July 18, 2006

Southern Snowfall: Pattern Notes

Sometimes I get sick of seeing myself on this blog all the time. I love taking pictures and it is really refreshing to have a chance to share photos of someone else. This particular photo session was a real treat, because my dear friend and knitting compatriot, Hope, is an elusive subject. She said, and I quote, "I trust you to choose the right photos to post."

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Southern Snowfall romping among the lovely yarns at Knit Cafe

This choosing of the photographs is a tough job. I did my best and picked shots that I like, but I know that Hope will probably be critical of how she looks regardless. When I choose photos I do my best to capture the nature of the subject. I liked these because they were either happy and engaging or a little contemplative. If you know Hope you will see that hint of nervousness at having her picture taken flitting across her eyes. These aren't perfect, but I think they capture a little of her very special spirit. Just in case she doesn't like them, though, I've tossed in a little bonus to even out the playing field. This is one of my favorite pics of myself, but it is goofy as all hell, and not one that you could call attractive. I'm guessing Hope will appreciate the effort. And now, without further ado, pattern notes for Southern Snowfall:

Southern Snowfall Scarf
MindofWinter QuickKnits
Knit with two skeins (150 yards/137m/skein) of Blue Sky Alpaca's Dyed Cotton (100% Organic Cotton) in color 614 "Drift", on size US8 Addi Turbo Circulars. I didn't take a gauge because this is a scarf, but 22 sts gave me a width of about 5 inches.
Size: 5 inches by about 6.5 feet - this is approximate, b/c I didn't measure the scarf before I gave it to Hope, but it was long.

Detail of the "right" side - I like the wrong side as well.
The Pattern
This was the winter, spring, and early summer of the rectangle for me. Prior to this year I had knit two scarves in about 12 years. Between January of 2005 and February of 2006, I knit three. And the only thing I've finished since then is the River Stole - yet another rectangle. All of these scarves are in complicated-looking patterns and luscious yarns, so it makes for a very nice collection. Though rectangles aren't normally that exciting for me, these really allowed me to knit through a time when I simply couldn't concentrate.

Southern Snowfall came about when Hope generously gave me a skein of dyed cotton to swatch with to see if it would work for a design I had in mind. It didn't work for what I was planning, so I decided to play around a bit. When I hit upon this stitch pattern, I knew I had something that I liked. I just kept going, and made Hope a scarf for Valentine's Day.

It's named Southern Snowfall because it looks like a dusting of snow in the south, with the ground peeking through. It's also southern because the scarf is made of cotton, rather than wool. I think it would be gorgeous in a bulky alpaca single like Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande or Misti Alpaca Chunky.

To make it, you simply cast on 22 sts and repeat these two rows:

Row 1: (RS) K3, *YO, sl1, K1, psso, K2; rep from * to last 3 sts, YO, sl1, K1, psso, K1.

Row 2: (WS) P3, *YO, P2tog, P2; rep from * to last 3 sts, YO, P2tog, P1.

I am a little obsessed with using every last bit of the yarn. With scarves, I knit an entire skein to see how much length I can get out of it. Once I've started knitting with the final skein, I cut the fringe from the outside end of the skein, and just knit to the bitter end. I never have more than 4-6 inches of yarn left.

Here's a tip for fringe: my standard fringe is three 12-inch strands of yarn per tassel, which means each tassel takes one yard of fiber. This makes a lush fringe and is an easy way to calculate the yardage needed for the fringe as well. In this case, I had 10 tassels at each end of the scarf, so I used a total of 20 yards of yarn, or a sixth of a skein. Neat trick, eh?

If you try it with alpaca, or a loosely spun wool, you might want to use bigger needles - I think the drape would be just lovely. The pattern has a repeat of 4+2, so you can cast on any multiple of 4 and then add 2 sts to get exactly the width that you want for the fiber you choose to work with. It would be pretty in fine yarn as well. Kidsilk could be yummy.

Still on the needles - you can see the reverse side well here.

Impressions of Blue Sky Dyed Cotton:
Organic cotton always has a slightly odd, papery feel for me on the needles. It is very lovely, and very organic-feeling, but there is an adjustment period. It's a grabby fiber, so I like using Addis to handle it. For a cotton, it behaves like a wool, in the sense that it seems lighter and less drapey than most cottons. It doesn't have memory or resilience like a wool, though. It gives a lovely result, and produces a unique fabric. I use it when I want a very natural, casual look. This particular line comes in really great colors. At the Knit Cafe we use it for baby items a lot - it makes beautiful blankets - but be forewarned that it is not machine washable. It has fabulous yardage, which makes it more of a bargain than the price tag indicates.

Possible substitute yarns:
I know that there are other organic cottons out there, but I can't think of a good substitute with the same fiber content and properties. Pachuko Organic Cotton is less soft, and has greater stitch definition, so although it's lovely in its own right, it is not truly a "substitute". Perhaps my commenters will have ideas. I assume there's probably a smaller regional company that produces organic cotton. If you know of a regional farm that makes something similar, please let me know below.

Posted by Julia at July 18, 2006 07:28 AM
In designs | freebies | main | pattern notes | southern snowfall | talented friends


Julia, you absolutely captured Hope's reluctant, mischievous but always warm spirit....I don't know how you got her to stand still long enough to take more than one pic....the scarf is such a pretty pattern and, you're so right, it looks super yummy in the chunky soft organic cotton!

Posted by: suzan at July 22, 2006 10:35 AM

Thanks for the pattern. And of course I have Alpaca Chunky in my stash. It was meant to be!

Posted by: Deena at July 19, 2006 12:42 PM

Thanks for the scarf pattern, and tell Hope she looks fantastic!

Posted by: Theresa at July 19, 2006 09:15 AM

Nice! Great photos, great pattern, great model. I havent worked with any of the organic cottons yet beyond swatching one. They seem so soft and fuzzy I worried they wouldn't wear well. Clearly a scarf/stole/afghan is the way to go... Me wanty!

Posted by: Emily at July 18, 2006 07:52 PM

I think Hope looks lovely in these photos. You are a great photographer. And that scarf looks excellent - I think I might try it out with some Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk!

Posted by: Anne-Caroline at July 18, 2006 02:16 PM

Gorgeous! I really love it modelled and on the deck; cream is always your classic!

Posted by: Jen. at July 18, 2006 01:33 PM

So pretty! And the name is perfect :-) What a lovely gift.

Posted by: Disentangled at July 18, 2006 12:56 PM

Hope and the scarf look lovely!

Posted by: Christina at July 18, 2006 12:15 PM

A scarf as unusual and lovely as its recipient! (also, I adore the picture of you!)

Posted by: Elspeth at July 18, 2006 11:47 AM

Hope is a perfect model for the scarf and I love the pattern. So much texture!

Posted by: Leslie at July 18, 2006 09:29 AM

Well, Hope has no reason to be critical of those photos, she looks radient and the scarf is lovely.

Posted by: marnie at July 18, 2006 09:03 AM

Wow- I remember when you started that scarf - it turned out oh so beautifully! :)

Posted by: Nonnahs at July 18, 2006 08:40 AM