Tag Archive | scarf

Day 5: tree

Christmas tree scarf (3)

This tree is on a scarf I made on my knitting board, lo these many years. It has been languishing in a bin, waiting for someone to love it enough to take it home. In other words, I made it for my Etsy store. I made up the pattern on my own. I even had to sketch out my own little grid because I had no graph paper at the time. The scarf used up two partial skeins of yarn that wouldn’t have made anything on their own, but I think the combined effect turned out pretty nice.

Mental cleansing

Often, after doing something fiddly or mentally taxing, I need a break. Not inactivity, mind you, but something that will help wash all the fidgets away, something that will let my mind relax and will still be productive in the end. After finishing up Sprinkaan’s baby sweater, I was desperate for a quick project that didn’t require a lot of thought. Crochet, I never really left you.

Scarves and hats are great little projects to whip out just for fun, but would you believe I only own one scarf? And it was store-bought, given to me by a friend for my birthday 8 years ago. How does a thing like this happen? By very virtue of being a crafter with an emphasis in yarn arts, I should be surrounded by more scarves than I could wear in one winter. [hangs head] Please don’t revoke my hooker license.

I’ve liked the idea of an infinity scarf for awhile and found this pattern called Chic Shells Infinity Scarf. I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion or what, but I ended up using a gray yarn, too. It was a Red Heart Soft no it wasn’t, I made that up. It was “Loops & Threads” Glitter, which I believe is from Michael’s. I had bought it to make Axl’s bandana on my Axl afghan, which used only a miniscule amount. I didn’t have any other real plan for one mostly full skein of yarn. I don’t think it would have been enough for a traditional scarf, but it was just right for this project.

The pattern itself was a pretty straightforward shell stitch. But can I just say? A foundation row of 170 stitches sux. It took willpower and stamina, but I powered through it. Another plus to this pattern is that it calls for an M hook. I don’t have an M, so I used my N. Big hook = fast. Fast = instant gratification. More or less.

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I wore the scarf for the first time on Sunday and I liked it so much, I kept it on all day. I might need to make another one. Or two.

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Scarfing it up

It was brought to my attention recently by a sweet little girl that she did not have a suitable scarf to wear. And it was true. The scarf — if it could even be called such — was my very first knitting loom project using the remainder of some yarn I had around. It wasn’t very long and, if you can imagine such a thing to be possible, she outgrew it. Once Granota spoke up about her lack of scarf, naturally Rana had to put in her plug for a new scarf, too. Her scarf is plenty long, but I made it out of Fun Fur (don’t judge me) years ago and, while it is, indeed, fun, it is not warm. We were at Michael’s the other day, so I let the girls choose their yarn color. Although I tried to steer them towards nicer yarns, the lure of variegated Red Heart was too much for them. Rana chose “Bikini” (appropriate for a scarf. Or not.) and Granota chose “Bonbon.” Konik was adamant that he did not want a scarf. He was perturbed that I would be working on other projects besides his socks. He wants socks and he wants socks now. Sorry, tiny dude.

The pattern I used came from this little Leisure Arts booklet that my mom gave me years ago when I grew up and left home.

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So far I’ve only used it for the different stitches, but in the back of my mind, I always wanted to try this scarf pattern that was in the back. It has a slit in one end to pass the other end of the scarf through. My kids can never keep a scarf on, so I thought this seemed like a good, simple solution to that problem.

I don't match my lipstick to my scarf, mostly because it's orange and purple.

I don’t match my lipstick to my scarf, mostly because it’s orange and purple.

The pattern uses a cluster stitch. For some reason, mine was not coming out right. I was skipping a chain or something, because the whole thing kept curling up. So I scrapped that plan and made the whole thing in block stitch. Another time, I probably would have figured out the cluster stitch, but it was cold and the girls were chomping at the bit to wear their scarves.

