Sometimes You Just Need Easy
In January I wrote about my Well-Knitting Project which I started as a result of teaching hand knit and crochet to service users at Headway. During the last year I’ve seen the positive impact that knitting and crochet have on people with brain injuries. The group has become a therapeutic knitting group in which knitters and crocheters learn at their own pace, whilst working on individual projects.
Whilst there are a few who can already knit or crochet, many come along wanting to learn. I realised that I need samples of easy projects that beginners might attempt soon after learning. I want to inspire them to persevere through that initial stage, that new knitters experience, of being all fingers and thumbs. Describing a knitted item to someone, who has never knitted, is not the best approach. It’s far better if I can show them something and say “you only need to learn to cast-on, knit stitch and cast-off to make that”.
When I talk to people about what they would like to make, a scarf is frequently mentioned. So, my second well-knitting project is a garter stitch scarf. Now, I can imagine some experienced knitters thinking “How boring!” Most of us, when we learn to knit, want to try more challenging things. But if your life is challenging, whether that is due to poor health, or family problems or difficulties at work, you may just want to sooth a troubled mind. A simple, undemanding project may be all you can manage, either due to your lack of experience with knitting or inability to concentrate on anything more complex. So, a garter stitch scarf has it’s place.
Choosing the Right Yarn
The secret to knitting a garter stitch scarf is choosing the right yarn. There are two options here. Either choose a yarn that feels so fantastic, you just don’t want to stop knitting. Something soft, luxurious and possibly a bit expensive. Or choose a yarn that changes colours, so you want to keep knitting to see what it will look like. And in either case remember that a thicker yarn knits quicker!
For my garter stitch scarf I used Hayfield Colour Rich Chunky which is made in Turkey for Sirdar Yarns, one of the big British yarn companies. This yarn is 100% acrylic. Now, I don’t normally knit with acrylic. I’d rather use a biodegradable yarn. However, many people who are knitting therapeutically cannot afford wool or any other animal fibre. So, I’m on a mission to find acrylic yarns that are worth knitting. If we’re going to create something that will last for ever, it would be better if it looks really good. Acrylic yarn does have a reputation of feeling “dry”, being scratchy to wear and squeaking when knitted. And I certainly remember some hideous colours from my childhood. So, I’m looking for acrylic yarns that feel good, come in attractive colours and are widely available.
Hayfield Colour Rich Chunky is a variegated yarn without an obvious repeat. There are 10 colour ways: Chameleon, Kaleidoscope, Strata, Ocean Blue, Plum Grey, Harvest, Mineral and Fruity Feast. I chose the Fruity Feast in shades of pink and purple which I love. It feels soft and squiggly. It cost £6.99, for a 200 g, 325 m skein, which is enough for one scarf.
Instructions for a Garter Stitch Scarf
Cast on 25 stitches and knit until the scarf measures about 180 cm, then cast off. It’s that simple!
On the ball band 6.50 mm knitting needles are recommended, but I used 7.00 mm instead. Acrylic can knit up a bit stiff, so I went up a size to make sure that the scarf would drape nicely.
My theme for 2015 is well-being; as well as the well-knitting project I’m working on my own well-being. In my post about The Well-Knitting Project post I mentioned how trying to walk 10000 steps a day had triggered a fibro flare. Since then, I cut down to 6000 steps per day which was fine. I’ve gradually increased the number of steps; now I’m walking an average of 7000 steps per day with no ill-effects. Apparently, by 19 January I had walked the distance of the march of Penguins (112 km) and by 24 March, I had walked the distance of the London Underground. That’s 420 km!
One step at a time, one stitch at a time!