This is the beginning of a scarf story. It begins with a ball of yarn. Brooklyn Tweed 'Shelter' in Button Jar, to be exact:
Actually, truth be told, it starts much earlier. Years back, in my pre-blogging days, I knit my father a cabled scarf for Christmas in soft, tweedy, pea green wool. At the time I wasn't even sure if he'd wear a scarf! But he loved it and wore it faithfully through many cold New England winters.
All good garments run their course, though, and this year it was time for a replacement. At first I set out about carefully reconstructing the original scarf. But this turned out to be impossible. The original yarn (Queensland Collection Kathmandu) had been discontinued. I couldn't find anyone on Ravelry who was willing to sell their stashed yarn to me, and the closest substitute turned out to have also been discontinued. So, I decided to try out Shelter, which is a remarkable yarn, woolen-spun in an historic New Hampshire Mill.
And try it out I surely did. I had to swatch nearly an entire skein of yarn before I figured out what to knit with it.
See, Shelter is a woolen spun yarn, which means that the fibers are all whipped up rather than aligned. It gives the yarn an amazing, lofty, pebbled texture. It's such a tactile pleasure to knit and wear, but it also brings challenges for cables or colorwork because you lose a lot of stitch definition.
Dad's original scarf (based on what I can reconstruct from photos) was knit in horseshoe cables and seed stitch in a sportweight yarn. It was understated and gentlemanly. But those slender cables and delicate seed stitches seemed to be swallowed up in the dark sproing of Shelter.
And that's why I ended up endlessly swatching, because I was putting this yarn through its paces, getting acquainted with it and learning about what did and didn't work in it. It was a fascinating process, but it gobbled up so much time that I couldn't actually finish Dad's scarf by Christmas. All he got was a narrow strip of fabric, all bunched up on my needles. It looked more like a snake than a scarf!
I'm nearly done by now, though. I worked on the scarf all through the Christmas weekend. Here I am, knitting in the Phoenix sunshine, with Isis snoozing in the grass behind me ....
To see what I ended up with, you'll have to wait for Part II of the story ....