If you have ever worked with Red Heart Super Saver yarn before, you know how coarse and scratchy it feels. Not exactly apparel-quality yarn. I discovered, though, while I was making the Axl dolls, that steaming acrylic yarn softens it up nicely (I steamed his hair). Just don’t touch your iron to the yarn unless you want to ruin them both.

Bonbon and Bikini. Small girls were not available for modeling at this time.

Bonbon and Bikini. Small girls were not available for modeling at this time.

Tucked through the slit.

Tucked through the slit.

Granota says, “My scarf is super-duper, suuuuper duper warm.”
Rana says, “Mine is so nice to stay on.”

So there you have it. Warm and nice to stay on. Mission accomplished, wouldn’t you say?

Also, if you are interested in “scarfing it up,” there actually is an organization called Scarf It Up that collects scarves for needy individuals. I haven’t participated in it before; I actually just found it this afternoon. You can find more information about it here: Scarf It Up For Those In Need.

 

French Friday #31: Magical scarves and the evil breeze

The French are known for being particularly stylish and for seeming to achieve that without effort. As though it’s in their genes. It may be. (Apart from the goofy man-capris that young men seem to like.) One accessory a French person is almost never without is a scarf. Be it winter, spring, summer, or fall, there are scarves for all occasions and seasons. Aside from pulling an outfit together, did you know that French scarves also have magical properties? Oh yes, its true. Magical healing properties. You may look at your own humble scarf in a different light after this. But first, let’s take a look at the evil breeze.

The French people cannot abide a breeze, or courant d’air. It’s not fear of any pestilence that the wind might be carrying along, it’s the very air itself that incites such panic. Malevolent, moving air has the power to strike you down and surely render you a feeble, rheumy mess of a human being. Serious measures must be taken to ensure that the slightest puff of air does not penetrate any home or building. If you’ve ever traveled in France during the summer and wondered at the lack of air conditioning, even when the populace is visibly sweltering, now you know why. There are a few restaurants who, understanding that they cater to tourists, will install a small window unit in a far corner of their establishment and then turn it on at the very lowest setting (so as not to induce terror in the rest of their patrons). Even so, your French server will inevitably attempt to steer you away from the air conditioning, suggesting several other tables because surely no person in his right mind would want to sit by a machine that actually blows air directly on you! Quelle horreur!

Summer meal with friends. We were not allowed to sit by the window or AC.

Mr. Gren and I participated in a gospel choir through our church while living in France. It was a great draw for the community. The choir was 100+ strong and we had rehearsal in the small sanctuary of our church, formerly a carpenter’s workshop. When you pack a room that full of people, the air begins to get a little dense, even in winter. Once the temperature had risen to an uncomfortable height, a Brit or an American would quietly crack open a window in the back. Relief never lasted for long because as soon as the French choir members felt the slightest whiff of air, a cackling clamor arose as though we had just let a fox into the henhouse. It really was an interesting social experiment: Open the window and watch the French people climb over each other in order to shut it as quickly as possible. After that we would leave it closed because, well, “When in Rome…”

Our church, Emmanuel International in Rueil. Note the two offending windows between the cross.

Now, obviously, in a country with architecture as old as France has, not every building is airtight. Enter the magical scarf. The scarf will prevent any rogue currents from attacking your neck, which, in the French mindset, is the gateway to health or illness. Another interesting social observation was to watch and see who left their scarves on indoors, despite having shed their coat upon entering. This was almost always a clue that said person was either 1) already suffering from a cold or 2) felt one coming on and wanted to be sure to ward it off. I always found it a little funny in an endearing sort of way when, if I asked French friends how they were doing, they would point at their scarf and reply that they had a cold or sore throat, as though the mere fact of them wearing a scarf should have made that obvious to me upon sight. When we saw our friends a week later and noticed that they took off the scarf with the coat, it could be safely assumed that they were feeling better. Always a good sign.

