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Finished Red Scarf

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A Finished Red Scarf in its Native Environment

Woohoo! My Red Scarf is finished. It's a bit over 5' long and a bit over 8" wide. It's knit with a simple basketweave stitch (with the first stitch on each edge slipped) using Lamb's Pride Worsted. I used 2 skeins and probably 25%-30% of a third to get it to the length I wanted it to be.

Tonight I'm going to find a pretty ribbon and a card to write a little note and provide some care instructions. And as soon as I can I'm going to head to Borders to get a little gift card so that the recipient of my scarf can indulge in a new book, CD, magazines or whatever other little treat they might like to have for themselves. Call me a geek, but when I was in college being able to add to my music collection and indulge in a shiny new magazine was always a little bit of a treat. I actually got a subscription to Time magazine even back then and always looked forward to it as a break from studying.

And I'd still like to encourage everyone out there who is working on a scarf to perservere! There are still two weeks left and I suspect that there are many students who will love your efforts no matter how simple or complicated. If you would like to see more about the project, you can find more information here.

Just in case you missed the address of the Orphan Foundation of America to send the scarves to earlier this week, I thought I'd post it again:

c/o Care Package
Orphan Foundation of America
21351 Gentry Drive, Suite 130
Sterling, Virginia 20166

P.S. to all of you knee sock lovers out there... first of all, thank you for all your words of praise and support. Kind words are always appreciated. Second, after I finish my socks I'll put all my notes together and make them available to everyone.

Red Scarf in Progress

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Red Scarf in Progress

I'm almost a little embarrassed to be posting this picture. After all, you would have thought that if anyone would have been done with their Red Scarf for the Orphan Foundation of America, it should have been me. In this case, I am a victim of my desire to create something "truly special". This desire gets me in trouble with my knitting all the time. It is why my sister-in-law still doesn't have a felted handbag after a Christmas promise 3 years ago. It is why my aunt is still waiting for a scarf, even though I have the most delicious baby alpaca yarn all ready to go. Believe it or not, this scarf is the 4th iteration after several unsuccessful starts from Knitting in Nature and some ideas that didn't quite work out from a couple of interesting pattern stitches from Barbara Walkers treasure troves.

After the third failure, I realized that I was probably trying to make this too difficult. In my attempt to create something "truly special" I was going to end up getting blocked and not creating anything at all. I also stepped back from it from a bit and had the realization that the "truly special" part of this scarf did not have to be some artistic design. The truly special part was going to be the fact that I invested the time to make something warm for someone who is working hard to make their way in the world with not a lot of support. Amazing that that realization took so long, but sometimes my brain doesn't work in the way that you might expect it to.

After that, I turned back to Barbara Walker in search of something simple, unisex and something that a college student might not mind wearing. I'd never knit anything using a traditional basketweave stitch before, and that seemed to fit all the criteria I had in mind. So I cast on and after watching 6" or so come together rather smoothly, I decided that this was the right pattern for the job. Simple, do-able, but still an interesting texture.

This picture was taken about a week ago. Since then I've gotten through my second skein of Lamb's Pride worsted and I'm about to start on my third (it's only 52" or so long and I think if it were going to be a scarf for me, I'd want it to be at least 60"). It's home stretch time -- I know I'll have time to finish it and get it to where it is supposed to go.

In case you didn't read it on Norma's Red Scarf 2007 project blog here's a reminder that the Orphan Foundation is ready to accept Red Scarves -- you can send them in any time between now an the end of January.

Here's the address:

c/o Care Package
Orphan Foundation of America
21351 Gentry Drive, Suite 130
Sterling, Virginia 20166

As a reminder, the organizers are encouraging everyone to attach a note of encouragement (and care instruction) to the scarves and they would really love it if scarf knitters or other project supporters would consider including some other little gift such as stamps, a gift card, candy, etc. This request made me think back to college -- I always appreciated those little extras from my mom and other family members who remembered me.

If you haven't started yet... there is still time. Get some red yarn, find a simple stitch, and knit like the wind. Remember, what's truly special is that someone took the time to make something for someone else who might need a little boost. There's really nothing in life more truly special than the gift of time.

Red Scarf Inspiration

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You know, I just love my Dad. He's always willing to try new things. Both my parents are this way, actually, but today I'm going to focus on Dad, because he has gone and done something so darn cool, it just makes me smile every time I think of it.

My Dad decided to teach himself how to knit because he wanted to contribute a scarf to the Red Scarf Project.

