Scene in a car:
DAUGHTER: That's a pretty scarf, Mom. How do you get the colors to do that?
MOTHER: The yarn is self-striping, but if you knit it by itself it gives longer, less defined runs of color. To get these more defined stripes that move from color to color, you alternate two skeins of different color numbers.
The yarn's brand name is Noro. It's a Japanese yarn, and they do interesting and unexpected things with colors. Lots of bloggers have been knitting these scarves this month, and because it's Noro yarn being knitted in the month of November, people have taken to calling it "Norovember."
FATHER: [laughing] You people need therapy.
I finished the Noro striped scarf...
...and immediately cast on for another.
I learned some things while doing the first, and I'm applying that knowledge to the second one.
1) Doing the scarf with an odd number of stitches cast on is annoying if one is slipping the first stitch of each row. With an odd number of stitches, the slipped stitch at the beginning is then followed with a non-symmetrical knit on one end and purl on the other, requiring a mini-I.Q. test each and every freaking row to remember which way to pull the yarn before and after the first slipped stitch. Maybe it's just me, but it resulted in unevenness of the two selvedges, and more-than-necessary frustration at each row, trying to remember -- forward or back? behind or in front of? around or under? Sheesh. This is supposed to be a mindless scarf, non?
So the second one is 38 stitches. Slip the first stitch, pull the yarn forward, between, and back, knit the next stitch. No taxing of the brain. I can't afford to tax the brain. Call me Simpleton if you wish -- I never claimed to be a technically great knitter -- but this makes more sense to me.
2) This yarn is a Velcro wannabe. It wants to felt, and the two skeins tangle like a mofo with all that back-and-forthing. So this time I rolled the two skeins into nice, neat balls, which makes it easier for me to keep the two strands neatly separated whilst knitting...
...and just happened to make for a nice photo op in the fluffy-falling snow with my new camera.
3) There were three times when, much to my surprise, both skeins of the first scarf ended up being so close in color that the striped effect became obliterated. When that happened, I simply cut the yarn of one of the skeins and took out the matchy-matchy portion, and continued on knitting with whatever contrast color came up next. There are parts of the scarf where I'm not so fond of the color combos, but on the other hand, I often would think, "This is my favorite part of the scarf. No, this is. No. This. Wait, THIS." Noro provides a lot of color entertainment bang for the buck, and I think this scarf pattern is the best use of Noro yarn ever.
So far, I love the colors of the second scarf even better than the first -- more jewel-tone, less autumnal. BUT I purchased the "new" skeins locally, and I'm guessing they've been around a while. There is one helluva lot more prickly vegetable matter in these skeins than there was in the ones I recently purchased from Webs and used in the completed scarf above. Webs, of course, goes through a lot more stock than a local Vermont shop, and perhaps Noro's Silk Garden has undergone some improvements in the time since that Vermont shop's stock has been sitting in the bins. Or did I just hit it lucky with the Webs purchase? I guess we'll never know.
The specs of the completed scarf: Noro Silk Garden, Colors 217 and 230, 2 skeins of each; Size U.S. 7 Denise needle; 37 stitches; 6 in. wide by 72 in. long, unblocked. Soft and warm and big and cozy. A wonderful scarf.