January 23, 2005

Chevron Scarf

While Winter's "mind" was here in DC, I was off galavanting in LA for the week, courtesy of Moxie. In a brilliant last-minute move, he managed to spirit us away from this insane little town just in time to avoid inauguration week and the onslaught of real winter (which, despite the blog name, is taking me a while to readjust to).* Great fun was had by all, with highlights including many a scenic hike, great food and afternoons at the beach. In addition to the outdoor revelry, I was granted leave to take part in two lovely afternoons of knitting - the first at the Knit Cafe with Suzan (the owner) and Mary Heather (the manager) (MH has a new blog - she's a wonderful chick with killer skills, so definitely go check her out). As I just said to another wonderful knitting friend, I consider LA to be the home of my communal knitting, and these two, Dan (another staffer) and several others at the Knit Cafe to be my brethren. I can easily lose an afternoon talking yarn, technique, pattern, etc. with them and that is exactly what I did. It was completely inspiring to be out there again. Although I love DC and have settled in nicely, it's out in LA that I still feel most at home. It's just a very freeing, fun environment - and the weather doesn't hurt!

My second knitting foray was a meet up with Marnie for the afternoon, which was equally enchanting. (She hinted about this on her blog, and was subtle for my sake, since I'm not a big meeter-upper, but I'm okay with "coming out" this time!) Among the highlights of the day was her hem technique which I think I have successfully coerced her into blogging about ("If you don't post a tutorial, I will!" - though of course I'd give credit - copyright and all that...) Marnie is a great sport - she met me at the hair salon and taught one of the stylists to knit while I was being blown out, and then accompanied me and Moxie to our favorite spot in Chinatown where we raved about the food like lunatics (I doubt anything could have lived up to the expectations we set) and then ate like zoo animals on feeding day. As reward for her patience, I dragged her across LA to hang out in Pasadena and knit for the afternoon (Marnie, I cannot fathom what Friday traffic must have been going back across LA at rush hour - forgive me!) It was really wonderful to hang out and chat about all things "knit". Marnie's knitting style is much more liberated than mine, and it's great to be able to let some of that creativity rub off on me, if only for an afternoon. Her hem technique is brilliant, so look for it soon. I know I'll be using it.

Amidst all this outdoor and knitting talk fun, I also managed to get quite a bit of actual knitting done. I've made substantial progress on Asana (though I have some fear of running short on yarn - I'm going to have to see if Suzan and MH have my dyelot in White ASC at the Knit Cafe, since I've cleaned out my new LYS, Stitch DC) and the Chevron Scarf is fini (lacking only blocking, which it sorely needs). Here, without further ado, are the pattern notes on that one:

The Chevron Scarf

Deja Vu Anyone?

Last Minute Knitted Gifts,
designed by Joelle Hoverson

Knit with 3 skeins (104 yards/95m/skein) of Artyarns Supermerino (100% Superwash Merino), in variegated Reds, Blues and Purples (111) on Clover bamboo straights in size US7 (4.5 mm), in a guage of 4.5 sts per inch over Stst.

Finished Dimensions:
6.5 inches wide and 60 inches in length.

Pattern Notes:
This is a fabulously fun, yet simple pattern, which produces a beautiful scarf. I would highly recommend it as a "next step" pattern for new knitters. You can learn to increase and decrease, and practice both techniques at regular intervals. By the end of the scarf these moves will be automatic and you'll have a beautiful piece to wear. This is one of those instances where less is definitely more. Personally, I will be making two more of these scarves (much!) later in the year for my MIL and SIL's Xmas presents.** They're easy and fast but look terribly impressive.

I would highly recommend the rest of Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Knitted Gifts patterns as well. I think Joelle has done an excellent job of presenting very simple patterns that create intricate-seeming finished objects. She has a keen eye for color and her use of color and discussion of it throughout the book are really instructive for those who don't usually foray into the area (and even for those who do). I usually stick to tomes when it comes to knitting books, but despite the fact that LMNG is no treatise, it serves as great inspiration. I would place this book in league with Erica Knight's books (some of my favs for color and style inspiration), but give Joelle extra stars for actually giving us real patterns (Erica sometimes skimps on this!).

I cast on 36 sts instead of the number in the pattern, and then followed the directions using multiples of three sts rather than four to adjust for the guage of Supermerino, which is chunkier than the recommended Koigu. Additionally, I scrapped using a second yarn in this incarnation, as I had just the right amount of Supermerino to do the job. It's very easy to tinker with this pattern to adjust for guage - just use different multiples of sts for the main pattern row and you're set.

Impressions of Artyarns Supermerino:
This is yet another Desert Island Yarn. (Watch out folks - I think I have now named at least three Desert Island Yarns on this blog which means that a list and a lengthy post detailing Desert Island Yarn Criteria are soon to follow.) Despite the high number of variegated yarns that have snuck their way into my stash recently, I am not a Variegated Yarn Person. I have no patience for things like pooling, flashing, puddling, etc. (click to read an informed discussion of such things) and don't generally care for great swathes of clashing bright colors in close proximity my physical being. (The Chrysalis Pullover is half knit and I'm still deciding whether I will love it or live to call it my variegated nemesis.)

