Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Merino Flower Scarf

I'm currently in a bit of a crochet frenzy - I worked out last night that my Mumbles Ripple only needs one new stripe (2 rows) every day to be ready in time. But then I remembered that there is a lot to do within that time - I will be moving house for one thing, and we need a MAHOOSIVE sort out to go along with that, so that will be several days with no crocheting I'm sure. I therefore revised my estimate: I should be achieving 2 stripes a day, which is 4 rows of over 460 stitches per row, nearly 2000 stitches! (This blanket is wide enough to drape down the sides of a king size bed!)  This is quite a lot of crocheting, so I've been devoting every spare moment to the Mumbles. It's going to be a wedding present for my lovely brother and his lovely fiancée, so I really can't afford to be late with it!

Today however I don't have so much time to devote to this project, as shortly I'll be heading out to meet with friends before we go to the Royal Geographical Society's Geographical Journeys Microlectures. While I think I will get ripple-withdrawal, I am very excited to go. I went last year to see a friend speaking, and although I don't have any friends speaking this time around, I'm still really excited about it as the microlectures are so fascinating! I hope to be able to write up about it this year too, so look out for it :)

But, before I head to the station for my train into London, I’m also very excited to be able to introduce to you my Merino Flower Scarf!

I made this some time ago, it was my third completed project, after my first ripple blanket and the cushion cover I made from the ripple's yarn scraps (both can be seen here).

My lovely mother-in-law had given me the most of the yarn for my ripple project from her own stock of James C Brett pure merino. This is really soft and scrummy yarn, it just feels so beautiful and it gives a good stitch definition, if that’s a look you’re into (I’ve met some people who don’t like their stitches well defined and some who do).

It’s such a lovely soft blanket and I love to cuddle up in it on the sofa when it’s chilly, and I love the look on friends’ faces when they remark on it and I tell them I made it! (In fact, just last night some friends were here and were extremely complimentary about it!)

Well, you can’t be given that much joy in yarny form without giving a little something back, can you? I had read about Alpaca wool, and the significance of this yarn in South American culture. I had read about its properties for softness, warmness, durability, and how it’s an important yarn in the creation of heirloom pieces. It seemed a perfect yarn for a thank you project, and I ordered some gorgeous colours. The yarn was beautiful, and after using a random spare ball to make a practice sample, I set to work using Revlie’s Japanese Flower Tutorial. (The same pattern as I did for my second Japanese Flower Scarf, here and here).

My practice sample - now a kind of triangle-doily-type-thing as I can't bear to throw it out!

Things were going great until suddenly I encountered a problem – the subject of alpaca yarn came up in conversation with my mother-in-law (I can’t remember how), and it turned out that she can’t wear alpaca! Not at all!! Just a few minutes of contact with alpaca fibre, and her skin starts to itch, then it breaks out in a rash. The gorgeous alpaca yarn I had bought would not be suitable for her present AT ALL!!

[This seems like a disaster, but I still have that infant project lingering in a bag along with all of the gorgeous yarn for it, so I can always pick it back up again when I feel the motivation strike.]

I decided that as alpaca was off the cards, I would go for merino instead as it had been so beautiful to work with. I hadn’t heard of Stylecraft at this point in time, but by coincidence the yarn I ended getting was Stylecraft Pure Luxury Merino. This was discontinued at the time so when I bought it I was getting end-of-line stock, and it took some hunting around to find extra when I realised I didn’t have enough!!


My mother-in-law suits nice rich colours, so from the limited choices available at the time I opted for the darker colours of Kingfisher and Ink and started hooking away again.

I only had the 2 colours, so I mixed up the colour changes as best I could to give a variety to the pattern. 

I worked hard on this project – I still wasn’t very experienced at all at this stage, and I took great care with all of my hooking. My husband was very supportive about it – if I had a wobble about how good it was he always reassured me that his mum would love it, and he helped me to decide how big to make it too. He had also helped me to choose the colours after I discovered that the alpaca was no good for her.

When it was finished it got wrapped up straight away to keep it safe and clean, and then came the time to finally hand it over… I was so nervous!! This was the first project that I had ever given to someone, and I really didn’t have a clue what she would think of it. I wasn’t sure if the colours were right, I wasn’t sure if it was good enough, I wasn’t sure if it would be a style she would like… so many anxious thoughts went through my head!

But my mother-in-law is a ‘yarny’ person. She looooves natural fibres. She keeps sheep, she prepares raw fleeces. She dyes and she spins, she knits and she felts. She appreciates all things woolly and all of the work that goes into them. She looked very happy about her new scarf and made lots of admiring noises and comments, and made me feel much better about it :)

And now she has let me borrow it in order to use as a bit of an audition for a little something that I hope will work out (I don’t want to jinx it by going into detail just yet) and so I have got these photos of it to put up here!

I’m very glad to show you as it was a very early project of mine and I was so excited to have learned something new, a little step up from the basics I had learned so far. It felt like a real achievement for me :)

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