FO – Vine Lace Scarf

I just had to post another FO before the year ends, and as it happens, this one was a surprise favorite.

Pattern: my own (coming soon), using Barbara Walker’s Vine Lace stitch, learned from the Jellyfish shrug
Size: one size
Yarn: Patons Brilliant 69% Acrylic 19% Nylon 12% Polyester, color 3008 Crystal Cream; I used a little less than 1 ball, 1.75 oz/50 g and 166 yards.
Needles: aluminum 9-inch size 10.5 (my mom’s)
Modifications: all of it.

Started: December 23, 2007
Finished: December 25, 2007

In my mother’s family, we do a Secret Santa exchange among the adults, each person giving someone else one (or a few) big, personal gifts rather than everyone getting something small and impersonal. My recipient was my cousin’s new wife, whom I barely know, and all of the family told me she just wanted an Old Navy gift card. Begrudgingly, I bought her the gift card (I hate gift cards), but I thought “Well I’m knitting her something too.”

I had an extra skein of Patons Brilliant from Hope’s shrug, and I knew I liked the way it knit up on size 10.5 needles. I had intended to knit a Branching Out, but I just didn’t like the way it looked. Most of all, it took me several hours to do just a few pattern repeats. It’s a great pattern, but this wasn’t the time for it.

Seeing as I was starting this gift with a matter of hours to go (and a pile of baking, wrapping, errands, and other knitting to finish as well), I needed a pattern that would go quickly, stretch the yardage, and look good. I started and frogged probably five different scarves in the middle of the night between the 23rd and 24th, and I was starting to feel despondent.

I remembered how nice the vine lace stitch pattern looked on the Jellyfish shrug, and with a tiny bit of math and some fiddling, I cast on in the wee hours of Christmas Eve, conking out to sleep after a few successful pattern repeats.

The next day and night, I knit like a fiend, relying on muscle memory and repetition to carry me through the lace. Thankfully, I didn’t make any big mistakes, I didn’t have to frog a stitch, and it came out smoothly and beautifully. I collapsed asleep near dawn on Christmas morning, thinking “I wonder how I’ll block it?” as my head hit the pillow.

Blocking was what made this scarf. As it is a synthetic fiber, I was nervous that it wouldn’t open up nicely. I didn’t have time to soak it and pin it out, and I didn’t think that’d make a huge difference anyway. I had read about steam blocking online, but I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t melt the metallic bits in the yarn.

Cautiously, I laid the scarf out on a towel and used the iron spritzer to get it gently damp. I used my fingers to spread the lace to the desired measurements and with the iron on the “nylon” setting (thinking that was the most flammable of the materials), I gently steamed it open. It came out spectacular, the fabric actually a bit softer but maintaining its lace integrity. I had picked this stitch pattern because it looked alright unblocked, but when pressed and spread out, it becomes a whole new level of elegance.

Though I don’t really consider it a “design” in any appreciable sense, I really loved this process, and I’m already planning to knit another of these scarves. In all my rush to get the gift wrapped and out the door on Christmas day, I neglected to even measure it, having simply worked until I was almost out of yarn and it felt like a decent scarf length.

My cousin’s wife loved it and didn’t believe it was hand-made at first. She thought it was just a lovely store-bought trifle included with her gift, and when my aunt shared that I’d knit it, she was amazed. I was hoping it would become more special to her than the gift card, and based on her immediate wearing and subsequent admiration throughout the night, I think she will enjoy it for years to come.

I’m going to make another scarf for measurements and additional photos, then I’ll make this pattern available for free in the new year. It’s a great one-skein project and I think it made a pretty perfect little gift.