I have a thing for garter stitch—especially with handspun
yarn. Garter stitch seems to bring out all the wonderful qualities
of handspun. I find it gloriously rustic and sweet and cozy—a
fabric without pretension. I love the way garter stitch blends
and mellows the colors in the yarn I spin from the hand-dyed
braids of fiber that seem to follow me home from fiber festivals.
Instead of clearly delineated (and sometimes distracting) stockinette
stripes, garter stitch often delivers a lovely, subtle shading
of colors. Garter stitch helps to balance twist in handspun yarns,
which makes it ideal for using singles. And garter stitch gives
me yet another reason to be happy: I really like my scarves and
shawls to look the same on both sides so I can wrap them any
way I want without having to fuss.
Unleaving is a simple scarf with an uncommon edging. Knit entirely
in garter stitch from end to end—not a purl in sight—it’s
a great stash buster for small amounts of finely spun handspun
or single skeins of commercial sock yarn. Exact gauge is not
critical, and you can weigh your skein before you begin and customize
the length to use the yardage you have on hand. I began with
4 ounces of yak/silk/merino blend fiber dyed by Abstract Fiber.
The top was somewhat compacted from the dyeing process, so I
let it relax a bit after unbraiding it and then split it lengthwise.
The colors in this particular batch were close, so I didn’t
need to do anything special to preserve the color variation.
I spun it with a short forward draw and was pleased that the
yak, silk, and merino stayed nicely blended. The result was what
I had hoped for: a semi-solid two-ply yarn with enough color
variation to give the knitted fabric depth without creating obvious
stripes. The scarf pictured used up only 2.3 ounces of yarn,
which left me enough left over to make a second, slightly smaller
version as a gift.
per inch: 19
used: 320 yds (293 m)
of finished scarf: 2.3 oz.
Spinning Tool: Schacht
Matchless [double drive] Skeinwinder: Rick
Reeves handmade oak reel Scale: Escali
forward draw, worsted style
Commercial Yarn Alternative
weight from lace to fingering or sport will
produce a scarf that looks similar, although
the yardage needed will vary. Heavier weight
yarn (DK or worsted) can be used, but the garter
ridges will be more prominent and your yardage
will be different. You’ll need about
350-400 yards for a fingering-weight scarf;
an average 100 gm skein of sock yarn should
work just fine. See Pattern Notes for how to
weigh your yarn about halfway through the project
to use the yardage you have on hand.
Recommended needle size [always use a needle size
that gives you the gauge listed
below -- every knitter's gauge
#6/4 mm needles
20 sts/36 rows = 4 inches
in garter stitch using US #6/4 mm needles
Gauge is not essential for this project, but your final yardage and measurements
PATTERN NOTES [Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here.]
This pattern is a great stash buster because
you can use a wide variety of yarns, handspun
or commercial, and as long as you have roughly
2 to 3 ounces of a lace weight, 3.5 to
4 ounces of fingering, or about 5 to 6 ounces
of sport weight, you’ll end up with a scarf
that’s long enough to be useful. Your finished
measurements will vary, depending on your gauge
and your yardage. You can customize this pattern
to use your chosen yarn by weighing the skein
(or, in the case of heavier yarns, skeins) before
you start and then weighing it periodically during
the increase stage. When you have slightly more
than half a skein left, begin the decreases.
Your yardage and finished size may vary, but
the scarf will look great in a variety of sizes.
You can change the rate of increases/decreases
as well to vary the center width. When I made
a second sample from the 1.7 ounces of yarn
I had left, I worked increases every 16th row
three times; every 8th row eight times; and
then every 4th row sixteen times before beginning
the matching decreases. This enabled me to
reach a center measurement of about 10 inches
with a wingspan of about 66 inches.
You could also create a wider shawl shape
by working a few increases every 16th and 8th
rows, and then increasing every 4th row until
you reach the desired width. Just make sure
you work within the 16-row repeat for the edging,
with increases or decreases occurring every
16th, 8th, or 4th row.
The charts for this pattern are very large and
fit on a letter-sized page.
Click here and
print the resulting page.
Using the Long-Tail Cast-On method or cast-on
of choice, CO 18 sts.
Foundation Row [WS]: K2, pm, k16.
Row 1 [RS]: Work Row 1 of Edging
Chart, slip marker, k2.
Row 2: K2, slip marker,
work Row 2 of Edging Chart.
Cont in established patt, working Chart and
all other sts in garter stitch (knit every
row), through Row 16 of Edging Chart.
Begin Increases: Inc row [RS]: Work Edging Chart
to marker, slip marker, kfb, knit to end. – 1
Row 2: Knit to marker,
slip marker, work next row
of Edging Chart.
Work even in pattern for 14 rows, ending with
Row 16 of Chart.
Rep last 16 rows twice more. 21 sts.
Work Inc Row.
Work 7 rows even in pattern.
Rep last 8 rows 23 times more. 45 sts.
Alternatively, work until you have used up
just a bit less than half of your yarn, ending
with Row 16 of Edging Chart.
Dec Row [RS]: Work Edging Chart to
marker, slip marker, ssk, k to end.
Work 7 rows even in pattern.
Repeat last 8 rows 23 times more, or until
21 sts rem, ending with Row 16 of Edging Chart.
Work Dec Row.
Work 15 rows in pattern.
Rep last 16 rows twice more. 18 sts.
BO all sts loosely knitwise.
Weave in ends. Block piece, pinning the long garter-stitch edge straight
and then pinning the middle of the scalloped edge at its deepest point
and tapering at either end.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Lee lives with her family in western Connecticut, where she
teaches fiber arts at Westover School and tries
to teach the spiders in her house to sweep the floors so she can spend
more time spinning (so far, they are sympathetic but noncompliant).