Monday, July 4, 2011

Red Yarn at Night, a Knitter's Delight

Red Yarn at Night, a Knitter’s Delight

The Lady-of-the-House can’t imagine being without a skein of red yarn in her stash. If there is a yarn that will start her digging to the bottom of her purse while she is standing at the till in a yarn shop - for any stray coins that will enable her to complete an unplanned purchase – that yarn will mostly likely be red.

She’s been pretty frugal so far this year about relying on her stash. Spring planting and general gardening upkeep with its telltale sign of poison ivy on her weeding hand, where her knitting needles normally rest, deterred her. Not stepping into a yarn shop for her usual quiet moments of perusal has kept her stash down to size, too. (She expects this will change soon). Lancaster is sprinkled with cubbyhole size yarn shops that display the softest and prettiest wool. None are as conveniently close to the Lady-of-the-House as she’d like. Once there, however, she has had some nice chats in knitter’s language with the owners. “I’ll wait outside,” says the Man-of-the-House if he is with her. 

One such red impulse skein, which had been too comfortably lodged in her stash for an incalculable amount of months, was recently dislodged. This is how it happened. 

She was leafing through the spring issue of Spin Off magazine, eyeing its pages of frilly feminine scarves. The subscribers were previously invited to submit a scarf knit in their own handspun following pattern guidelines. This issue features them in a “Handspun Gallery of Helix Scarves.” The beautiful hand-dyed homespun is quite impressive. 

The scarf pattern sparked the interest of the Lady-of-the-House. “Ooo, I’d like to make one of these,” she decided. I’m not proficient enough yet at the wheel to spin yarn as pretty but  . . . there must be a red skein in my stash somewhere?” her intuition told her.

The crimson wool the Lady-of-the-House had purchased, on . . . what day she couldn’t remember, was the right weight (sport weight) and had just enough yardage. She was so pleased she responded out loud with a rhetorical, “Well, how do you like that?” If the Man-of-the-House were in earshot he would have asked her who she was talking to. But he wasn’t.

The title of this post came to her on an evening when the setting sun was glowing a peaceful deep pink through the trees. Red sky at night, a sailor’s delight. On that evening her project was started. 

The camera inaccurately portrays the shade of red wool which is prettier in person.

“This pattern is simple enough to share with my new knitting friends. They will be impressed with how they can do frilly with one trick – wrap and turn,” she thought. Garter stitch (all knit) keeps the project simple. The Lady-of-the-House likes the look and feel of garter stitch. Next to stockinette, garter stitch is far more practical than conventional pattern makers give it credit for. 

Several years back she knit the yoke of William’s baby cardigan in garter stitch, keeping the sleeves and body in stockinette. It’s to be handed down to baby Joseph. 

Frilly Scarf Pattern

CO – Cast on
K – knit

With sport weight (240 yards) try size 5 or 6 straight needles, knitting a swatch or two for gauge, until you settle on a fabric that has the tension you like.

CO 24. K a row

K8 – wrap n’ turn – K to end of needle
K4 – wrap n’ turn – K to end of needle
K across all 24

Repeat the three rows until the scarf is the length you like.
Knit an extra row as the last row. Bind off. Weave in ends.

The set of three rows is easy to remember after it is repeated a few times. You can visually check where you are by examining any wrapped stitches on your row or a previous row. If you skip or repeat a row on occasion (because the telephone rings, the baby is crying, or a pot is boiling over) and forget where you left off - there is no need to stress – and probably no need to rip. Unlike the accuracy required of a sweater, a skipped or repeated row in this scarf will be imperceivable. You are making wedges on either side of the scarf. The wedges create the frill. Keep knitting.  

How to Wrap and Turn
Rows K8 and K4 are your short rows. At the end of each short row: wrap and turn.

With working yarn behind your needle slip the next stitch purl-wise to the right needle. Bring yarn forward.
Return slipped stitch to left needle.
Turn work.

