KNIT YOUR WAY THROUGH YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFT LIST
Project: one-skein scarf with shell buttons
Words and photographs by Jennifer Getsinger
Jennifer “Aunt Broccoli” Getsinger shows you how to knit an artistic-looking scarf with shell buttons, in a couple of hours, using a single skein of yarn.
It’s too close to the Christmas holidays to knit socks, and you can’t stand the thought of any more shopping. In your knitting basket are a few odd balls of yarn left over from various projects. How do you create an easy and attractive home-crafted gift in a hurry?
Herewith are Aunt Broccoli’s guidelines for making an artistic-looking (and warm) buttoned scarf, in a couple of hours, using a single skein of yarn:
- Simple design.
- Fat knitting needles.
- Exotic-looking buttons.
Guideline #1: simple design
Aunt Broccoli believes in keeping things simple, especially when attempting to knit her way through her gift list.
And nothing could be simpler than rib stitch: columns of knit stitches alternating with columns of purl stitches. (Okay—stockinette stitch is simpler, but you can’t use stockinette stitch on a scarf because it won’t lie flat.) All three scarves shown here can be made by knitting two stitches and then purling two stitches, repeating until the scarf measures the length of your arm.
Guideline #2: fat needles
Aunt Broccoli notes that the time required to knit a scarf is inversely proportional to the size of the needle: fat needles = less time. You may have to experiment to get the best combination of yarn, needle size, and completion time.
For her Autumn Colours Scarf in a silk–wool blend, Aunt Broccoli used 1 cm needles and 6 ribs and completed the project in approximately 3 hours.
For her Salt & Pepper Scarf in curlicue acrylic yarn, Aunt Broccoli used 1.5 cm needles and 3 ribs and completed the project in less than 3 hours.
For her Classic Black Scarf in an angora–wool blend—a spiderweb-like, narrow scarf—Aunt Broccoli used 3 ribs and massive 2.5 cm needles (rocket ships or castle turrets?) and completed the project in approximately 2.5 hours.
Top tip: for tighter scarf ends, start and finish with smaller needles.
Guideline #3: exotic-looking buttonsPull the look together by sewing two exotic-looking shell-button fasteners to one end of your scarf. You can quickly make cheap and unique buttons with a small drill and a variety of sea shells, culled from the nearest beach. Aunt Broccoli, who lives in Vancouver, BC, always has on hand miscellaneous nature treasures like these.
For all three scarves shown here, Aunt Broccoli used the invasive purple varnish clam, Nuttallia obscurata. (Nuttallia obscurata comes in white to pink to purple, and is very common on Vancouver beaches.) The shells easily slip through the wide holes in the knitted pattern to hold the two ends of each scarf together.
Once she had cleaned and dried the shells, she selected two pairs of contrasting large shell buttons and then tied them together back-to-back with yarn (elastic will work just as well).
Voila. Three more scarves ready for under the tree.
Top tip: the trick to making your shell buttons look shiny-wet is spray acrylic, or lacking that, clear nail polish, both of which dry almost immediately.
- Cast on 12 sts for 3-rib scarf. (24 sts for 6-rib scarf; 32 sts for 8-rib scarf).
- Every row: *K2. P2. Repeat from * to end of row. Repeat this row for length of scarf.
- Cast off knitwise (WS).
- Try on scarf and mark position for two (pre-drilled) shell buttons. Sew on buttons using a coordinating or contrasting yarn; black is always appropriate.
- Fat knitting needles.
Aunt Broccoli’s choices: Salt & Pepper Scarf: 1.5 cm needles and 3 ribs. Autumn Colours Scarf: 1 cm and 6 ribs. Classic Black Scarf: 2.5 cm and 3 ribs.
- One skein of yarn.
Aunt Broccoli’s choices: Salt & Pepper Scarf: a curlicue acrylic from her stash. Autumn Colours Scarf: a silk–wool blend from her stash. Classic Black Scarf: an angora–wool blend (70% angora; 30% wool) from her stash.
- Two sea shells.
Aunt Broccoli used the purple varnish clam, Nuttallia obscurata, as buttons for all three scarves.
- Spray acrylic sealer, such as Krylon Acrylic Crystal Clear or clear nail varnish.
- Small rotary tool (1/16-inch drill bit).