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What I Am Talking About

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Dear Ann,
It seems that perhaps I was a bit unclear in my fevered description of how I was planning to make the Gap-inspired Runcible Sleeve Scarf, which I’m also calling the Foxy Bob Cratchit Scarf. (I don’t think a project can have too many whimsical names, do you?) Several people left comments saying, basically, “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” I’m happy to explain myself. But first I have to clear up one other thing.
I Don’t Knit All The Time
One thing people say to me, and about me, is that I surely must knit all day long. I think they say this because my projects are so large, and fairly frequent. When I hear this, I think about it and ask myself, “Do I knit too much? Am I neglecting the more, shall we say, ACTIVE, or VITAL parts of life, in favor of cranking a few more feet of knitting?” And if I’m not knitting all the time, how can we explain the quantities produced?
I don’t knit all the time. During the 8-10 hours that people with office jobs are in their offices, I rarely knit at all. I have other stuff to do, and most of the time I am happy to do it instead of knitting.
But I think I do knit more than other people, and it’s because of my overarching worldview. I look at the world and say, “Could I be knitting during this?” And life serves up so many YES answers to this question.
Let’s take yesterday, for example. Here is a snapshot of Friday, November 21, 2008:
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The yarn is Noro Silk Garden in shades 269 (white/natural) and 267 (taupe/black).
Now, granted that Friday is my Big TV Day. A non-Friday usually yields only a late-night hour of Stewart and Colbert. (Joseph has forbidden me to knit while he does homework, which is UNFAIR WORKING CONDITIONS in any civilized nation, but I comply.) And yesterday was unusually larded with sit n’ wait type of activities such as getting the tires rotated on the car and the metal rotated in a child’s mouth. But since I had my knitting with me, I managed to get through almost two skeins of the second half of the Runcible Sleeve Scarf. I was so far ahead of the game that–please sit down for this–I got tired of knitting, and stopped. Yes, I did. I stopped knitting before I even got to EastEnders at midnight. I had just plain had enough knitting yesterday.
Runcible Sleeve Scarf Explanation
So, the picture above is of the second half of the Runcible Sleeve Scarf. This scarf concept comes from Mrs. Lear, who had the idea of knitting a big sleeve with cuffs at both ends. The reason the sleeve is being knit in 2 separate parts, instead of as a single piece in the round, is that the inspiration Gap scarf has different stripe patterns that crash into each other on the side of the scarf that shows. You can’t do this easily if you are knitting in the round, as far as I can figure. So I am knitting the scarf in 2 pieces, which will be seamed together down both edges. I want that seam to appear in the middle of the scarf, so that the “crashing stripes” are visible. But a cylinder shape in stockinette has a tendency to twist. It would be hard to keep it lying flat against the wearer’s neck, and it would be hard to keep the seams in the center of the front and back of the scarf.
Enter Elizabeth Zimmermann’s celebrated Phony Seam technique. The phony seam is a way of creating a fold in a knitted fabric. Because it’s structural, it stays put. I figured that if I put a phony seam down the center of each of the 2 pieces that form the “sleeve”, it would stay neatly folded. Here’s how to do it.
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On the last row of the piece, knit to the center stitch (stitch 21), then drop this stitch. (Due to the felty/sticky properties of Noro Silk Garden, I had to help the stitch drop by picking it out with a knitting needle at each row.)
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Here we are, at the bottom of the piece. The next step is to pick this stitch back up, all the way back to the top. Doesn’t that sound tedious and futile? Well, it’s tedious but it’s not at all futile. You don’t pick it up the ordinary way, one stitch per row. Instead, using a spare knitting needle or a crochet hook, you pick up one “ladder”, then 2 ladders together, repeating this sequence until you have picked up all the ladders and placed the dropped stitch back on the left needle. In this case, the 2-row stripes help you keep track of all the ladders so that you don’t miss one.
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It works so great it’s almost unbelievable. That fold is there to stay, all by itself. It looks lovely, too. Damn clever thing, the Phony Seam. Thank you, Mrs. Z!
Now I just have to finish the second half, do a phony seam down its center stitch, sew the two halves together, knit the cuffs onto both ends (in the round, using great yarn I just thought of), and wala: Foxy Bob Cratchit Scarf!
Love,
Kay

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48 Comments

48 Comments

  1. Ahhhhh, I get it now. Thank you!

  2. I’m closer to understanding the concept of the scarf…

  3. Yep, now I get it, too. I want to show your photo of the FO scarf to #2 son — it seems like the kind of thing he might like.

