Friday, January 31, 2014

Say What?

Angela Boehm, who has made a tremendous number of scarves for Chase the Chill, comes up with some really fun ones that I'll be sharing with you throughout the year.

Today's pattern shows two of them. They're the exactly the same, except for the colorways. She tricked me, because it took a bit of scrutiny to figure out that these scarves are based on the granny square technique.

That alone makes "Great Granny" and ideal project for beginning crocheters.

Click here to download the instructions for "Great Granny".

Thursday, January 30, 2014

You Asked For It...Sort Of

The "Split Personality" two-color cable scarf featured earlier in January was so popular that I've created another fun cable for today, "Aran Braid".

It's easier than the two-color cable. Yes, really.

In fact, with each part a different color, it leads to an intuitive approach to understanding cables and catching onto the color- and row-repeats. I was thankful for this because it's about all I could handle while flat on my back in bed with a cold.

Click here to download the instructions for "Aran Braid".

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chicken Soup Didn't Help

Yesterday I was ready to kill every living thing in the house. The lone survivor would have been Cat because she runs too fast for me to catch.

Obviously,  I'm still battling a bug. I spent the day in bed,  blaming my husband for bringing home a cold, rather than prepping a scarf pattern.   So yesterday's free scarf will be free again today.

I have scarves ready, but take the photographs and format the instructions the day before release.

Up next...Not Fair Isle, but rather intense colorwork with a smidge of embroidery...Now on the blocking surface and coming soon to your inbox.

Unless this cold kills me.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Texture: This Girl’s Best Friend

I'm a texture girl. Colorwork is wonderful, but given a choice between, say, entrelac and Fair Isle, I'll go with the entrelac every time.

So it's no surprise that I went on a bobbles jag two years ago. Sometimes you just have to get these things out of your system. It wasn't until I entered my 30s that I truly understood that this was the motivation for many artists who create a series of work on a theme or technique.

Anyhow, back to today's scarf. It's a rather simple neck warmer that's just long enough to wrap around your neck and tuck into the front of your coat.

The bobbles add interest, and a knit loop at one corner wraps over a button on the opposite corner to keep the "Drops" scarf from slipping when worn.

The pattern includes a photo tutorial for a bobble.

Click here to download today's pattern, "Drops".

Monday, January 27, 2014

I Am Thankful... be reminded, yet again, that there are germs in the world to cull the herd. Or, in this case, knock one particular gal on her back for a couple of days.

The free scarf offered on Sunday has been extended to the end of the day Monday. Apologies to everyone playing the game with me.

Come hell or high water, there will be a new scarf for Tuesday.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fast and Furious: The Stitcher Sequel

Have you ever watched a Sheep to Shawl event? It's fun seeing the shearing, yarn preparation, and weaving coalesce as a finished piece in so short a time span.

Participating in one is exhilarating. My experience is with knit and crochet, rather than weaving, and the events have an abbreviated format: We start with clean roving that is ready to be carded and turned into yarn by a team of two or three spinners. As each batch is finished, it's handed to the stitcher. I've been lucky enough to do this at a zoo, near the farm animal exhibit, and at the outdoor Easton Farmers' Market.

Today's scarf, "Enchantment", is a spin-off (nyuk, nyuk) of the shawl pattern I developed for the 2011 event. Spinning started at 9 am, so my sticks were moving by 10. The piece was finished at 2 pm. Yes I’m fast, but the design, worked sideways, is designed for speed, repetition, and visual interest.

Go here for the complete instructions, including a photo tutorial for the one-over-two bind off.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Super Super Bulky Yarn

We're fast approaching the time of year when Polar Fleece goes on sale. These days, though, the material is so popular that unless you're right on the spot when the new price goes up, all you'll see is the well, really weird prints. Really. Weird.

Who in their right mind, for example, though it would be a good idea to print yardage with cartoon-like dancing vegetables? I was gobsmacked when I saw it. And had to buy it. That became my first fleece fabric scarf, knit in simple garter stitch. The colors looked super and the veggies disappeared when I turned the material into yarn.

That scarf went into the first annual Chase the Chill bombing four years ago. And I promptly forgot about it.

Then a friend showed me some examples of arm knitting. How cute and fun.

