for a snowy day

candy cane scarf, in progressNina’s candy cane scarf

Years ago, I came across a yarn that was so addictively squishy I couldn’t leave the store without an armload of it. And it’s languished in my stash ever since.

I’m drawn to yarns that are addictively . . . anything, really: bright; shiny; turquoise; not-scratchy; speckled-like-a-hen. All of the yarns that end up in my stash – I have a pretty good idea of the niche they’re going to fill before I buy them. It might be amigarumi (speckled-like-a-hen). Wrist warmers and a cowl that complement my sister’s chestnut hair (turquoise). A hat adorned with ear flaps and pom poms and braided tassels for a six-year old niece (bright and shiny!). A chic ear-warmer headband for her older sister (not-scratchy). Always a niche.

That squishy yarn, though. Not a clue! I let Nina siphon as much of it as she wanted from my stash. She was making better use of it than I was.

On my way to Whole Foods the other day, I went right instead of left and found myself in a local yarn shop I usually avoid. They have a great selection of vegan yarn, but it’s a pain in the ass to find. The vegan yarns are scattered throughout the store but not really organized with other yarns by weight or color or fiber content. Tucked into hard-to-reach corners or up on high shelves, impossible to see let alone get a hold of; an afterthought, really. Also, this shop’s blind devotion to alpaca and wool hinders rational discussion about anything not alpaca or wool.

Long story short (is it possible at this point?), I wander in, start squishing and label-reading, and end up with a collection of fibers that are so different in texture and composition, the woman ringing me up thinks I am mad. (Or cheap, for not buying ten of each.) What unites these yarns – one soft as cotton candy, one sleek as wire, the other adorned with tiny sequins – is that ridiculously squishy yarn I had squirreled away at home.

Shortly before SNL started that night I found my one remaining skein of squishy yarn, gathered the day’s new yarns together, dusted off my size 17 needles, and started casting on. A few hours later, Nina’s candy cane scarf was finished. The next morning we conferred about the length, and I bound off. And now she has a new scarf, just in time for the wintry mix snow storm raging outside, this moment, as I type.

Nina's candy cane Purl Soho scarfClockwise from the left: Blue Sky Alpacas 100% organic cotton, worsted, shell; Patons Bohemian, super bulky, casual cream; Lana Grossa Divino, worsted, 029 carmine; and Lana Grossa Opera, worsted, 01 raw white. The Opera is sequined, tiny as snow flakes, spaced about every inch. It’s like faerie dust!

The quick and dirty:

I simply adapted the Purl Scarf pattern from Joelle Hoverson’s Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. As in, it is the simplest pattern in the world to adapt. This is one of my favorite pattern books; maybe someday I’ll do a quick review. Eventually I’ll add this project to Ravelry, but I’m listing my mods below because sometimes it takes me years to actually ravel something.

My modifications:

  • I used four strands of yarn, not three.
  • I used size 17 needles. The pattern calls for size 15, but the next-biggest size I have from 17 is 13, and I didn’t want to go down that low with four strands.
  • I cast on eight stitches instead of 16, in part because the stitches were so large, and also Nina wanted a skinnier width scarf.
  • I did not add tassels. Nina is presently anti-tassel.

This scarf is so fantastic with tassels. If we get snowed in and I can’t get to work or school, I might wile away the hours by making one for myself.