  4. Isn’t it “voila!”? Not to be confused with “viola,” which is that bigger violin alto instrument…

  5. Note to Judy et al: I was tripped up by the “wala” thing once before. I think it’s like, an inner circle thing, or a where you grew up thing, thing. Cause it’s def. “voila” but *not*. Like maybe it’s “freedom fries ‘voila’” only I think it also way predates freedom fries, and goes all the way back to, like, mideast oil crisis of ’77 or whenever.
    ANYHOO. Excuse the comment-as-post; what I meant to say was I am a little befuddled by Kay’s TV schedule. Aren’t Friday nights for public affairs (you start off well with NewsHour) and Saturdays for Britcoms? Or am I just completely brainwashed by my own station? It makes me really happy to see Lehrer in the same post as Stewart and Colbert, though, so I’ll let you keep your Big TV Night and I’ll keep mine.

  6. Great project name, Flipping Brilliant use of EZ’s clever unvention….and fine use of a beautiful Noro colorway !
    : )

  7. I LOVE As Time Goes By! My favorite show. Yay tv!

  8. Have you watched Rachel Maddow’s show yet? I might like this one even better than Stewart’s, Colbert’s, and Lehrer’s shows.

  9. The scarf (by any name) is looking good! Can’t wait to see the crashing and such!
    p.s.
    I think the boldest thing I’ve ever done knitting-wise is to make an EZ Phony Seam after reading about it in – which book? the almanac, maybe? – anyway, it was pretty thrilling to drop that stitch down, down, down, gulp, down to the cast-on. But the payoff was big. I love the Phony Seam. And I love that EZ called it a “phony seam.” Makes me smile. just like this blog.

  10. The name makes me scream!!!! It’s going to be so beautiful in the Silkgarden!

  11. Very clever. I’ve used the phoney seam on sweaters but never thought of making a scarf with it. The only thing that scares me off is all that sewing up. However the beauty of it might just make me want to do that. Knit on.

  12. “wala” = joke.
    Joseph is, of course, quite right. How will you ever learn anything unless you pay complete attention ? … :0)
    I love the whole scarf concept and execution. A knitter who thinks outside the box. I have a feeling EZ would have approved !
    It’s amazing how much knitting van be done in ‘dead’ time. As lonf as one remembers to stuff knitting in one’s bag as one dashes out of the door.
    x

  13. That would be “long”. I obviously can’t type as fast as I think. Apologies.

  14. Wow, another EE fan! (and i could recite ATGB dialogue chapter and verse)
    can’t wait to see last night’s eps (taped)

  15. Wow, another EE fan! (and i could recite ATGB dialogue chapter and verse)
    can’t wait to see last night’s eps (taped)

  16. Thanks. The rheostat in my brain is lighting up now…

  17. The questions begs to be asked…But *why* does Joseph forbid knitting while he is doing homework?

  18. I love the Phony Seam. I must make one now!

  19. Kay, ever been to Wala-Wala Washington??…
    Seriously, now, I see the parts that I misunderstood about the scarf (which is looking very good). Thanks.
    About your knot nitting awl the thyme–you’ve still got to be pretty fast. Have you ever clocked your number of stitches per minute? I think (not sure)EZ’s was something like/on/near 200/minute.
    I don’t knit ‘all the time’ now, either. I joined a fiber group recently, two towns up. We’re working on a quilt for the local historical society. I (re)learned really fast how to applique. Is this a parallel universe, or what?
    LoveDiane

  20. Love the idea of ‘crashing stripes’ and the phony seam is ingenious.
    No reading during homework, eh? I can accept that for Maths but knitting is the only thing that keeps from screaming out loud whilst being read the adventures of Biff, Chip, Kipper et al……

  21. Aha. I get it now. Thanks.

  22. Aha. I get it now. Thanks.

  23. Thanks, now I am so much less confused (about the scarf anyway!!). Looks great. If things keep going the way they are at Citi, I may be able to knit during those 8 hours normal people work, who knows.

  24. I was trying to picture Hyancinth knitting……..
    Love that show, and As Time Goes By. Very clever scarf – will have to add it to the queu.

  25. Very clever…
    Question: are there photos of three different scarves in this post?

  26. I phind phoney (cph. EZ KWT) seaming phun. Does that make me a phreak?

  27. I still don’t get it … but look forward to seeing the finished project from many angles.

  28. thanks for the clarification … I love watching this progress, and I hunger to knit one for myself! (of course for myself — who else could appreciate a phony seam so fabulous?) It’s also a reason to jump into the Noro silk garden pool!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  29. Hi Kay,
    Your scarf construction is the same way that I made my mitered square scarf. I sewed together two long strips of miters and then folded the whole thing along the side seam so that the center of the miter would show. I too worried about my tube of knitting not lying flat. My solution – buttons – mitered square buttons – in the center of each miter. Nothing is better than a bunch of miters except more miters. http://www.flickr.com/photos/22199131@N00/542359831/in/photostream/

  30. I am with you 100% on the knitting during all those times that I’m waiting. Or watching. Or trying to relax. I have given my husband strict instructions for a “Please knit” sign at my funeral. When my mom was in the hospital getting a defib. implanted, my brother asked, “How can you knit at a time like this?” To which I retorted, “How can you not??” It has been a Godsend for me, but I would have to insist on a reprieve, especially during December, on the no knitting while homeworking. I consider all the things I have made in “found” time to be extra special, as I’m sure your scarf will be.