The really loose gauge, however, doesn't appeal to me. You can double strand two super bulkies. It occurred to me, though, that I could cut polar fleece to any width and use it as the yarn. And thus we have "To Arms".

Which you can download the instructions to by clicking here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Round and Round

The yarn featured in today's scarf drove me bonkers. Come to think of it, designing the scarf did the same.

Who doesn’t love a soft, fluffy fur yarn in cheerful colors? Of course I bought it as soon as it caught my eye. The problem, though, was creating a scarf that isn't the same-old one- or two-color length of garter stitch.

I tried wraps. Big cables. Color blocks. Stripes. Nothing gave me that "Aha!" moment.

Deciding to give a lacing effect a whirl, I made small buttonholes, marking each one with a long fabric strip knotted into a loop. AHA!

Along the length of the scarf—and inserted while knitting the rows—are unattached loops that move and drape independent of the body of the scarf.

I called today's scarf "Free Wheeling". Click here to download the instructions.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Winter Wonderland

Winter is a wonderful time, filled with snowmen and skiing and crisp, fresh air . . . none of which I enjoy. It's freakin' cold here in the northeast.

The only solution is to bundle up. You can laugh in the face of the chill with this scarf, "Snowballs".

It's a quick crochet project that's worked with a bulky chenille and a join-as-you-go process.

Warm Snowballs. What a concept.

Click here for the instructions for how to crochet "Snowballs".

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Damn that Stitch

Back in November of last year I wanted a colorful, spongy scarf with pronounced ribs. Brioche is a perfect match, so I set about teaching myself how to work it.

Overconfident sot that I am, I started with the two-color brioche. In the near future you'll see the instructions for that scarf. But, as I note in that pattern, do not … DO NOT… attempt the two-color brioche until you've worked out the basics with today's one-color version.

In fact, I resorted to the one-color version after a week or so of daily cursing sessions.

The brioche is a simple two-stitch repeat that involves three actions: a slip stitch, yarn over, and knit or purl two together. For brevity, this action is shortened to something like "syo brk1/brp1". I stumbled over these abbreviations.

As I researched, I also found that instructions leave out information that can make the process easier.

Another problem is the slip stitch. I didn't find any instructions that indicated this should be purlwise. After experimenting I worked this out. Now here's the kicker: Sometimes you need to slip a stitch knitwise.


Also, end-of-row counts usually count the yarn over and slip stitch as a single stitch. What?!

So. Today's scarf instructions are detailed. Very. Detailed. I hope that you finish "Brioche for All" in record time and wonder, "Why on earth did Susan find this stitch difficult?"

Click here to download the very detailed instructions for "Brioche for All".

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Impatient Girl

Unconventional materials have been part of my textile art and retail products for a handful of years. I've worked with VHS tape, electrical wiring, Christmas lights, and the more common t-shirt yarn (tarn).

My husband, B, didn't even blink when I started cutting up some material to stitch.

The inspiration, as is obvious by the scarf's name "So Sari", are the yarns made with sari mill ends. The beautiful fabric scraps are plied with a long-beard conventional yarn, such as mohair or fun fur. It's gorgeous stuff.

I'm not keen on purchasing it when I want to stitch NOW. So I made my own.

Today's instructions explain my complete process, from yardage through to fastening off the knitting.

Click here to download the instructions for "So Sari".

Monday, January 20, 2014

Doing It Right

The January 10 scarf encouraged you to break the rules as you worked with the chenille yarn. You embraced its tendency to worm (loops working free of the finished surface by stitching loosely.

Today, however, I'm offering you a "Cuddle Bug". It's the exact opposite. The snug gauge and the stitch pattern combat worming.

Click here to download the directions to "Cuddle Bug".

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Going Round and Round

It’s great when the piece you make is reversible. It’s even better when each side has a different, but just as appealing, look. You get two times the fashion statement with the effort of a making only one cowl. The effect of today’s pattern, "Swirls", does just that.

But those characteristics weren’t the launching point of the quest for a new design. I was playing with the two-color spiral crochet technique, applying it to hats I sell at the Easton Farmers’ Market. Like usual, this stitching led to a “what if” scenario that soon took on a life of its own. (By the way, this exploration pre-dates my I-cord obsession, which I mentioned last week. Coincidence? I think not.)

