Thursday, 30 December 2010

Thoughts on "neckwear"

Well, all the scarves got knitted in time for Christmas. I had planned to pick a favorite and talk about it, but in the end it's hard to select just one. What I really enjoyed was the process of choosing colours to suit each person and working with colours and styles I would never have made for myself. The Lydia would completely overwhelm me but looks fantastic on it's trendy 6'1" recipient. Ice Maiden colours are beautiful, but look best on a blonde, I like working with green, but don't wear it myself ... All the knits are featured on ravelry and I will be adding photos as I receive them.

So instead, I think I'll do some top tips for scarves.

Edge Stitches
1. Edge stitches
They can really make a difference - giving a nice smooth edge, if that's the effect you are after.
On ribbed scarves slip the first stitch on each row (both sides) to give a good effect.
Or try an edge of 2 stiches knitted in garter stitch (knit on both sides) - works with most stitches.

Yarn Striping Itself, Beautifully

2. Self-striping yarns
They turn simple styles into something special - both the knitting process and the finished result. If the pattern is simple I find self-striping yarns keep it interesting - I keep knitting to see what colour will come next and what the effect will be - and then suddenly the whole thing is finished! Plus, each completed knit is slightly different. I wind the self-striping yarns before I knit them, to get an idea of the colour sequence and to decide which end I want to start with. If there are any sections I really don't like I just leave them out and rejoin the yarn.

3. Snoods/cowls knitted in the round
This way they are more versatile and can be worn straight off the needles - no seams required and completely reversible, giving you two effects for half the knitting.

Bias Scarf - with Edge Stitches
4. Knitting on the bias
Produces effective results for not too much extra effort. I find it useful to use a split stitch marker on the right side and to check my number of stitches after approx. every 10th row and then move the marker up. That way if I make a mistake I know how far back I have to unpick (grrrr).
Oh, and it eliminates the need for a swatch. No need to calculate in advance how wide you want it, how many stitches per inch, etc. You just cast on and just keep increasing until you get to a width you like and then you start going straight up.

5. Bigger needles
I find knitting with needles 1-2 sizes larger than the recommended size and using a textured stitch produces a nice light, but "scrunchy" knit. It also makes the yarn go further and requires less knitting.

6. Blocking tip
This is my favourite (you may have already thought of it, but it was my presto! moment). Use a waffel towel for blocking - it gives you a grid to work on and you don't have to keep measuring to make sure it's straight!

Waffle guy in the snow!
Oh, and we still have snow!

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