More of how I got here: scarves, evolving

The next item I remember making was also a scarf:

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This was the Wisp scarf out of Knitty, so it’s an actual pattern, and it’s even lace (though very simple lace). The yarn is Rowan Kidsilk Haze, though I don’t know the colorway anymore.

I was visiting my mother, and had little to do, so went to the local yarn store. There I fell in love with the yarn, bought a ball, and decided I would make something, so went back to my mom’s house and searched the internet for free patterns. I completely can’t remember when I made this, but Wisp came out in 2007, so after that; the internet tells me it was probably right around when Ravelry was born, but I certainly didn’t know about it yet, and just googled free knitting patterns.

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I used a pair of aluminum straight needles borrowed from my mom (so probably dating back to the 60s or 70s, if not earlier). I’d never knit lace before – and I haven’t knit much of it since – but I just looked up the stitches I had to learn and plugged onward. I did ditch any idea of working eyelet rows and decided I would just skip adding buttons. This makes me laugh now, because the eyelets/buttonholes were simply yarnovers, which I knew how to do because I had to figure them out to work this lace pattern. But the idea of working eyelets every 5 rows while also following the lace pattern blew my mind, so I decided to ignore them.

I did block this (not brilliantly, a couple of years after I finished it), but without the buttons to hold it in place it’s still a sort of odd length/width for me – both short and wide. The mohair’s also incredibly itchy. To be honest, I don’t think I ever wore this scarf, and it, too, has been living in the laundry basket since we moved here.

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It’s interesting to see what’s similar to the previous scarf and what’s different. In both cases I fell for variegated yarn that looked so pretty and magical in the skein, without really understanding how it would look knit into fabric. This was actually fine for my 2×2 ribbing scarf – the stitch was simple and any appeal the final item had came from the look of the yarn, not what I did with it on the needles. But the variegated Kidsilk Haze didn’t do my second scarf any favors – the open lace didn’t show off the colors very effectively, and the color changes obscured the lace stitches.

I also clearly had a thing for fuzz, or to be more knitterly about it, yarns with a strong halo. Maybe this was just more in fashion at the time? Because I certainly don’t find myself reaching for fuzzy yarns now. It seems part and parcel of the impulse to choose variegated yarns, though – like the colors, the fuzz is very obvious in the skein; it stands up and yells at you to notice it; and both variegation and fuzz lend some distinctive quality to the final project that doesn’t really require you, the knitter, to know or do anything.

I think, at this stage in my knitting, before I knew how to do much more than stockinette, I relied on the yarn to make a project beautiful, and notable, rather than the combination of yarn and pattern. Kidsilk Haze is a beautiful yarn, still going strong, and many people use it to spectacular effect. For instance, I think each of these three projects takes excellent advantage of the yarn’s fundamental lightness and airiness to create exquisite but very different finished objects. But when I used it, I hadn’t yet moved beyond “pretty yarn = pretty item,” or realized the limitations in that blunt equation.

Of course, I’m still learning how to match yarn to pattern. But at least now I’m aware that doing so is a thing.

The biggest difference between the scarves is that I went from 2×2 ribbing to lace. It’s about as easy lace as you can get; you only need to know how to yarnover and knit two together. But it was new to me, and was a step away from the “knit a rectangle” scarf. I was also using a pattern. I think (meaning no disrespect to garter stitch or ribbed scarf knitters) that I wanted to make something that was a “real” knitting project.

I hadn’t realized till now that it was seven years between the two projects. Probably kind of useful to keep in mind that it took me that long to move from one step to the next.

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