Archive for March, 2009

The Search for the Perfect Scarf

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

What constitutes the perfect scarf?  I imagine that every knitter of scarves (and wearer of scarves) would answer that question differently, but for me, my perfect scarf combines softness, warmth, an ideal size and weight, and (of course) a beautiful pattern and wearable color.  I have yet to achieve my perfect scarf, although I have come close and continue to strive.

I knit this red scarf many, many moons ago and although it is a great color (RED!), I didn’t give full consideration to fiber content and so it is a bit scratchy.  (Some uncharitable persons might say quite scratchy.)  It’s also a little too bulky for everyday wear.

I made this rust colored lace scarf several years ago when I started knitting again. (Obsessionally, as it has turned out, but that’s a post for another day…)  It’s made of a cotton/alpaca yarn, and while it has a great weight and hand, it’s a little scratchy and a little too skinny to be really warm.  Great color, though, and a nice long length.

This scarf is made out of Morehouse Merino laceweight–in some ways the perfect scarf yarn, being at once lightweight, soft, and warm.  However, the pattern I chose here (feather and fan) and the narrowness of the scarf are not the perfect foil for the yarn.  Like other very lightweight narrow lace I’ve experimented with, the pattern creases up vertically and the beauty of the lace is lost.  Plus, this scarf is really too light to really be warm; it’s more in the nature of a pretty but not-very-functional accessory.

This pink scarf is knit out of a beautiful wool/silk yarn, and I chose a simple open ribbing pattern that has a great thick and scrunchy texture.  The yarn is wonderfully soft, but unfortunately so soft and loosely spun that it quickly began to get fuzzy and pill-y.  The color was gorgeous in the skein, but started to look pretty dingy after one season of wear.

My sister knit this for me several years back, and it is wonderful in several ways.  The yarn is a very soft wool that doesn’t itch, and the scarf itself is long and dramatic, good for wrapping around the neck several times and pretending one is a chic and urbane Frenchwoman.  And then there are those wonderful ruffles that look like something you might find on a coral reef.  Problem is, it’s sooo long and dramatic that it’s not really an everyday sort of scarf, and those wonderful ruffles make it hard to tuck into a coat.  And, it has this:

See that little hole there?  While I’m a super knitter, I’m not such a super fixer of knits.  Too lazy, alas.

This is my favorite scarf, the scarf I wear almost every day, and to date the nearest I have come to scarf perfection.  It’s made out of that aforementioned perfect scarf yarn, Morehouse Merino laceweight, in a simple open ribbing pattern that is dense and scrunchy and stretchy and warm.  The color goes with everything that I wear, and it’s the perfect length to fold over once, tuck the ends through the loop, and poke the free ends down the front of my winter coat.  Only one problem:  in really cold weather it’s just not that warm because it’s not quite dense enough and allows cold air down the front of my coat.

There are other scarves, of course, some that I’ve made for other people, some that are actually smoke rings or Mobius strips, some made of handspun, some that are even (gasp!) woven.  They all have their place and their time.  This winter I made two scarves–one a very manly scarf for my brother-in-law out of a tweedy charcoal wool/silk/cashmere blend and the other a reversible cabled scarf out of handspun.  They are both very nice, in their way, although perfection in this as in all things remains just out of reach.