Now that we’re past Labor Day, the weather SHOULD be getting colder–sorry West Coast and Southwest US, y’all might skip fall entirely for summer conditions–it is a great time to talk a little about scarves!
Right, cause who DOESN’T know how to make a scarf? Pick a stitch and go nuts!
Well, there’s is a LITTLE more to it than that. Besides, if you aren’t careful you’ll end up with striped scarf that looks like this guy’s:
Now, that is probably the most popular accident a knitter has made in all of television history (for those of you who don’t know the story, in the early 1970’s, a woman by the name of Begonia Pope was asked to make this for The Doctor and had been given no instruction on how long to make it. She used all the wool given to her and wound up with basically this beauty. The studio ran with it and used various lengths of similar scarf as filming required–at one point in the series this scarf is 24 feet long!), but you may not want to walk around with such a LONG scarf!
So what do you need to do when you’re making a scarf? Remember four big questions:
- Who is it for?
- How long is it?
- What stitch(es) am I using?
- What colors/pattern am I using?
Who is it For?
Making a scarf for yourself or no one is very different than making a scarf as a gift. If you’re trying to make a gift scarf (Christmas is just over 100 days away!), it is better to use a stitch and style of yarn you are comfortable with already. Mostly to keep the project lower stress and to keep from having messy stitching or ruining yarn. If you’re making a scarf for yourself (and don’t mind if it’s messy) or just for fun, it’s a good time to try a new stitch or stitches and go nuts with whatever yarn you can find.
How Long is it?
Maxi scarf? Infinity Scarf? Baby scarf? Kid scarf? Dad Scarf? Dog scarf? That may seem more like a list of who is it for, but since you already answered that question, all of those things refer to the length of the scarf. Generally speaking, you’ll want to make a scarf that is as long as the wearer is tall. So if you’re 5 foot nothing, you’ll want a 5 foot scarf. That will give you an average length scarf for the wearer. A Maxi scarf will generally be about twice as long as the wearer is tall, so that 5 foot nothing person from earlier would need a 10 foot maxi scarf.
An infinity scarf can be a little tricky because it depends on how many wraps you want out of it, but generally about 1.5 times the wearer’s height is a good start (7.5 feet for that 5 foot person), just tack the two ends together and test it before you sew the ends to finish.
Trying to fit for a pet can be a little tricky as well. Measure your animal’s front leg from floor to shoulder and double that to get a (usually) accurate length. Very short animals (like tiny and small dogs) may need special adjustments for length so the scarf goes around their collar and doesn’t drag on the floor.
DISCLAIMER: Please, please, please, if you are going to make a scarf for your animal remember that it is ONLY a decorative item. Scarves should NEVER be tied tightly around anyone’s neck and should never take the place of a collar or leash for an animal. Do NOT leave an animal loose outside while they have a scarf on. It can become tangled in fences or native landscape (trees, bushes, rocks, etc…) and choke the animal.
What Stitch(es) am I Using?
Very much like asking how long the scarf should be, there is a little bit of thought that should go into which stitch you are going to use. If the scarf is for practice, this is a great way to try out new stitches new ways to blend stitches (like switching from double crochets to crocodile in the middle of the work or knitting cables). If you want to do the scarf up as a gift, it may be a better time to stick to something tried and true, or at least something you’re comfortable with.
You can pull out any stitch encyclopedia or just check out a random stitch on New Stitch a day to make a scarf with. They’re a great way to practice if you don’t mind being a little messy sometimes. The real reason that you may not want to pick a new stitch for a gift is because undoing the work can hurt the yarn and unfamiliar stitches (especially cable work for me) can lead to a lot of “re-dos.”
What Colors/Pattern am I Using?
Wait, I thought this wasn’t about using a pattern?
You’re right. But in this case, I mean something more like a checkerboard pattern or stripes or basket weave or something of that nature, not a pattern that tells you every step like you would find in a pattern book.
When you’re choosing colors and patterns there are really only a couple things to consider:
- Will the person I’m making this for like it?
- Does the pattern work with the color?
If you’re going to make your husband a scarf in the colors of his favorite sports team, make sure that you get the RIGHT colors. I’m sure that he’ll wear that neon yellow and maroon scarf, but Barn Red and Gold were probably better choices for your Bay Area football fan. In the same fashion, if your little girl loves pink, don’t make her a mostly green scarf. This seems like a lot of common sense, but it needs to be said.
I have more than once gone into the store for yarn and found a yarn I REALLY want to work with, but the colors just aren’t what I need. There is a real temptation to just buy the yarn anyway and think “oh, they won’t care…” but don’t. Instead, remember that this is a project for someone and that what they would like is more important than that cool yarn. Again, it seems silly, but I’VE done it, so I want you all to learn from my mistakes.
When it comes to mixing patterns and colors the BIGGEST thing to watch out for is making people dizzy! Mixing a variegated yarn with a basket weave pattern might not be the best idea if the variegated is a busy set of colors. There is such a thing as TOO much going on, even when it comes to something so simple as a scarf.
The final thing to think about is how many colors you’re going to use. When it comes to stripes like the picture above, you can use almost an infinite number of colors (that actually a really good way to clean up your scraps collection), but if you’re doing colorwork, you may want to stick with two or three colors instead.
Ultimately scarves are a great way to just go nuts! Have fun with it and if you don’t like it, pull it out and do something else!