  31. I am with you 100% on the knitting during all those times that I’m waiting. Or watching. Or trying to relax. I have given my husband strict instructions for a “Please knit” sign at my funeral. When my mom was in the hospital getting a defib. implanted, my brother asked, “How can you knit at a time like this?” To which I retorted, “How can you not??” It has been a Godsend for me, but I would have to insist on a reprieve, especially during December, on the no knitting while homeworking. I consider all the things I have made in “found” time to be extra special, as I’m sure your scarf will be.

  32. i have been watching the telly
    from england -and do we have
    a pattern for our american chickens
    lovely scarf- if i knit in in public
    lady you can hurt someone with those
    needles-our banks would like us
    to keep them home-or it keeps the wife
    busy while i play golf -guess ill buy
    some while i am in the store etc

  33. I had to check out Francie’s mitred scarf because I could NOT figure it out from the description.
    Wowza!
    Fantastic, right down to the jolly i-cord fringe!

  34. Beautiful scarf, although I’ve never seen a “foxy” Bob Cratchit before. Or is it a foxy scarf FOR Bob Crachit?

  35. That is just too clever. I love it.

  36. Whenever I think to myself “How does she do it?!” about someone, I really want to know the nitty-gritty answer. Thank you Kay, for giving us the details! That’s inspiration I can use. And now I’m going to tinker with my life so that it serves up more “yes!” responses to The Question “can i be knitting while does this?” Many, many thanks :)
    PS: pulled out Outside the Lines again yesterday and wish to report am still finding new pleasures there. Oh! Such a good book…

  37. Gah, one phony seam per piece or two phony seams per piece?
    Knit on!

  38. I started knitting “this scarf” as well, but what I decided was that I just love brown, and I have a lot of Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran in brown (deep chocolate brown, looks black in certain light) and just started knitting in stockinette. I did the lovely rib at the beginning of course.
    I held it up and realized that, indeed, it will need blocking because of the curling issue.
    Of course, I totally missed the crashing stripes thing. I thought it was folded or something.
    The scarf you are doing, Kay, sounds so much neater than mine, however, I do not knit quickly. I may start that one in January for next Christmas. :)

  39. Thanks for the clarification of the scarf idea and the fake seem instructions. Can’t wait to see yours finished.

  40. I don’t manage quite as much knitting time as you do, but it is pretty similar. On the train to work, knit. Over my lunch break, knit. In between important dinner-making activities, knit. While unimportant TV is on, knit… etc. I can easily get about 4-6 hours in small chunks that way, given my commute is almost an hour each way!

  41. I have to agree with you that the answer to the question “Could I be knitting during this?” is normally yes. I for instance knit during class. I am sure that every one thinks I’m a bit strange but how else an I supposed to stay awake? And doing stockinette or garder actually helps be concentrate because then I’m not constantly thinking about how bored I am.

  42. Dear Kay,
    Your comment about “a cylinder of stockinette stitch tends to twist” has got me thinking about a sweater I knit for myself in linen. The front and back were knit back and forth as separate pieces, and seamed up the sides, but it twists when I wear it! (From the top down, it swirls to the right, from my perspective.) Drives me crazy. Any ideas why (since it wasn’t knit in the round)?
    Thanks,
    June

  43. Ok, I still don’t get it….You mean pick up one ladder, then two ladders together, then one, then two? And if that is so, then isn’t there an easier way to accomplish that, like doing the jog-less jog pick up every other row? or something…
    Anyway, I have been reading a lot about these knit-in-the-round scarves and I don’t really understand why. Is it because then you can have a scarf knit in stockinette, but the edges won’t curl?
    Oh well, I see I need to pick up some EZ books. I might be a new knitter, but I know she is a Supreme Being of Knitting.

  44. I, too, do not understand the reason why you would knit a tubular scarf? Twice the aggravation for half the surface area for neck warming?

  45. that is a very clever thing, that seam – have to try it out!
    did anybody look at the GAP web site, and realized what this scarf is called?
    the CROCHETED scarf.
    they do provide handy email addresses for comments….

  46. that is a very clever thing, that seam – have to try it out!
    did anybody look at the GAP web site, and realized what this scarf is called?
    the CROCHETED scarf.
    they do provide handy email addresses for comments….

  47. that is a very clever thing, that seam – have to try it out!
    did anybody look at the GAP web site, and realized what this scarf is called?
    the CROCHETED scarf.
    they do provide handy email addresses for comments….

  48. very clever. thank you.