How the temp could rise when this place got packed

I found it funny, but it turns out that it may not be as quirky as it first seemed. A couple of years ago, I was researching natural remedies for sore throats and found an interesting treatment prominently featuring… a wool scarf. But, it is not the scarf itself which promotes the healing; rather it is the carrot poultice that is applied to the neck. Carrot apparently has properties that draw toxins from the lymph nodes, alleviating the pain of a sore throat. With the poultice against the neck, the scarf is then wrapped around to it hold the poultice wrap on and also to generate heat. It was weird enough that I decided to give it a try. And you know what? It worked. It sounds like the sort of thing a backwoods great-grandma would do, which got me thinking. An old folk remedy like this has probably been around for centuries. Somewhere in the French collective consciousness is a vague memory of it. As time passed, the carrots slipped out, transferring the memory of healing properties to the scarf itself.

This was mid-June. Spot the sick French person.

This is just my theory, mind you, but it seems to me to be a good one. It would be interesting to visit small French country villages and conduct a sort of survey to see if there is anyone who still remembers the carrot + scarf antidote. But I would be considerate and not dare touch a window lest I throw those French country mamies into a frenzy. Scarf or no, you don’t invite a courant d’air inside.

Edited to add: Mr. Gren reminded me of one of the funnier things that happens when the French are confronted with a courant d’air. While they’re clambering over each other to close the window, there are always at least a couple people exclaiming, “Ça tire! Ça tire!” — “It’s pulling!” As though the breeze were going to suck out their very souls. Who knows, maybe it would?

Get used to disappointment

I love Cary Elwes (Except in “Twister” because his Southern accent was lousy and he was a bad guy). It’s ok; Mr. Gren knows. I especially love him when he’s being all suave and dashing. I mean, how could I not? His name is Welsh, he’s got those eyes, and that smirk, and that voice and… {sigh}. What was I talking about? Oh, right. And of course, “The Princess Bride” is the most quotable of all his films. Today I direct your attention to the famous sword fight scene with Inigo Montoya. Do I need to set it up for you? Really, shame on you. Go watch it. I always loved the dialogue when Inigo asks, “Who are you?” and Westley replies, “No one of consequence.” Inigo insists, “I must know!” only to be met with the flippant, “Get used to disappointment.” Inigo ponders this for a second and then gives an amiable shrug.

Cling! Clang!

I’ve come to the recent conclusion that I, too, must get used to disappointment. Not in dueling (because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even last long enough to be disappointed), but in crafting. I know you’re probably all sick of hearing about my power outage, but it really did something to me. A couple of days before we lost power, I noticed that I don’t have a stocking hat. I have a beret that I wear through the winter (which is October through about April here), but it doesn’t cover my ears. And some days that is a real necessity. So I began knitting myself a stocking hat with a leftover skein of Homespun yarn. The power went out and I huddled up next to the window with my knitting board and kept stitching. I didn’t finish it until after the power came back on several days later. I sure could have used it as we sat freezing in our 45 degree cabin. I also wouldn’t have been able to see.

It might be a bit big

The cuff is supposed to start about where the pink is, but if you look closely, you can tell that that’s where my nose is. I don’t see through my nose.

Cuffed all the way to the top of my head and it still threatens to fall over my eyes

It calls to mind the first stocking hat I knitted on my knitting board about a year ago this time. It’s not any better.

Warm? Yes. Wearable? No.

So technically, I possess two stocking hats, but apparently I knit for Goliath. Or Andre the Giant.

I put the hat away and tried a different knitting project — a scarf similar to the pine tree scarf I made a couple months ago. This time I wanted to make a heart scarf.

Looks nice, feels scratchy

This wasn’t my first choice of yarn. Turns out my instincts were correct: it just doesn’t feel nice at all. And nobody wants to wear a scratchy scarf, no matter how cute. So I pulled it off the needles and stuffed into my yarn bin and put away the knitting board. Time to try something else.

