This was a heavy week for nonprofit work. I had several multi-hour meetings, wrote a meeting summary and action list for a colleague, edited and submitted a two page overview of our grant making group (for marketing purposes), and wrote/submitted a one paragraph version including a calendar (for other marketing purposes). Most of our group's work due before year end is now out of the way, which means I can focus on other non-profit work (and getting ready for Christmas).
I'm making progress on my holiday gift knitting. Since Tuesday I have finished the reversible cabled scarf for Dawn and two pair of fingerless gloves (for my two nieces).
The reversible cabled scarf is based on a class I took the winter of 1992 from Lily Chin. The idea is annoyingly simple: any pattern that looks the same on the front and back will still look the same if you space cables evenly across it. The best effect is from K2P2 ribbing since the purls completely disappear. Knitty.com has a few scarf patterns using this technique (theirs have seed or garter stitch separating the cables, so the resulting scarf is not nearly as thick as mine).
Lily gave her students these guidelines for reversible cables, which I followed in my design:
1) Use much larger needles than usual, since this technique makes for a firm fabric. I used a size 9 needle (5.5 mm) for yarn that called for 3.25-3.75 mm needles. The scarf is still a bit firmer than most scarves, but it does drape pretty well.
2) Use a yarn with at least a bit of a halo (mohair is great). The stitches get a bit distorted in this technique (fuzz makes that less obvious) and big needles means larger air spaces needing some fill in. I used an alpaca yarn with a pronounced halo.
3) Follow the general rules for cables or space them even further apart. The general rule for a cable is to cross it every "x" rows, where "x" is the number of stitches in the cable. For example, a 3x3 cable should be crossed every 6 rows or it will be too tight.
4) Buy lots of yarn. A good rule of thumb is to get twice as much yarn as you normally would for the same length/width scarf. I used 4 balls of light worsted weight yarn (110 yds each) for a scarf that was a little smaller than 5"x6'.
5) Use a split ring marker to mark the front side. Since this is reversible, it is easy to miscount rows and cable on the wrong row. I used a long tail cast on, which has a distinctive right side, to help me keep track.
Here's my pattern. Please send me an email if you like it.
Dawn's Reversible Cabled Scarf
4 skeins Blue Sky Alpaca 100% Alpaca (110 yds, 5-6 st/in)
5.5 mm (US 9) needles
Finished size: ~5"x6'
C8L: Put next 8 stitches on cable needle and hold to back of work. Rib next 8 stitches from left hand needle, then rib 8 stitches from cable needle.
Row 1: Rib 16 sts, C8L, rib 16 sts.
Rows 2-8: Rib.
Row 9: C8L, rib 16 sts, C8L.
Rows 10-16: Rib.
Cast on 48 stitches.
Knit 11 rows K2, P2 rib. Start cable repeat on row 12.
Continue until you are running low on yarn or are happy with scarf length. End scarf with a row 1, then 11 rows of rib. Cast off in rib.
I made my scarf with 20.5 repeats and ended with less than 1 yard of yarn left over.
Here's a close up of the cables.
For the fingerless gloves for my nieces, I used a web pattern (from Purl Bee) called Greenaway Gloves. The original was knit in Alchemy Sanctuary; I used Alchemy Migration (same yardage, same gauge; 30% silk, 70% merino). One skein should be enough for three gloves (1.5 pair). This yarn is so gorgeous that I plan to use up every yard of left over (maybe as cuffs for other pairs of gloves).
I hope the gloves go over well. Justin says fingerless gloves are considered fashionable at his school (a good sign, I hope).