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Red Scarf Project

September 29, 2006

I ran across a mention of the Red Scarf Project in Jenipurr’s knitblog, and the idea of participating myself got into my head. I am all for former foster kids going to college and getting care packages. Surely I could finish a scarf (or even two) by January. I have scarf knitting experience, after all, and these scarves wouldn’t have to be eight- or nine-inches wide by six- or seven-feet long double-layer behemoths, either. When a week or two had passed and the idea was still in my head (right alongside all the other future knitting projects in there), I decided to follow up and went shopping for red yarn.

Though “went” is the wrong word. I went nowhere. I sat on my butt and looked at the color card for Swish Superwash from KnitPicks. Why Swish? Because it’s machine washable, that’s why. I remember college; hand washing things was not high on my list of priorities then (still isn’t, but at least now I have ready access to a tub and plenty of space to lay things out to dry). When choosing colors, I considered the project guidelines–“Red! This could mean burgundy, cherry, russet, red stripes with other colors, multicolor hues including red. Other unisex colors, including black, navy, gray, teal, olive or gold, are also welcome.”–as well as the instruction to “think unisex collegiate”. I looked at what pictures I could find of scarves made for the project last year and saw a lot that didn’t look too unisex (perhaps the guidelines were different then), ones with fun fur or ruffles or a lacy stitch pattern or pink hues, so I decided to veer toward the manly to balance things out. (Not that men can’t wear ruffles or fun fur, just most of the men I know do not.) Swish comes in a nice bright scarlet, but I chose the darker Fired Brick for my main color. It’s still red, but more subdued, and will hide dirt better. Not that college students ever put off doing laundry. For contrast, I decided on the Dark Navy, Coast Grey, and Black. I used a simple scarf pattern to estimate how many yards I’ll need to make two and ordered that much red and small amounts of the other colors, which I figure I’ll use to make stripes of some sort.

Now the yarn is here, and I’ll start knitting it up just as soon as I finish Mr. Karen’s hat. In the meantime, I need to decide on a pattern (or two). I want something that looks good on both sides which won’t be too hard for a knitter with my minimal skills to accomplish. I’m considering this one from Martha Stewart Living, because it seems very straightforward. I could make the border in a contrasting color and add some narrow stripes. Or maybe a ribbed scarf with wide stripes at either end and fringe like this one (similar to this pattern). I’m getting better at switching between knit and purl, so I think I could manage. Or perhaps something like this rib and garter pattern. It’s only a tiny bit more complicated than anything I’ve done so far. Do I dare even consider something with cables, like the ubiquitous (over 160,000 hits on Google) Irish Hiking Scarf? Cables are unisex, right? Or what about the slightly less ubiquitous multidirectional scarf? I’ve mostly seen that one done in variegated yarn, but the solids with striping look good, too, and a kind blogger has even done a tutorial to show me how. I don’t know if I have enough of the contrast colors to make that work, though. Ah, choices. If any of you knitters out there have suggestions for other patterns, I’d love to hear them.

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