Click here to download the directions for "Swirls".

Saturday, January 18, 2014


There's a saying that goes something like this: "They don't know what you don't tell them."

In other words, if your presentation omits a bit of information, the only person who knows is you...unless the missing item is included in the class description or handouts.

I bet you know what I'm going to do now: Tell you what is missing.

A couple of days ago I decided to make my own fabric yarn, like the kind you can purchase that's made from sari material.

The scarf is finished, the how-to photos are finished. The tutorial explaining what—and how much—yardage to buy, as well as how to create continuous lengths of the fabric-yarn . . . they're all finished.

My photographer, Robert Gerheart, even created the most fantastic scarf shots outside in the dark.

The layout? I. Just. Ran. Out. Of. Time.

So today's offering, "Your First Project", is the fall-back plan. If you teach, go ahead and use it for the beginner classes to teach working a color repeat that doesn’t change at the same time as the stitch pattern repeat, as well as stockinette and reverse stockinette stitches, working sideways, and end-of-row color changes.

Click here for the directions to "Your First Project".

Friday, January 17, 2014

Twist and Shout

Do you own a cable needle? Or are you a cable-hater? Sure, the look is gorgeous, but sliding stitches onto the cable needle and then knitting them off after the twist bugs some people. Then there's another gang that avoids cables because they're bulky.

Today's scarf, "No-Cable Cable" overcomes these hurdles, with its two-stitch cable. It is so easy.

Click here for the instructions for the "No-Cable Cable".

Thursday, January 16, 2014


As a designer, it's important to keep up with trends: colors, textures, hemlines...the whole nine yards. Knowing doesn't mean the stitcher’s work has to be trendy, but it helps to know that, say, a certain color scarf won't appeal because it clashes with the color of winter coats on the rack that season.

After thirty-mumble-mumble years in the home arts, I'm noticing that the stitching and fashion worlds are colliding more often. Have you noticed all the super-bulky knitted cowls appearing on runways these days?

It's a fabulous look. But I'm cold sheep. And there's so little yardage on a ball of super bulky that buying enough can be an issue.

Here's my solution: triple strand. Like double stranding, all you're doing a holding strands together and working them as one. That's what today's featured scarf, "Triple Take", is about.

So, check out how to do it and download today's pattern, "Triple Take" here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Enough About the Knitting

Last week was knitting, knitting, knitting. And a smidge of crochet. I didn't realize there wasn't a balance of the two techniques until the week was over. Odd, considering I'm more known in the crochet community.

To make amends, the "True Mobius" scarf is crocheted. And it's special because the way it's stitched adheres to the mobius principle. A mobius is more than a circle with a twist.

There are oodles of patterns that tell you to cast on—or chain—a number of stitches, give the length a twist, and then knit or crochet round and round. You’re building rows up from the starting point.

There are true mobius patterns, of course, but they aren't as common. And don't get me started on the patterns that are worked up in rows before seaming the ends together.

For a knit or crochet version, a real mobius starts in the center. It's twisted so that every round you work builds stitching on both sides of the center. This means every row has twice the circumference of the finished work.

"Ode to Hal" introduces the true crocheted mobius. I've included a photo tutorial for getting started, which is the challenging part of this project. The scarf is named for a friend, an engineer who is obsessed with sculpting interpretations of math shapes, equations, and concepts.

Click here to download the instructions and see how it's done.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Introducing Angela

I first met Angela Boehm when she joined Chase the Chill a few years ago. After learning about our need for scarves, she promptly bowled me over with her prolific knitting and crocheting. (Of course she does both.)

In any given year Angela creates hundreds—yes, hundreds—of scarves for the annual bombing and giveaway.

At one point, her quest for variety led to working her way through the patterns and stitches in reference books.

In addition to her generosity, I admire her willingness to try new things. Today's pattern, for example, evolved because Angela taught herself broomstick crochet, practiced, and then designed this scarf.

Angela has been learning about pattern testing, and is now dipping her toes into designing professionally.

Here's her "Purple Peacock" pattern.

Monday, January 13, 2014

What Happened to the Plan?

Flipping through a notebook I filled with stitched samples, notes, and photos about 15 years ago, I came across some mitered corner experiments. Among the samples is a scrap-yarn piece that's worked with a space dye.

