a soft, swaying bamboo Red Scarf to package up and send away to its unknown recipient with all my love.