dusktreader knits

January 16, 2010

Experiments in Design: Scarf 2.0

Filed under: Projects — Tags: , , , , , — dusktreader @ 6:14 pm

Here’s my latest finished object, a bow-knot scarf:

Blue and yellow scarf

I used this project to experiment with some design practice.  I plan to make a whole series of mini scarves like this, experimenting with size, shape, stitch pattern, construction and anything else I can vary. At the end, I’ll have gotten to know the pattern inside and out, and have a series of fashionable accessories to keep me warm at work. Win.

(I’m going to get pretty heavy into the technical details here, so if that’s not your thing, feel free to ooh and ah over the photos and move along.)

I wanted something more complicated than a regular rectangular scarf to practice on, and less complicated than a sweater which has more than one piece, needs to fit much more precisely, and would take too long to be really helpful for my learning experience. I started by finding a very basic pattern to use as a jumping off point, and making it without any changes of my own so I’d understand exactly what I was doing when I made my own customizations. This is version 1.0:

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The pattern is all done in garter-stitch and is a simple, quick knit. I then tried to reimagine it as many ways as I could. For my first attempt, the most major change I made was using a different stitch pattern. I’ve substituted stitch patterns before, and for some patterns it can be a really simple change with hardly any reworking necessary. For this one, I had to figure out how to make the increases and decreases while keeping the stitch pattern: you can’t just do it as is or the edges will look uneven due to the extra stitch you’re throwing in there.

What I changed:

  • The stitch pattern: I wanted something in two colours, so I went with a two-colour slip-stitch pattern from my Vogue stitch dictionary. I maintained two stitches at each edge as a selvage stitch in order to accommodate for the increases and decreases at each end of the scarf.
  • Instead of dividing up the stitches and placing half on a stitch holder to make the loop, I decreased the stitches by half, made the first side of the loop, and then picked up the stitches from the base and knit the other side of the loop. The effect is pretty much the same as far as finished product, but I wanted to see which one I liked better. I think I like this way because I don’t mind picking up stitches and this meant less time working with stitches on a stitch holder, which can be awkward.
  • I made the loop shorter, because the ribbed loop on my first scarf stretched quite a bit vertically, became too big, and looked uneven. This stitch pattern probably won’t stretch as much, but I still thought it could be smaller.
  • I realized as I was going that the ribbing was there not just for stretchiness, but also skinniness. The skinny part makes a nice notch for the scarf to hitch on so that the loop doesn’t slide around. So I had to increase the stitches after the loop was made by a few to get a wider body on the scarf and acheive the same effect. No biggie.

What I learned:

  • The stitch pattern is reversible! It didn’t absolutely have to be for this project, since the wrong side isn’t meant to show, but I found wearing the first scarf that it does show at some points. And I just love reversible stitch patterns, and since stitch dictionaries often don’t indicate which stitches are reversible, I love discovering them.
  • This is an interesting pattern, in that you knit it one way (bottom to top) but the stitches will be worn both horizontally and vertically. The ends are worn vertically, the same direction as when you’re knitting. But the part that goes around your neck is worn horizontally, perpendicular to the way it was knit. It’s therefore important to choose a stitch pattern that looks good both ways. This got me thinking about all kinds of stitches that would look good when turned sideways after they were knit. There may be some sideways-knit scarves in my future. This one looks really good sideways:
  • Close-up of blue and yellow scarfI like the crooked vertical lines that travel up, a feature that isn’t as noticeable when viewed as it’s originally knit.

What I would do differently:

  • Find a more camoflauged way to pick up stitches for the loop. I don’t mind the pinched effect, but it doesn’t match the other side since there are no stitches picked up there.
  • Consider using a yarnover as an increase stitch for a more decorative border.
  • Make the loop and corresponding notch on the other side a tad longer: It isn’t long enough and that pulls on the neck, making it bunch a little bit instead of laying flat across my neck. It does stay on better than version 1.0, however.

I think it turned out pretty well, all considered. The two ends are different sizes–somehow my tension changed from one end to the other–so I’ll have to block it.

Version 3.0 will feature a change in the shape of the two ends, and possibly be tied instead using the loop construction.

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