Of manly sophistication

Now that turkey day has come and gone, it’s that time of the year again -- the time when those gift-giving days on the far horizon suddenly loom disturbingly close. For the non-knitting portion of the population, this means the manifestation of a voice in the back of the head screaming “Shop! Shop! Why are you still standing there? Shop!” For those of us inclined to play around with sticks and threads for most of the year, that voice brings along a sly little friend, who incessantly reminds us just how wonderful, how much better in demonstrating our love, how the very spirit of holiday giving, handmade gifts would be. This year, I've succumbed to that guilt-inducing little voice. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t enjoy gift knitting, but that the many unknowns in devoting the time to make a present (will they like the yarn, the color, the stitch pattern…will they wear it at all?) is quite crazy-making. To wit, my Thanksgiving vacation time was almost entirely devoted to pondering this.

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How to turn 375 yards of Brooks Farms Riata into a manly yet sophisticated scarf, of comfortable width and sufficient length, that my uncle (who is thankfully very excited over the prospect of my knitting him a scarf) will like and wear. All without running out of yarn, of course. I started off quite optimistic, even though I have no idea what a man of sixty-plus years would consider to be manly sophistication (choosing the yarn color was enough to tax all my knowledge there). Riata is, after all, a beautiful, lustrous yarn. Surely it will look perfect in any stitch pattern. Surely. And besides, if anyone would know, surely my mother would have a good idea of what her brother would like. Surely. So, together with Mom, a few Barbara walker stitchionaries, some Vogue books, and a vintage text from Mom’s knitting days, we started to search for the perfect stitch pattern. All the lace patterns (really, anything with holes) were sadly dismissed out of hand for not being sufficiently “manly.” Ribs were good. Knit-purl texture patterns even better. Oh, and what about the cables? There seemed to be plenty of contenders but the more I swatched, the more frustrating it became. Initial swatching ruled out cables because of the limitations in yardage. More swatching nixed knit purl texture patterns because of the way the three ply yarn, with one ply containing silk and thus shinier than the others, reflected the light and made the texture disappear. Even more swatching settled the contention by Mom that an alternating rib pattern would work out beautifully --- the yarn is simply too loosely plied to show the difference and the end result looked boring and messy. Most irritatingly, nothing I tried showed off the subtle color and texture variation within the yarn. If anything, the yarn was screaming to be a loose, lacy pattern. This observation then touched off an extended debate with Mom on what exactly constituted a “manly” scarf. Between this and the failed swatching, I was ready by Sunday to knit two bobbles and an I-cord to a rectangle and call it manly and done. Fortunately, one last perusal of my pile of stitch patterns saved the day. I wanted something simple, interesting, and not too loose looking on larger needles…why didn’t I think of the plaited basket stitch sooner?

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So, is this manly sophistication?


Anonymous Maud said...

Absolutely! Beautiful stitch and colour, both very manly.

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Nora said...

It's perfect!

BTW: That was a great post - the "2 bobbles and i-cord" sentence made coffee come out my nose.

2:17 AM  
Blogger Marie said...

Yes, it's perfect!

3:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks perfect

4:31 AM  
Blogger tammy said...

Gorgeous. It's exactly right.

6:33 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Perfect! I can just picture the lengthy choosing debate between you and your mom, if she's anything like you. How frustrating when yarn seems like it will be all you've dreamed of but turns out to just be petulant and contrary. But I think what you picked will be the perfect masculine scarf.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Yep. Great marriage of yarn and pattern.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous francoise said...

This is going to be perfect and very manly!...
What an agonising post! I was ready to hear at the end that you frogged the lot and went to buy a ready-made scarf! Well done for persevering...

2:20 PM  
Blogger Areli said...

Very manly. The color and stitch pattern are both perfect.

6:40 PM  

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