Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Spot-Dyed Chevron Lace Scarf (with a pattern)

It's been a busy week, too busy to post anything here. I won't bore everyone with the details. We did get our first substantial snowfall, about a foot of it. I was too busy trying to drive in it to be able to revel in all its lovely wool-wearing potential.

Not much of interest is occurring in my fiber-ish projects. Things are progressing. I have no photos of the in-progress stuff, nor would they be of much interest if I did have any.

So, I'll share the saga of a previous project, complete with a pattern and a chart.

Chevron Lace Scarf

The above photo is a scarf I made a few years ago. It's seen a fair amount of use, since it is warm, soft, and more attractive in real life than in the photo. The photo makes the scarf look more blue than it really is.

A friend of mine sent me a couple of ounces of merino roving. It was spot-dyed, to use her terminology. At the end of a fun dyeing session, she'd dripped the last few dye leftovers on this blob of roving. The roving ended up being a mix of various shades of purple, pink, and aqua, with much of it still being white.

I spun it on my spindle and then self-plied it for a variegated 2-ply yarn. I like the way it turned out. It has semi-long stretches of each color, with the variegation providing even more shading. I don't remember the exact yardage or how much it weighed, but I think I had about 2 ounces and roughly two hundred yards of roughly sport-weight yarn.

I didn't have very much yarn, and it was variegated. What to make with it?

I decided on a scarf, using some kind of scalloped pattern. A non-scalloped pattern would have looked too stripey, in my opinion. I like lace, so lace it was. As long as the increases were offset from the decreases, I'd get scalloping.

I could have chosen something like Feather and Fan. But I decided on this chevron lace pattern instead. It's easy, with little counting involved. There's only one pattern row, followed by a plain return row.

It turned out well, in my opinion. The stretches of each color interact well with the pattern. I like the way the different colors transition into each other, and I like the randomness of the striping. Since I didn't have tons of yarn, it's a rather small scarf. It is still adequate for my needs.

What did I learn from this project? A few things:

White is an under-appreciated color, especially in a variegated mix. I have to keep reminding myself of that whenever I haul out the dyepots.

Merino is soft against my neck. It spins differently from some of the other kinds of wool I had been spinning at the time. Its fibers are relatively short. It feels cottony, for lack of a better word. It has a very matte luster. It really sproings up when the yarn twist is set.

Scalloped lace patterns really do work quite nicely with variegated yarn, depending on the length of the variegation.

This was a very good travel project. It's hard to get lost in a pattern with only one simple pattern row! It would be a good beginner lace project, too.

I probably did learn more than that, but those are the things I remember.

The Written Pattern

You can choose any yarn you like. It doesn't have to be variegated. This particular pattern does happen to work well with variegated yarns as long as the length of each color is long enough to form stripes instead of spots. I don't know how it would work with very short color lengths; you'll have to try it and see for yourself

If you'd like to change yarns every now and then, this pattern would work very well with stripes of different colors and/or textures.

Choose a needle size that goes with your yarn. You should probably do some informal swatching to figure out what kind of fabric you like. You also want to see how many repeats of the stitch pattern you want. I was very conscious of my limited quantity of yarn, so I made a narrow and not very long scarf. Yours can be as wide and as long as you wish.

You will be knitting back and forth, i.e., flat knitting. I use circular needles for everything. You can, of course, use straight needles.

Cast on a multiple of 10 stitches, plus 3. I used 43 stitches for my scarf.

For all rows, slip the first stitch of the row as if to purl, with the yarn in front. Knit the last stitch of the row through the back loop.

Knit 2 rows.

Then start the chevron lace pattern. It's a 2-row pattern. The chart is below, if you'd rather work from a chart than from text.

Row 1: slip 1 stitch as if to purl with yarn in front, k2tog, *k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, S2KP2*, ending with k3, yo k1, yo, k3, SSK, k-tbl.

Row 2: purl (except for the edge stitches, as described above)

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until the scarf is long enough or you're almost out of yarn, finishing with row 2. Purl two more rows. Bind off purl-wise on the right side.

Block it. It doesn't need too much. The edges have a slight tendency to curl, since I didn't bother with a garter stitch border on the sides. Get your scarf thoroughly damp and lay it out flat to dry, gently manipulating it to get the lace pattern and the edges to look right.

My abbreviations:

k is knit. p is purl. yo is yarnover. k2tog is knit 2 together. SSK is the left-leaning decrease -- slip two stitches knitwise, one at a time, then stick them back on the left needle and knit them together through the back loops. If you prefer another left-leaning decrease, go ahead and substitute it. S2KP2 is a double decrease -- slip 2 stitches knitwise (together), then k1, then pass the 2 slipped stitches over. You can substitute a different double decrease if you'd rather. k-tbl is knit through the back loop, i.e. a twisted knit stitch. The stuff between the *'s is to be repeated as many times as needed.


If you are feeling ambitious, you can change the lace pattern a bit. Instead of k3's, do k2's or k5's or whatever. Big whoop, right? There are a bunch of other possible changes, but then you start transitioning into other well-known lace patterns with their own well-known names. Heck, even the chevron lace name is only one of several names this stitch pattern is known by.

You can do this as a garter-stitch lace if you like that texture better. Knit all the wrong-side rows instead of purling them. Or knit an occasional wrong-side row instead of purling, similar to some of the standard feather-and-fan variations.

You can do more rows of garter stitch before starting the lace. You can add a garter stitch border if you'd like. Or add rows with eyelets before and after. Or use your imagination!

If you make it wider and choose the yarn appropriately, you can call it a wrap or a rectangular shawl or even an afghan.

The Pattern Chart

Here is the chart for the lace pattern. I didn't show the 2 garter stitch rows at the ends, of course.

I seem to have charted it as if it was a circular pattern instead of a flat pattern, not that it really matters. Just remember that row 2 is a wrong-side row, and thus you'll purl the stitches instead of knitting them (so they look like knit stitches from the front). You'll also go from left to right on the chart, whereas row 1 (the right-side row) goes from right to left.

I also see that I didn't define the double-decrease symbol. It's the one at the left end of the 10-stitch pattern repeat in row 1. I did them as a vertical double decrease (slip 2 knitwise at the same time, knit 1, pass the slipped stitches over). It will look fine if you'd rather substitute some other double decrease.

This is my first time trying to upload a chart to this blog. It was more of a hassle than I expected! I'll have to work on that...


Marie said...

I agree with you about white being unappreciated. I can make the other colors "pop". The scarf is lovely.

The Doily Underground said...


Ever since that scarf, I've often included at least one spot-dyed roving in most dyeing sessions. Most of the time they turn out great. If they don't, I can always overdye.

You definitely have a very talented eye for color; I enjoy looking at what you've done.