Monday, May 4, 2009

Scarves, etc....

I make scarves. At a slightest provocation, with whatever yarn I have. Shorty skinny ones for my sons when they were babies and long, thick ones for my husband who loses them. Last year when I rediscovered crocheting I made about seven of them in a furious spurt of activity. Last week I made a Czech glass-bead embellished Noro scarf for my son’s Mr. Bear. I have thirty-one scarves on Ravelry.

I knit them in lace, in 1-1 rib, and everything else in between.

Even if they are always the same - a longish piece of fabric to wrap around one's neck - they are always different: shorter, longer, narrower, wider, bulky, skinny, silky, wooly, scratchy, smooth, unicolor or rainbow. Every one tells a different story, every one made with dedication and love.

But making scarves is not just a simple rectangle of mindless knitting or crochet. There is a method. To look really good yet simple the scarf’s edges have to be neat and straight, the corners at right angle. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right. The slip stitch edging works great for knitting, with crochet you may need a few passes to figure out the best method. The cast on and cast off edges in knitting often stretch and widen - not very attractive. You can call it a design modification or you can try some tricks - smaller needles for the first five or ten (depending on gauge) rows or a tighter cast on and cast off methods.

In crochet my chain is usually too tight when I use the hook required for the gauge, so I use one a size or two up for the beginning chain. Sometimes I use foundation single crochet which is a lot more stretchy. This is very important for crochet scarves made longitudinally where the small amount of tightness multiplied by the length of the scarf results in a big smiley instead of a rectangle.

Once you have the edges figured out and the cast on edge at the right tension, making a scarf is simple and easy. It can be done a few rows or stitches at time or completed at one sitting. Scarves are portable. They can be done mindlessly, although the repetitive stitches of the simplest scarves actually allow you to experience the moment much more fully and as such can be used for meditation.

There is nothing more elegant than an unembellished scarf with even edges and rows and rows of even stitches. It is the essence of knitting, a sample of one’s abilities and a showcase for the intricacies of a pattern or the beauty of a new yarn.

Then there is the triangular kerchief:

And the fabulous curvy or modular crochet scarves:

And I have not even mentioned the imaginative architectural scarves of Lynne Barr!


  1. Your scarves are quite lovely and I enjoyed your personal philosophy on scarf knitting.

  2. I love your blue crochet scarf. I hope I can crochet something like that with practice.