What I Am Talking About
November 22, 2008
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:
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.
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.)
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.
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!