I love the way that the long lengths of color give the illusion that there are multiple yarns. So decided to use this stitched scrap as the launching point for a new scarf. Since I had also been thinking about the log cabin quilt pattern, it seemed a good idea to combine the two, using three yarns. The finished effect certainly doesn't resemble the log cabin but, when playing around with yarn, I often end up somewhere I didn't intend to go. But it's "Just Around the Corner"...

Click here for the instructions for today's pattern, "Just Around the Corner".

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Do you ever get caught up in a process, technique, or type of yarn? It happened to me last spring. I went on a massive I-cord jag. Massive. For two months every time I picked up the sticks I knitted yet more I-cord.

Today's scarf is called "I Love I-Cord". Surprise…surprise.

The challenge with this project was to create I-cord  warm enough to be a winter scarf. Since I-cord doesn't work as well with more than eight stitches on the double-pointed needles, a single strand wasn't thick enough. Doubled yarn was too unwieldly.

Braiding was the obvious solution. Three strands wasn't enough. The four-braid process I settled on is shown and explained in the pattern instructions.

Click here to download them...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Long, Lean, and Curvy

Designed and stitched by Claudia McGill
Photo by Robert Gerheart

Boundless creativity. That's probably the best way to describe my friend Claudia McGill.

She's an amazing artist. If you live in or around Philadelphia or the Lehigh Valley there's a good chance you've seen her delightful ceramic houses. Or, perhaps, have taken a class from her.

Her artistic skills aren't limited to one medium. Check out her collages and her award-winning blog "Claudia McGill and Her World of Art".

So it was little surprise when she announced she had some "Scarfghetti" (her name for it…how fun) to drop off for Chase the Chill.

I couldn't resist showing it to you, so it became today's featured scarf.

Click here to learn all about how to make "Scarfghetti" !

Friday, January 10, 2014

Listening to Others

I had absolutely no plans to include "Baby It's Cold Outside" in the Year of Scarves. It was, instead, whipped up as another contribution to the annual Chase the Chill scarf giveaway and bombing.

My stitching group, which gathers every Saturday morning at my studio in Easton, PA, has a Chase the Chill  show-and-tell. When I pulled out this giant, pink, snuggly work the gals asked me about the stitch. It's just plain old garter (knit every row). The yarn makes it look trickier.

Well, chenille can be a stinker.

Click here to go to the pattern for "Baby It's Cold Outside"...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It Ain't That Hard

Are you tired of reading project introductions that tell you the stitching is a breeze? When you stumble, do you sometimes holler, "You lied!"? Maybe that's only me.

Laughing in the face of danger, I'm telling you that today's "One Color, Two Color" scarf, which features the fisherman rib, is easy. It looks like every row requires two colors, carrying and twisting as you go.

HA! Every row is worked in only one color. One. And the scarf is reversible—no floats on the wrong side.

The pattern is free. Download it. Try it. Prove me wrong. I dare ya.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Missing My Garden

The hyacinth stitch took my breath away the first time that I saw it. Only a black and white photo of a swatch, it still held such beauty. I found it in an old stitch compendium.

At first I thought the stitch had an impact on me because I was yearning for my spring garden.

But, no, it's the elegant movement of the yarn strands, and the dimensional effect that captured me. "Dreaming of Spring" is not a scarf for beginning stitchers. If you tackle this lacework now, however, you'll have an exquisite accessory by the time the flowers are budding.

Click here to download the directions to "Dreaming of Spring".

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chicken and Egg

I learned to crochet before I knit. Luckily, though, my grandmother made sure I was introduced to both knitting and crocheting while I was still young enough to learn to enjoy both. So I can't say I have a preference for one or the other.

That's why you are getting free instructions for both crocheted scarves and knitted scarves. In fact, I've made both knit and crochet versions of quite a few stitch patterns. This knit pattern, "Dreamweaver", is a good example.

There's been a bit of a struggle, however, deciding the order that I'll release projects. Do I present the knitted version one day and the crocheted interpretation the next? Or put one out there and give the date that the other will be released? What do you think?

Click here for the "Dreamweaver" pattern instructions.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Since January 1, I have become a clock watcher.

As the midnight hour speeds toward me like an out-of-control train, I continue preparing the next day's offering.

