Here’s the Mustardseed Scarf I’ve been knitting for my brother-in-law. It’s photographed next to the Chanel Style Bag. Both knitting patterns are from Jane Brocket‘s The Gentle Art of Knitting. (I went to the book launch at Loop back in May.)
I want to make almost everything in this book. What I particularly like about this title is that it isn’t aligned with a wool supplier. Many are, Rowan being the most high profile. That’s fine, they make gorgeous patterns – but they only recommend their own wool brands. Jane’s book has allowed me to venture beyond the larger companies and explore gorgeous other wools. Gorgeous, expensive other wools! There’s a knitted rug that I really want to make, but I’m still trying to come to terms with how much the wool will cost. I don’t know why I feel guilty about the spends on knitting, when I seem to happily throw money at sewing. Can’t figure that one out. Especially as it’s true what people say – decent wool makes the world of difference to a make.
And decent wool was used on this scarf. It’s Malabrigo Worsted, a 100% merino wool that is so soft against the skin. It comes in beautiful colours; no photo can do it justice. This scarf has variations of colour weaved through it from aubergine to chocolate.
In my opinion, it would be criminal to block this make. For knitting novices, blocking is when you dampen and very gently press the pieces of a knitted garment in order to give them shape or allow a lace pattern to reveal itself. There’s a good explanation here. But if I blocked this scarf, I’d flatten out the fabulous 3D effect that the row repeats give it:
I am going to chance my arm and say that if you managed to knit the Sensational Snood, you could knit a scarf like this. The only stitches it uses are knit and purl and a repeating 10-row pattern. You already know how to knit and purl! You could definitely make the Chanel Style bag, as that uses moss stitch which is just a repeat of knit one, purl one across a row. (For a great run down of knitting basics, including moss stitch, visit A Sewing Odyssey here.)
If you don’t want to invest in a book, you can still make a scarf easy-peasy. Choose a wool you like – I’d suggest an aran weight. Anything finer, and your scarf will be ready to wear just in time for summer! Then buy the right size needles (the wool band will recommend the needle size). Cast on an appropriate number of stitches – this pattern uses an aran weight wool and 35 stitches – and knit until you think your scarf is long enough. It’s that simple. The only advice I would give is to consider how scratchy your wool feels and how close it’s going to be to the tender skin of a throat – think merino, not tweed!
But if you have an Amazon wish list and want a knitting book for Christmas, you could do worse than point your nearest and dearest in the direction of Jane’s book. Her writing style is warm, friendly and down-to-earth and she has consciously made the patterns easy to knit. As she says at the start of the book:
‘Before you cast on, I should emphasise that this book is about the gentle art of knitting in that it is all about stress-free, relaxed, enjoyable, contemplative knitting that is a pleasure, not a chore.’
I found it very telling that each evening as I put my knitting down, I would flick through the book and just read and enjoy. I don’t do this with any other of my knitting books. Oh, and did I mention? On page 16, Jane makes wine recommendations to go with winter evenings of knitting.
Now, that’s my kind of woman. A glass of Australian Shiraz, anyone?