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March 9, 2006

The Co-Worker Scarf Redux, plus "Block 'til you drop!"

Hello! We are knitting and blocking our way to emotional well-being here at Chez Crazy! And, really, what better way to explore the world of self-esteem and accomplishment than with sharp sticks, quality string and very VERY hot steam?

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The Co-Worker Scarf, all finished

This is the revised recipe, my original attempt at making this scarf was posted here a few weeks ago. But with only two balls of yarn (and do not let me pass up the 6th grade moment to tell you these are SMALL BALLS) (heh, small balls! I know thee well!) I was afraid I'd end up with a three-inch-long scarf. Not nearly enough to keep this Stay Puft Marshmallow Girl warm on a European adventure (side note: whenever I look for hotels in foreign cities, I call certain establishments "European" hotels, meaning: "You're a' peein' down the hall in a shared bathroom..." and ya'll know. I'm spoilt. I do not pee down the hall. Say what you will.) (Nothing to do with knitting!)

Yarn: Lana Grossa Colore Print in color #005, 100% virgin wool, so soft! How is this wool? No scratchy!
Needles: Size 13 Lantern Moon ebony needles (I splurged)

Revised Pattern:

1) Cast on 16 stitches.

2) Knit three rows of garter stitch, which is when you knit every stitch (no purling.) You can knit more or less than three rows depending on how big you'd like the ends of the scarf to be.

3) On the fourth row, and every row for the rest of the scarf (until you get to the other end where you do the final 3 rows of plain knitting garter stitch to finish it off all symmetrical-like) you follow this pattern:

Knit 3 stitches.
Then, for the next 10 stitches, do this:
    Yarn over, knit two stitches together.
    Yarn over, knit 2 together.
    Yarn over, knit 2 together.
    Yarn over, knit 2 together. (see? so easy!)
    Yarn over, knit 2 together.
Then knit the final 3 stitches of the row.

Do that for every row until your scarf is as long as you want, then knit three final rows of garter stitch, bind off, do happy dance.

Remember, yarnovering is totally easy! There are probably as many ways to do a yarnover as there are to knit a stitch, but I found that if you just do Your Personal Yarnover the same way consistently in this pattern, you'll be OK. This is how I do it:

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Blocking is the new Botox! Fixes wrinkles, cures everything!

This scarf is 100% wool, and I loooooooove to block wool, it makes the stitches look so pretty and it really can make a lot of fabric grow out of two puny balls of yarn. It is magic. Gnomes, probably.

When blocking scarves for fast dry-and-wear (The Great Storm of 2006 is coming this weekend! We may all die! From .... rain!) I always use the Scunci Steamer that Annie gave me as a hostess gift. Best invention ever! The steam doesn't saturate the fabric so the drying time is much faster, and the actual blocking process itself takes about five minutes. In preparation, I put a clean sheet on the twin bed in the guestroom, trying to avoid the feline helpers and I got the pincushion handy. (I use regular old straight pins from JoAnn's.)

Next, I readied the steamer and prepared for greatness.

But in knitting, like all things I guess, there is no one solution that fixes all problems. For this particular scarf, it only took a few seconds to discover that the steamer wasn't the right tool for the job. I wanted to make my scarf grow longer, while at the same time opening up the stitches on the inside. So, to get the scarf to grow both in length and width, I needed an even more powerful and remarkable tool:

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To block the old-school low-tech way, just fill a cheapo spray bottle with warm tap water. Beginning at one end of the scarf, carefully pin the piece into place, stretching both in length and opening the middle stitches as you go. A twin bed is perfect for this because it's plenty long for pinning. After about ten minutes of careful pinning and riduculous amounts of cat help, I sprayed the pinned scarf with water, lightly getting the whole surface damp but nowhere near soaked. You'll be able to tell right away by touching the yarn if it's wet enough -- it becomes pliable at a certain point, and that's all you need. When I had fully pinned and sprayed, I folded the sheet back over the scarf (to prevent further feline help and speed drying time) and voila! You have blocking!

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The scarf grew perfectly, and that close-up doesn't really show how well the pattern opened up in the middle, but ya'll it was like 5 a.m. when I took that picture, and I believe as a rule I should have a good amount of caffeine prior to operating heavy machinery. Really. All in all, though, an excellent blocking adventure, even with the large amount of orange furry help I received.


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Posted by laurie at March 9, 2006 10:24 AM