I began sewing an Easter bonnet for Granota. I know it’s early, but I thought, if it turns out nice, I can make a few more for my etsy store. It turned out… passable. She loves it, so I won’t tell her all the things that are wrong with it. Of course, I can’t make something for one girl and not make the identical item for the other girl. I started sewing Rana’s bonnet and called over Granota for a fitting since Rana was at school. It didn’t fit her. I tried it on Konik and it didn’t fit him, either. How do I use the same pattern and end up with such drastically different results? I had enough seam allowance that I was able to let it out enough to eventually fit Konik’s head. I wish I had pictures of his face when I would try it on him. Even at 2 years old, he knows that is a girl hat and he wanted no part of it. It was pretty funny. In the end, I turned out a sweet little bonnet that I can’t use for my children.

Modeled so nicely by my tailor's ham, which didn't put up a fuss

Come on, now, something has got to work out one of these times. Next project was to crochet little cuffs to sew on the bottom of Rana’s pants. Remember all those clothes I made her at the beginning of the school year? Yeah, she’s outgrown them. Her pants are too short and we have no money, so I thought I could use what I already have. I measured around the hem of her pants, then got out my crochet stitch book, chose a stitch and started crocheting up a nice little decorative cuff. I used crochet thread and a size B hook. I was pleased with how it turned out and got right to work on the second one.

There might be a size discrepancy here.

Same number of stitches and yet… So I started a third one. Three different times. Tightened my tension and it would still turn out too big. I can’t even begin to explain what is happening here. I thought I would have all this great stuff to show you after the little scare with my computer (which has been behaving itself of late, so we’ll see…) and I can’t properly finish anything. I’ve gone through the stages of confusion and frustration, so now I’m left with disappointment. But y’know, it’s so much easier to take when I imagine Cary Elwes telling me to get used to it. Anything for you, Cary.

Mystery gifts: In-law Edition

Today you get two (two!) for the price of one! This post should have gone up Wednesday, but the power went out and kind of messed up that plan. But the extra day of waiting didn’t kill you, did it?

So, the next two mystery photos were this:

And this:

The first photo is of wool dryer balls that I made for my mother-in-law.

Put them in the dryer instead of dryer sheets to cut static electricity without any questionable chemicals. Bonus! I’ve been using a set that I received in a craft swap a year ago and I love them. My mother-in-law lives in Spokane which has a fairly dry mountain climate. She tries to avoid having to use dryer sheets, so doing laundry there can get awfully prickly. I thought these might help her out. They aren’t too difficult to make, but they do take some time.

First, wind a small core of wool yarn into a grape-sized ball. Then, put the little balls into an old nylon and knot the top and throw them into a load of wash, preferably hot water.

All ready to go in the washer

The balls need to move around enough to mat and felt the wool, but you still want to keep them contained so that they don’t come unwound. After running through the washer, throw them into the dryer with the clothes to continue felting.

Core wool ball

From here, you could continue wrapping yarn, or save a little time and wrap the core ball in a bit of wool sweater like I did.

Run it through the wash again in the nylon. Then keep wrapping with yarn and felting it up to the size you like. The balls I made were about the size of a tennis ball by the time they were done. It’s not an exciting process, but wrapping the yarn balls is actually kind of therapeutic.

You can see the separate strands of yarn, but they won't come apart now.

Next up is my sister-in-law’s gift. She had asked for something warm in the way of an afghan, hat or scarf. I didn’t have time to whip out an afghan, so I decided to make the most of her hat/scarf request and made a hooded scarf.

Bulky yarn hooded scarf

I actually had to unwrap the scarf to take a photo of it because some overzealous wrappers had already gotten a hold of it. Mr. Gren was downstairs, chomping at the bit to get to the post office, so I had Granota take a quick photo of me modeling it.

You get the idea.

What can I say? She’s four.

Here’s hoping it provides my sis-in-law many warm outings this winter.

That’s the end of all the mystery gifts! We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program next week. In other words, next week will be full of other random and seemingly unconnected projects, just like always. I completed another blouse for myself the week before Christmas; finished knitting a sweater this afternoon that now needs to be sewn together; I’ve begun a multi-colored block afghan to use up a bunch of Red Heart yarn that I’ve had forever, and who knows what else I’ll pick up in between.