Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Seaman's Scarves and Wonky Patterns

I love the way seaman's scarves look. I forget just how I first saw a pattern for one, but I immediately went on a hunt for Myrna Stahman's book, Stahman's Shawls and Scarves, about them. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble show the book as unavailable. But you can get the book from Marsha White's Needle Arts Book Shop, which has terrific customer service. There are a couple of free patterns Myrna's made available online, and this is a good link for them. Look for Myrna's name or seaman's scarves. In case you aren't familiar with seaman's scarves, they have a central ribbing section to make the scarf sit closely around the neck, and the two ends are worked from the middle, so that the design matches on each side as the scarf lies against the wearer's chest. Myrna called this one Columbine III; yes, for Columbine HS.

I've made a couple of these scarves, and I want to make them for three of the guys in our family by love (family BL) for this Christmas. When I was at Stitches West in February, I came across some gorgeous patterns designed by a small alpaca company in the Seattle-Vancouver area. They seemed especially appropriate since they are named for the smaller islands in the area, and all of these guys live in Washington State. I just pulled them out Monday night.
I showed the patterns to DH, since he's lifelong friends with the guys, and he approved them as being manly enough, lol!

I have some lovely, well-cured stash yarn for these, Grignasco Nature (50%alpaca/50% wool) in camel and charcoal I got from Smileys' a couple of years ago, and some Indecita 100% alpaca in navy I got at WEBS. I'd call the yarn light worsted at most, so I set down to swatch with my favorite size 7s. The pattern calls for 71 stitches, size 9 needles, and says it will be 11in wide. Huh? Simple math says that's 25-26 stitches to the inch, which I'd call sport weight, worked on size 4-5. Not my yarn, not their needle size. Plus IMO (DH disagrees) 11 inches wide is too much. Emailed the company, called (answering machine), still no answer as of today.

We'll skip a lot of muttering and frogging and new starts the last 2 evenings. I am not in a mood to commit to re-designing someone else's pattern, not if I'm going to make 3 scarves before Christmas, along with the other knitterly gifts that pop into my head. Finally I pulled out Barbara Walker #1 and #2, marked a lot of cables and vertical designs, and put together a really simple pattern, with even the same 4-row repeat. There was some tweaking and so on, but I'm pretty happy with what I've got so far. There are plenty of other combinations for the other 2 scarves.

I haven't done cables since Alice Trueman's class last summer, and before that it was a couple of decades. So I'm starting simple. The central cable is Wheat-Ear
and the side ones are just 4-st cables, one twisted left, one right, echoing the twist of the Wheat-Ear. This is 43 stitches on size 6 needles. This just-started piece shows the really neat technique that Myrna Stahman suggests to avoid 'second-sock syndrome'. You start with a provisional cast-on (the crocheted one is my favorite), work a couple of inches of the pattern, and then pick up from the provisional cast-on and begin working the ribbing section in the other direction. You can do both ends on one circular needle. Myrna suggests that 4x4 ribbing is the snuggliest, so I'm going to use that. After finishing the ribbing section, you start the pattern rows. Then you can shift back and forth between the two ends as you choose. With this pattern being only a 4-row repeat, I'll probably work a couple of inches and then switch.

I'm telling myself that these scarves won't be as intricate or lovely as the patterns I bought, but they're much more likely to be under the giftees' trees come December 24! As DH pointed out, the guys wouldn't really be too impressed with the fact that the pattern is named for an island in their area. He has a point. And yeah, I tell him so. I'm keeping him.


Cindy G said...

That's looking beautiful! I agree with your DH, they won't care about the pattern name. But they might me impressed by knowing you designed the scarves yourself just for them. Anyway, I think the recipient will love it.

jayne said...

That scarf looks beautiful. Love the colour and pattern. Like that two-ended process too. Guys seem to like their scarves wide, don't they?

I saw the "Columbine" patterns and wondered if there was a connection. Were they knitted as a memorial?

Bri McStan said...

Your cables are off to a wonderful start. Your description of these scarves has me wanting to learn more and cast one on. Maybe for my dad or Charles. Or someone in our extended famliy BL (a concept I love, BTW).

benne said...

Great looking cables on the scarf. I love the wheatear pattern. Aren't BW and Myrna wonderful sources? I made several of the seaman's scarves a few years ago and they were a huge hit with everyone from Thom's dad (95)to my little grandson who was seven years old then. Your DH's friends are going to be pleased. And should be.

junior_goddess said...

Good for you for stepping out on your own! And recognizing that the pattern has a BS factor-did you check on-line for corrections? Yours looks great!