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Dad's Red Scarf Swatches and Scarves. And His Tractor.
Nothing Knits Like a Deere

The two bright red scarves (on the left and right ends) are made out of Lion Brand WoolEase, the red and white striped scarf is Cascade 220 (red stripes) and Ella Rae (white stripes). The variagated scarf on the tractor seat is James Brett "Marble". It's a little hard to see, but the red scarf on the right side has a lovely textured stitch pattern and the variagated scarf on the tractor seat has a chevron thing going on. And, in case you wonder where Dad is getting his yarn, apparently there is a nice new yarn store in Whitmore Lake (Michigan) that got his business..

One of the many things that makes my Dad a very cool person is that he was one of the first people in his family to go to college. He went to an Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Michigan -- the northernmost point in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Clearly, if anyone can appreciate taking a big risk on an education and needing a scarf in a care package, it's Dad.

To tell you a little more about Dad's start in knitting, I thought I would share an IM conversation that we had. (Gtalk is great because you can get your conversation transcripts via your Gmail account). It lets you see some of his personality better than I could ever do in my own words.

On Why He Started Knitting

me: So did mom teach you how to knit?

Dad: Well not really because she knits in a conventional manner and I wanted to learn continental. So I did. but mom helped me to understand the terminology and what the objectives of the stitches were. Like the bar expand and decreasing and such. Once I know the objective of the stitch I can usally figure out how to do it. Of course all I've done so far is knit and purl.

me: You taught yourself continental? That's how I knit. That's how Judy taught me. So you just decided you wanted to do it yourself?

Dad: Yes. I went on the internet and found a video of how to knit and purl then I practiced a lot.

me: You know, I think I've got just about the coolest dad ever. And really, knitting and purling is all you need to know. There aren't any other stitches. Everything else is just about combining them in different ways.

Dad: I got inspired by your scarf project for orphans and I have one scarf that might be acceptable for that project and I'm working on a third. I decided instead of sitting in front of the TV watching dead bodies being cut up on csi that I could benifit just as much by just listening and knitting.

me: I'm pretty much with you on that one. Although I'm pretty good at knitting stockinette in the round (knit stitch all the time) for socks without looking. I think the red scarf project is really a special project. I don't do much "charity knitting" at all, but this one really hits me in the right place.

Dad: Me too.

me: When I think how lucky I was to have a supportive family, and I realize how many people don't, it just seemed like something I could do to let someone know that there were people out there who want them to succeed, even if we don't know them.

On Swatching and Stashing

Dad: There are only 2 scarves completed and 1 that I'm currently working on. The first "scarf" is just a long piece that is narrow then wide then with may funny stitches and so forth.

me: Even if the first scarf is really just a swatch, that's okay. I have a lot of strange looking little and big swatches myself.

Dad: Swatch is a generous term for it.

me: Grin. Most knitters have a few unique pieces from when they learned. And most spinners have some odd looking yarn. I like looking back at my earlier stuff.

Dad: I did learn a lot on the first few like drop stitches and putting down my knitting forgetting which needle is the left and right which puts in a funny row. I'm sure there are still a few more mistakes I have yet to make.

me: Mistakes are how you learn. I make tons of mistakes. Great thing about knitting: you can always rip things out.

Dad: Tell me about it.

me: Oh, and when you forget that left and right thing and get the extra row, you're actually doing something called a "short row" -- it's a technique used for shaping. So some mistakes can even become "design elements" :-) I like to think knitting has lots of positive health benefits, too. You can't eat while you're knitting, for one. And I think it's very centering and peaceful.

Dad: I agree 100%. When I first started my knitting was real tight and I had all to do to get my needle in to make a new stitch. It is funny when I start doing it right I could tell because it looked right to me. I guess I have watched enough people knitting that when I started knitting right I could tell.

me: It does make me smile to think that now you can share a "stash" with mom.

Dad: She is pretty protective of her stash. I've had to buy my own yarn.

So there you have it -- the birth of a new knitter because of the Red Scarf Project. I'm just dying to teach him how to construct a sock. You gotta think that an engineer will be able to really appreciate sock engineering. Makes me a feel a bit guilty because while I have the yarn for my scarf, I still haven't found a pattern that makes me happy. I might have to come up with something on my own. Talk about some excellent motivation!

And for those of you who haven't checked out this very lovely opportunity to encourage someone on towards their educational goals, I do hope you'll take a look and think about it. You can also check out Norma's Red Scarf 2007 Blog to see what others are doing and find out even more about the project. And learn about opportunities to win some fibery prizes. The older I get, the more I realize how important my education was to helping me get to a good place in life. Every student deserves a cheering section to help them through the rough spots!

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