New Year and the Noro scarf

Some garments stick with you. For a while.

I call this the Nine-year scarf – it’s one of those rare pieces of clothing that has seen me through nearly a decade of my life. I knit it before moving to the U.S. for graduate school years ago. I wore it to my very first school orientation meeting in Chicago. And, I was sure to bring it in the suitcase when I finally decided to take the leap and re-locate, never failing to wear it every Fall and Winter. Other scarves have come and gone, but this one has stayed. I think of the scarf the way I think of an old, loyal friend (one whom I’ve worn so long that it’s starting to felt itself).

The scarf is knit with Noro yarn, produced in the Japanese province of Aichi. I lost the label, but I suspect it is the 100% wool Noro Kureyon. This hand-dyed, variegated, worsted weight yarn was designed in the 1990s, and its 2-ply structure creates rich and unexpected ‘colour blurs’ when knit up. It shows that Eisaku Noro first trained as a painter before turning his eye to spinning and dyeing.

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Image source: Designer Yarns UK

When I first saw Noro yarn years ago, the colours made wonderful sense to me; they stood out in the way that extraordinary and beautiful things do. Noro grows gardens of colour into each skein. I bought the yarn at a Toronto thrift shop in the early 2000s where 2 completely new and unopened skeins were being sold for a whopping $2. Only now do I realize that I had stumbled upon buried treasure.

9 years later, the scarf’s colours are still vibrant and vivid, and the fabric has taken on new dimension.

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With a new year just ahead, I consider the scarf an example of how to age well and get on with time with a little bit of playfulness and grace. I like to think that, with the passing years, the scarf became more of itself – it has taken a lot of wear and tear but has also grown, in my eyes, more alive, its colours deepening. For the next year, I’m resolving to follow this trusty scarf’s example and do the same: to deepen my commitments to my new found and familiar creative loves. It’s helpful to have reminders of what longevity looks like (especially when those reminders also keep you warm in winter).*


I make my yearly Northern migration (Canada!) today to spend some time with relatives and friends, but I hope to stay plugged into blog-land. Perhaps it’s the mark of a burgeoning craft-love that I spent last night’s packing session thinking more about what knitting and craft supplies were coming with me, what knit-gifts need to be packed (and how), and then casting on a new WIP for the flight, than about clothes and such. I have a few faithful and favourite wears – like the Noro scarf –  and that’s all I need. I plan to do a lot of knitting in Canada.

I have really been enjoying being a blogging person, again, and am grateful for – and absolutely delighted by – your will to share the wonderful and fascinating things that you have all been making and doing. A big high five to you for another year, and a big thanks for the inspiration.

Hoping 2017 finds you enjoying and discovering lots of creative pleasures – old and new.

Happy New Yarn!

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* I think 9 scarf-years has to be at least 45 human years, all things considered.

 

On the needles: Cartridge Belt Ribbed Scarf

I hope you are having a good week. Winter here in the Midwest has started off on a very cold note, but thank goodness for the sun. It’s been a very sunny week, and I suspect the ample sunlight is the only reason we are taking winter – the sudden and low subzero temps, the icy sidewalks, the  wind, and dealing with all of the above while de-snowing the car or waiting for a bus at 7 am – in what seems to be good stride.

Ok. Among my holiday WIPs this week is a scarf for a dear friend. This is a holiday but also a Thank You gift to someone who has helped me quite a bit over the years with my work and studies – a thank you that is long overdue. The scarf is worked in what is now my new favourite rib stitch: the cartridge belt rib. I first discovered this stitch while perusing Purl Soho’s No-Purl Ribbed Scarf. I was intrigued by the idea of a rib that didn’t require any purls! Beyond being simple, other advantages of this rib: it’s entirely reversible, lays down flat, and produces a lovely elongated stitch and dense (warm) fabric.

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The rib evokes the cylindrical bumps of a cartridge belt but, I imagine, is much cozier to wear around the neck in winter.

Working this stitch requires a multiple of 4 + 3 stitches. The rib is a 2-row repeat, worked as follows:

Row 1: knit 3, *[slip 1 with yarn in front, knit 3]; repeat from * to end of row

Row 2: knit 1, *[slip 1 with yarn in front, knit 3]; repeat from * to last 2 stitches, slip 1 with yarn in front, knit 1

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Slipping 1 (purlwise) with yarn in front makes the ‘hollow’ of the rib without purling.

I’ve been making headway on the scarf – a few inches here and there, and I should hit around 60″ before long (scarf-length preferences are subjective, but for a scarf like this, I’d like it to be long enough to at least go ‘once around’ and still hang midway down the torso). The stitch pattern is quick to memorize; the scarf shows you the way as you make it. The ‘knit 3, slip 1′ repeat is also easily set to 4/4 time, if you think of knitting in that way (I often do). I’m finding it much funner to do my flat knits on circular needles. I’m not sure why. Something about their flexibility and portability makes it exciting to get my needles and go. I feel like I can take ’em anywhere.

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I love making (and wearing) scarves, and I love the idea of wrapping a dear friend in a little bit of woolly warmth on a cold day – like gifting a warm hug.

A Big Thanks goes to luciddays.wordpress.com/ for the beautiful fabric photographed here.

I look forward to catching up on your crafty projects and holiday happenings. What are you excited to be doing/working on this week?

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