For instance:
K8, slip the 9th purl-wise onto the right-hand needle, bring yarn forward (hold yarn low enough so you can insert the tip of your needle to) slip the 9th back onto the left-hand needle. Turn the work and knit 8 back to the end of your needle. Do the same with K4. The wrapped stitches will be knit when you knit across all 24. The Lady-of-the-House gives a bit of a tug on the working yarn when knitting the first stitch after a turn.

She started another “wrap n’ turn” scarf in peacock blue. One must use up one’s stash. Do you see how she has wound her ball so that it unwinds from the inside?

Fingering weight is ideal when making a small scarf that can be worn indoors as an accessory. The Lady-of-the-House chose to work with a thicker yarn - sport weight - because she couldn’t resist the call on her curiosity to be finished with the project sooner. If you are patient and don’t mind working on size 1 or 2 needles, here are the numbers:  30 – 10 – 5. 

For Fingering Weight (yardage 350)
CO 30. K a row
K10 – wrap n’ turn – K to end of needle
K5  - wrap n’ turn – K to end of needle
K across all 30

Until next time,
Karen Andreola


  1. I think this scarf is adorable! I haven't been much of a scarf person, but the frilly on this one changes my mind. Thank you for your continuous encouragements and reminding me to take time for "mother culture".
    God's blessings to you and your family,
    Diane from California

  2. Diane, How nice to receive a compliment on a scarf from one who is not a scarf person. Thank you.

    Mittens and sweaters have been my "thing" but my interest is turning toward small scarves. They make nice gifts and don't have to be knit quite as long as the one pictured.

    The blue is for (dare I mention) a Christmas gift.
    Karen A.

  3. These scarves are gorgeous! Maybe this winter, I'll get to sit down and knit something like this. They're so lovely

  4. I am like you and love to knit. Although I do not have extra yarn around. I love the scarf. I will have to go get some yarn.
    Thank you for sharing. Clarice

  5. Karen,
    Thanks for the inspiring post.I was impressed with these scarfs in Spin-off as well.They look like they are simple enough for me to try,novice knitter that I am.Just might be the project to take camping with me.

  6. Karen,
    I am also planning to knit several Christmas gifts this year. Th efrilly scarf is quite pretty, and I have someone in mind already who would enjoy one. Thank you for the pattern.


  7. I think that you must be a kindred spirit because I am finding out that we have many of the same interests. I am new to homeschooling and have just finished reading A Pocketful of Pinecones and A Charlotte Mason Companion (I am starting this a second time now to really study it). I also love knitting and have been learning to spin as well! Thanks so much for sharing. It is so motivating to me!

  8. Karen,

    Thank you for the pattern. I love to knit, though my knitting is quite simple. I love the look of the scarf!

    Have a delightful day!

  9. What a stunning scarf. Hmmmm do I use my new yearn for socks or this scarf? Such a hard decision now. [o= Thank you soooooo much for sharing the pattern. These kind of projects are so much fun. And not too hot to knit during the summer either. Anything red is perfect and I can totally understand splurging on red yarn when shopping. I had to chuckle when you said the man of the house stepped out when the woman of the house went into the yarn shop. That would happen in real life with my hubby and me. [o=

    Blessings and ((HUGS))

  10. Thanks for these instructions ...I'm not a very accomplished knitter but I want to try to get better at it. Oddley enough my 12 year old son is very good at reading and understanding the instructions. I go to him when I mess up and need some help!

  11. Oh Karen, thank you! This is a lovely and simple pattern! I'm busy making scarves and other goodies for Christmas presents at the moment. I get to be creative and make some lovely things and at the same time we save money and budget out for Christmas! Yeah! Hubby doesn't even complain at my (frugal)yarn purchases if they are for presents as he has come to realise that this is good for me to stay creative and also spreads the cost of the holidays! I can make lovely and simple presents from small amounts of bargain yarn for FAR less than I could buy something suitable for the same person. Mother Culture at its best!!

  12. I absolutely love your title! Such a fun thought, makes me want to knit, at the moment I'm working on a crochet hat but will be back to try the scarf. Blessings, Kimberly