contributed by Shawn
'Scissors', 'knitting project,' and 'cut' are not words that a lot of knitters use in close proximity. Unless you're a knitter who works a lot of fair-isle or other color work projects that require steeking, cutting isn't usually something most knitted items (and their knitters) experience.
Here's a way you can work an easy project and take the plunge with cutting! Our free Linen Stitch Scarf pattern has been turning heads in the shop, and it seems everyone is picking out yarn to make this project. This beautiful scarf is worked in the round for quick construction, but to turn it into a flat scarf, it does require some "snip snip snipping". It really isn't as bad as it sounds and since I'm working up my own Linen Stitch Scarf I thought I would share some tips and photos of the scary parts, to put you at ease.
First of all, be prepared before you begin. This pattern begins with a cast on of 400 stitches. That's a lot of stitches and they are small when you use fingering weight yarn - even on a US size 8 circular needle that the pattern calls for.
Which technique will you use to cast on?
If you prefer the long-tail cast on method you should be sure you have a very long tail before you begin or you will be reworking your cast on (potentially multiple times). TIP: If you want to estimate the length of the yarn tail needed for your cast on, wrap the yarn around your needle 400 times (leaving a 6-8" length at the beginning end). Create your slip knot in the space just after the 400 wraps and you should have a long enough tail to complete your cast on.
TIP: If you don't want to take the time to make these yarn wraps then you can also use two different balls of your project yarn while casting on. Pick out two of your skeins, hold them together to form your slip knot to begin the cast on (leaving a 6-8" length at the beginning end) and then use each strand from the two different skeins in the long-tail cast on method. When you've finished your cast on, clip the skein you will not be continuing with (leaving a 6-8" length at the end).
TIP: Make sure your stitches are not too tight when casting on. If these stitches are tight then the cast on edge of your scarf (which will form one of the lengthwise edges after cutting) will bind and not allow the finished work to relax and your scarf will be shorter than expected (sometimes just on this side). You can use a size or two larger needle for the cast on edge and then use the US 8 for the main body of your scarf to help with this issue.
TIP: We highly recommend using stitch markers during your cast on and to help you keep your work on track during the knitting process. (Unless of course you really enjoy counting and recounting your stitches as you work.)
I liked using different colors to help me keep track of my place in this project. For example, I placed a single green stitch marker after the first 20 stitches of my cast on. Then after every additional 20 stitches I placed a purple stitch marker until I reached the total of 400 stitches. After placing each marker I double checked the section before it to be sure I had exactly 20 stitches. This means I only had to count to 20 during my entire cast on process! (Hey, sometimes I'm challenged with large numbers especially when I have multiple cat distractions at home.) My stitch marker at the 380 stitches mark was another green marker and I used two green markers (double green marker) to indicate the join/beginning of the round.
Why the colors? Well, this project asks you to work stockinette stitch for the first 20 stitches and the last 20 stitches of every round. TIP: I never had to keep track since I just had to knit all the stitches between the green markers every round for the duration of the project. It helped me to see which stitches I was going to bind off on the last row as well without having to count the bound-off stitches while I worked them. The double green marker simply indicated the beginning of my round and let me know that I should switch colors at that point in the round.
TIP: In this project, you do not need to cut the yarns when switching from one color to another. The beginning of the round occurs at the mid-point where your finished scarf ends will be cut apart. To keep my work in progress neater I simply carried the unused yarn strands up along the inside of my project- I ended up cutting them anyway and these as well as the beginning and ending tails were incorporated into my fringe.
I only used 2 colors for this project. One of them is Koigu Painter's PalettePremium Merino Yarn (KPPPM) and the other was a random skein of sock yarn left over from another project. Since I used only two colors I decided to switch between every row. Surprise! This formed a very different pattern on the front and back of my work.
Here is the 'right side.' This looks just like the texture and variation that Barb got on her original project.
When you are nearing the end of this project you bind off the stitches along the top edge of the linen stitch section only. Here is a photo of the stockinette section (where I am going to cut my work).
Notice that the stockinette section still has live stitches on my needle (and the beginning of the round double marker). This photo shows the linen stitch section alongside the stockinette section.Notice the bind off along the linen stitch section. Out comes the needle and here is the progression of dropping all those stockinette stitches to form the fringe.
Then I used a sharp pair of scissors and cut right in the middle of this dropped stitch section. There is a heavy bookend holding the linen stitch section in place so that I can begin twisting the fringe.
We recently got fringe twister tools in the shop. So I split the ends up evenly and used the tool to create the twisted fringe. The tool made it very easy to get each one exactly the same.
All set for blocking! This was such a fun project that I might have to pick out another set of colors and make a second scarf!