Since January 1, I’ve only had to stitch one scarf, "Diva’s Boa", as the rest were made well before the start of the year. The how-to photos, instructional clean up, layout, and upload are executed in the hours leading up to the release.

And so it is with the no-purl cowl. It's just shy of 8 p.m. as I finish the how-to photos for the wrap-and-turn tutorial.

Ever the optimist, I'm certain that I'll have a normal schedule because I have managed to shave off an hour or so each day.

And leaving you with that thought, here are the instructions to  today's aptly named scarf, "Zipping Along"...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Confession

I do not like purling. Not one bit. Except for k1-p1 stitch patterns because it's fun to flip the yarn strand to the front and back of the work with every stitch.

You know the Michelin Man shown in commercials? He needs a circular scarf, not the long, plain one on the original rendering. I achieved the effect with wide unblocked ribbing. But I'll be damned if I was going to work purl rows.

For a change this scarf didn't go through endless iterations, perhaps because the technique for short rows has been part of my repertoire for decades.

Click here to check it out and download the instructions...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Boa Without the Novelty Yarn Price Tag

Dipping a toe in the water is for wimps. It's best to run off the end of the diving board at full speed. Without diving lessons. And so it was with today's scarf.

Browsing through an old version of The Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches (yup, reading charts and symbols for pleasure) I encountered the astrakhan. It immediately became the featured stitch for a t-shirt yarn (tarn) large rug project had been percolating.

What I like about this long, loopy stitch is that it's more secure than the common loop stitch and makes it possible to stitch up a boa-like creation usually reserved for novelty yarns. It adds excitement to a plain yarn, stability to a weaker core, and loop volume to a lighter weight yarn.

Click here to download the instructions and learn how to make your own...

Friday, January 3, 2014

Color vs. Technique

What happens when a cable isn't the primary feature of a scarf? In a single color, cable work takes center stage. Although I'm more of a technique/stitch/process kinda gal, in my mind's eye I saw color taking center stage for this scarf.

Development was easy because, after all, this scarf is nothing but a central cable flanked by seed stitch. I didn't even swatch. The project took way longer than anticipated, however, because people kept buying the scarf before I could take photos of the finished piece. And that's why the yarn for the how-to photos in the pattern are a different color.

Click here to download today's pattern and see how it's done.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

It’s All About the Sheep

The vision was a scarf that used both knit and crochet in a meaningful way.  Having recently completed several morning glory vine-like scarves, I wanted this new project to represent an ivy-covered trellis. But it was not to be.

The trellis yarn needed the strength to hold its shape when saddled with the weight of the vine, and enough grip to prevent the woven vine from slipping around. But Briggs & Little Heritage looked so pretty that I pitched out the ivy concept. Maybe for another scarf.

I've always loved this strong, warm B&L yarn that's spun from the sturdy creatures residing on Canada's east coast.

Click here for the instructions for today's offering.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Scrappy Scarf

Over on my Years of Scarves discussion group on Ravelry, my friends have been telling me I need to give them enough lead time to make themed scarves before the event date. So here you go. You have an entire year to collect the materials to make this baby. That's what I do.

Your assignment: As you knit and crochet your way through 2014, save all of your yarn scarps. Anything 6" to a small ball. Don't worry about coordinating colors, textures, weight (thickness).

At the end of every year I create a scrappy scarf to celebrate what I've made that year, either knit or crocheted, by jumbling all the yarn ends and odd balls together and then tying them together end-to-end.

The complete process is explained in the instructions on Ravelry, here.

I did four of these last year. This wasn't because I was fine tuning the pattern. I kept selling them before I managed to take photos to include with the instructions. (The first scarf was part of the Chase the Chill bombing). A gift shop owner saw me wearing  the next and bought it right off my neck. The third was in the gallery at the Family YMCA of Easton, Phillipsburg and Vicinity, for an exhibit of Chase the Chill scarves being bombed that year, and photos of past years. That one didn't make it to the end of the show.

The first year I made a scrappy scarf, at 32 stitches, it was too wide.  But I still like them really, really long. They need to be for visual balance with all the ends dangling.

My final bits of advice: Don't sweat the small stuff. And find some child slave-labor to tie all the ends together. Plug in a movie. They’ll be fine.