Saturday, November 06, 2010

B/F and G/F Scarf

So I finished the scarf that Kid #1 will eventually ask me to do for his G/F of just over a year. I can see it coming, so I figured I'd get it done before it got too late. He seems to think that I'm sustained by "knitting fairies" who allow me to knit without sleep and still function at work the next day!

I know that his G/F, lovely as she is, is no yarn fancier. Kid #1 gave her an alpaca sweater last year, and she had a tepid response. Heck, I would've loved an alpaca sweater! Anyway, he says that I've "ruined" it because I made him into a yarn snob. Which makes me laugh. So, since I know eventually it'll come to him to ask me, I did a stash-kind-of scarf.

I'm not necessarily a believer in the "sweater curse." If you don't know what that is, I'll tell you. NEVER knit anything for anyone you're dating. Never. Because one of two things will happen. You'll either break up when you're about 2/3 of the way into the project or you'll break up immediately after giving the gift. I didn't knit anything for Hubby - mainly because I wasn't knitting when we were dating! So I never saw the curse in action, but I've read about it enough times.

To avoid any supply meltdowns, I considered seriously what I was willing to invest in this scarf. I knew it wouldn't be alpaca! I dallied with the idea of Lion's Cashmere - it's not horribly expensive, and it has good stitch definition. Then I thought of the time I wanted to invest in actually doing a complicated pattern, or even an easy basketweave. I thought "not much" simply because I don't have a lot of time. And also, you can't exactly toss cashmere into the washer. That consideration always sits near the front of my brain when I think of knitting for others.

I have a friend who's a marvelous knitter. She has a daughter-in-law who is either stupid or has issues. She made her first grandchild (ok, maybe it was over-enthusiasm for the first grandchild) a lovely layette out of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. It's what you'd think it was, even if you're a novice knitter. Cashmere + merino - two of the softest things you can put next to your skin.

The daughter-in-law washed the layette. And dried it in the dryer. Yep, now it's doll clothes.

So The Sweater Curse can also be retooled into The Unappreciative Recipient Curse. That's the person who says, "Oh, you made this." In that tone which implies that you were too lazy to go buy something. You know the type. They don't get knitted or crocheted - or ANY hand made items from me. Not even cookies. Fie on them. A pox on their houses. May their store-bought gifts all break upon opening. May their batteries be dead. Serves 'em right!

Soooooooooooo - I tend to think of who it is I'm knitting for and their capacity to care for what I'm handing them. I know the Yarn Harlot says that once you've given a gift, it's out of your hands. But I like to think I'm educating people about the yarn and the significance. If you don't want to wear my hand-knit super-wash wool hat, that's fine. Go wear your Gap or Old Navy hat. But at least with super-wash wool, you can't really destroy it by washing it! For my sister's pregnant daughter-in-law, there's fine pima cotton. She's sensible and she loves yarn. But she'll be adjusting to a first baby. I don't want her to have to worry about the blanket when Baby pees or yarks on it. For my mother: something gorgeous because I know what she likes AND that she'll take appropriate care of it. She doesn't knit but she appreciates it.

Simple Knit Scarf
 Here's what I ended up with for the G/F: Homespun. Colorway Painted Desert. Here's the end product, knitted on size 15 needles. I don't know what Lion calls this, but as I was rooting around the Michael's for the yarn, this was a pattern on the back of some hideous Homespun color (yeah, it was green/yellow/tan and I just couldn't imagine it...) and so I copied the pattern onto a scrap of paper.

I call it the G/F Scarf. You take one skein of Homespun, cast on 11 (I did 12) and then knit on size 15 needles. Straight knit. Nothing fancy. But what you do have to do is pull it from both ends of the skein. Which, even in their skeins, is a major pain in the sit-bones because the yarn is not twisted tightly, it's wound on a skinny acrylic thread and it's more boucle in nature and prone to snagging like crazy. So I took both ends of the yarn and wound it into a ball. Check out to search for simple scarf patterns - and I think you can go directly to the Homespun and look at it.

I liked the Painted Desert because it was bright; it has flame red/orange, deep blue, a touch of green and some pale versions of those colors. This shot doesn't do it justice unless you click on it to enlarge it. The double-stranding of the yarn adds enough heft for it to be nice and warm, even though it's acrylic. And the G/F is a small person - this scarf is plenty long for her. If you wanted to, I guess you could do two skeins and still double them for a super-long scarf.

And Homespun is easy to care for. And it cost me $4.79. So if she loses it or wrecks it - or if they break up - I won't have spent a fortune. It was done in essentially a weekend.

I was disappointed in Michael's. Their yarn selection is getting really weird. Lots of private-label yarns, and hard to find the old standby selections. I'd have done a crocheted chenille if I could've found it. I did one of those for Kid #2 when he had lost yet another scarf and the kid wore it till it was ragged - I literally had to snatch it from him and toss it. He's now got a lovely wool-blend in black and garnet red.

Kid #1 had a crocheted acrylic that was the cammo-pattern. He lost it. So he got a chenille quickie in black and tan. He hasn't lost that one yet. And if he does, I have plenty of acrylic stash for him.

By the way, they begged for their wool hats early. I swear Kid #2 is living in his! They both love them and since November has turned really toward "cold" it's good for them to be wearing the hats.

Knitting for someone doesn't have to call down "The Curse." Just be judicious in what you're knitting and in the type of yarn you use. I can guarantee that the more expensive the yarn, the worse "The Curse" will be.

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