Supermerino, however, creates an exception to my Thou Shalt Not Knit Multicolored Yarn for Attire Rule (again, broken previously only for Chrysalis - we'll see how that goes). Its colors are strangely harmonious, the feel is amazing, and for goshsakes it's machine washable. (Every baby I know will soon be swathed in variegated, not-quite-clashing, cozy Supermerino bliss. Machine Washable. I just had to repeat that. It's a joy to work with. Springy, forgiving, with depth of color. Oh yeah, and second only in importance to the fact that it is machine washable, it does not appear to flash, pool, puddle or otherwise create an ungodly mess in the middle of your knitting. I've seen it worked up for a sock as well as in my own scarf and it truly does not offend in its variegatedness (a gargantuan task). It is so true in this sense that I did the unthinkable with it - I didn't bother to alternate skeins every two rows to even out the color balance. I always do this with space-dyed yarns, because otherwise they look like crap. Now, there was some variation among the three skeins, such that for a sweater I would recommend alternating, but in a scarf, the differences were negligible. Very impressive. Artyarns has done a great job. I would place great confidence in their other yarns on the basis of Supermerino alone - sight unseen. Bravo!

Possible substitute yarns:
Koigu's KPPPM is the obvious substitute for this scarf, since it is the recommended yarn. It's smaller in guage, so it will work up more slowly, and I think you will find that it is also more textured. I really like KPPPM, but I'll continue to stick with the Supermerino. Can we say machine washable? If you're looking for a similar-guaged substitute, I think that Koigu's Kersti would likely do the trick. (Do your fact checking on this - I'm winging it here - it looks like it has a slightly smaller guage from the info online.) Others rave about it, but since I have yet to acquire any, I will leave comparisons until another day.

More Photos:
To follow in a later post. I have some blocking to do, but then we'll go out in the snow for a proper winter photoshoot.

Tips for Others Making the Chevron Scarf:
Be prepared to block! Otherwise, this is an easy, fast, rewarding knit.

*This trip was ostensibly for my birthday, which was a couple of weeks ago, but I have no doubt that the fact that my work has been making me a bit nutty lately played a big factor! Moxie gets BIG BIG points for this one.

**This year is the year of the knitted gift since last year I bailed almost completely on knitting for the fam. I'm going to plan early and knit these gifties throughout the year, rather than attempting the usual knitting cram in late December. Wish me luck!

Posted by Julia at January 23, 2005 11:15 AM


My husbands uncle recently visited. He lives in Northern California and I understand it's been raining constantly. Was it sunny in LA?
Love the photo and it gave me an idea, I have this yarn I don't know what to do with, I think I just might use it for xmas gifts (for next year) for this scarf and other types of scarf with matching hat or head gear. That you for the inspiration. The book is on my wish list.

Posted by: Orli at January 25, 2005 03:25 AM

You can't beat machine washable! The scarf looks great. :)

Posted by: Vicki at January 24, 2005 05:39 PM

Sounds like such a wonderful and relaxing vacation...lucky you! How is the new Stitch in DC store - I haven't heard much about it...My favorite LYS in the area is Woolwinders, if you're willing to ride the metro out to Rockville, it is way worth it!

Posted by: Anne-Caroline at January 24, 2005 02:44 PM

I am also becoming an Artyarns Supermerino evangelist. I just love working with it, I love the rich colors, I love the easy care. It is a winner!

Glad you made it home safe and sound- it was so great to see you!

Posted by: Mary-Heather at January 24, 2005 12:23 PM

The scarf photographed beautifully though I have to admit, it should be seen to be really appreciated. Better yet, it should be touched, the yarn is a thing of beauty!

I had a wonderful time eating and S&Bing. I can't wait to do it again sometime. :)

Posted by: Marnie at January 24, 2005 09:22 AM

Very pretty scarf, so cute worn like that! Happy belated birthday!

Posted by: H. E. Jenny at January 23, 2005 10:26 PM

lovely! and now i've got to try out that artyarns supermerino. i've been circling it for a while. the colours in your scarf look beautiful, and i'm always looking for a good machine washable yarn thanks, as always, for the notes!

Posted by: mrspilkington at January 23, 2005 08:15 PM

OOooo! Very nice! And you are even modeling it the way it is shown in the book, hee hee! Variegated handpainted yarns always seem to look good in a zigzaggy pattern stitch. And the colors on that scarf are so pretty.
The machine-made space-dyed yarns somehow seem more versatile to me, because they tend to change colors more quickly and more sharply.
I think occasionally flashing and pooling and so on can look fantastic, but only if it is engineered with Missoni-like skill.
Good to hear you missed the inauguration mayhem, and seemingly also managed to get back to the east coast before the snowstorm shut everyone down. What luck!

Posted by: Emily at January 23, 2005 07:01 PM

ok, i have knit with that and didn't realize that is was machine washable. i adore the color you used and will have to try to find some of that shade. wonderful notes as i plan to use my leftover clapotis and work this pattern. glad you had such a fantastic trip. sounds fabulous. take care!

Posted by: froggy at January 23, 2005 01:13 PM

Fantastic scarf, Julia! I love the colorway -- very nice. I've been wanting to get my hands on the yarn to see how it knits. Beautiful, my dear! I just love LMKG -- many wonderful patterns, very classic, and much BFYB (bang for your buck).

Posted by: Jen. at January 23, 2005 12:28 PM

Colleen - Eeewww. That's a shame. No errors in this one, though I did not "math check" the others - not that I'm beyond that, but there are only so many hours in the day!

Posted by: Julia at January 23, 2005 11:52 AM

I heard (through my knitting group) that many patterns have mistakes in them, and that's made me hesitant to try knitting from this book. Any trouble with errors in the scarf pattern?

Posted by: Colleen at January 23, 2005 11:46 AM