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Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Scarlett Valentine

Knitting Up A Story

Thanks for asking me to visit Whipped Cream Reviews this week. I’ve been looking forward to this. And thanks for asking me to talk about some of my hobbies and interests.

As some know, I just came off a two week virtual blog tour. I had an amazing time, met some great people and doled out a few prizes. {stay tuned, as I will be giving out more this week!} As book tours go, every day is filled with discussions about the book: setting, characters, history, why I chose the genre, etc. Readers got to learn a little about me as an author, too.

This week, I’d like to talk about me again, but a little more informally—Scarlett Valentine away from the computer and what she does when she’s not writing, plotting or otherwise being abused by her muse. Also how my hobbies inspire my writing.

One of my favorite past times is knitting. Really, I’ve been crafting since I was very young. My father bought me a French knitter when I was about seven—you know the one that looks like a doll with pins in her head and a hole down the middle, yarn is wrapped around the pins and you use a hook to overlap the yarn, creating a cord. I could make cords for days on that thing. Mom taught me macramé, needlepoint and sew. She also taught me to read early, but that’s another story.

It wasn’t until my great-aunt Tropha came to stay with us for a while that I learned pattern making, knitting and crochet. I would sit for hours with my aunt, listening to her tales of ‘comin west’ in a wagon and living in soddies while her fingers flew over her work.

Aunt Tropha was one of the strongest women I knew. She was born in 1891 and those stories about the wagon and the sod houses were true. A woman was born strong in those times or they never would have survived harsh conditions and wagon trains. Tropha was the youngest of a large brood, each of whom had their daily chores. Even her sister who was named Princess! One of the stories Aunt Tropha told took place when she was three. Her chore was to set the table at each meal with the cutlery. Well, being three and rambunctious I probably don’t have to tell you how she lost an eye. You can just take it that she did. But that never stopped her from doing anything she wanted, including needlework. She once told me, ‘It saves me from having to close one eye to thread a needle!’ She was spunky like that!

I loved writing from the time I was young, and Aunt Tropha’s stories inspired me. I’ve yet to write that kind of story, but her tales are always in the back of my mind. And now, as then, I still find myself remembering her stories while I’m doing needlework. Because it’s also so relaxing, I find doing needlework is one of the best times for story-plotting.

I haven’t crocheted much in recent years, but I did pick up knitting again. I knit for a couple hours at night in front of the tellie. After typing most of the day, one would expect I’d have tired fingers. They’re anything but. I fidget, want to nibble on snacks or pick my nails if I don’t have something in my hands. Needlework satisfies me.

One of the things that has come about since getting back into needlecraft is my love of unusual yarns. I love hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns; unusual fibers like silk, bamboo, milk, corn silk, and exotics like buffalo! As a result, my yarn stash has threatened to get out of control. Currently, it’s contained in an antique wardrobe, but the doors have trouble staying closed! Just two weeks ago I added to that overflowing stash when I attended the annual Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin! I go every year with a girlfriend and stay for hours drooling over everything and coming home with more than I can really afford. I’m terrible! I still have yarn from the last two shows in my stash I haven’t used yet. I just can’t help myself. I’m a yarn junkie and need a YA {Yarnaholics Anonymous} program to get clean!

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a pattern with you. It’s a Moss Stitch Scarf. It’s quick and very easy to do, and moss stitch creates a reversible garment. And with Ho Ho Day in just four weeks, there’s no time like the present for . . . presents!

Any size yarn will do. I like an Aran weight/double knitting yarn that uses 4-5mm/6-8US size needles. You can use any type of yarn too—wool, acrylic, silk, cotton, bamboo, etc. Just be sure it’s soft because it goes around the neck.

Using a solid color yarn will show up the moss stitch pattern very well. Using a self-striping yarn gives the scarf more dimension, as you can see by my scarf, shown here by my reluctant model, Poppy. My scarf here was made with Noro Silk Garden which is a silk wool blend and self-striping. I used three 50 gram balls {about 6 ounces}.

For casting on, I like the two-needle method for scarves, but feel free to use your own preferred cast on method. For two-needle: Make a slipknot and place on a needle. With the second needle, insert into the loop on the left needle knitwise {as if you are going to knit the stitch}, pull the loop through and place onto the left needle. Add loops by now inserting needle between the loops, yarn over, pull the loop through and place on the left needle. It’s the same technique for knitting, but instead of keeping the stitch on the right needle, it’s placed on the left. Two-needle cast-on makes a neater edge for the finished project.

So let’s get started—

Cast-on 20 stitches. This should give you a scarf of about 5 inches in width. Add sets of 2 stitches for a wider scarf . . . 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, etc.

Row 1—Knit 1 {K1}, Purl 1 {P1} to the end. You will end with a purl stitch. Turn the work.

Row 2—P1, K1 to the end.

Note: Use the same type of stitch as on the opposite side of the work. If the stitch was knitted on the first row, knit it on the back. If you purl on the back of a knit stitch, you will create a rib stitch, which is not what you want.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until the desired length of the scarf, usually around 4 feet, but you can knit longer if you have yarn leftover {leave enough for the cast-off} or if you like really long scarves.

End on right side row, where you would begin with a knit stitch.

Cast-off in pattern—

K1, P1, slip K stitch over P stitch.
*K1, slip P over K stitch.
P1, slip K over P stitch.*
Repeat * to * to end.

When you have one stitch left, take it off the needle, pull one loop through the stitch to lock the stitch, then snip the yarn with about a 4 inch tail, pull through to knot the stitch.

Weave in ends.

Voila. One moss stitch scarf.

I hope you enjoy this pattern. Let me know if you make this scarf, or something else with moss stitch. I’d love to see pictures of your finished garment.

Thanks for hanging out with me today. Remember there will be prizes this week {a spot prize and a grand prize at the end}, so join me tomorrow when I’ll be chatting about another one of my passions—Cooking. Get your taste buds, and your kitchen, ready for a great recipe!

~ Scarlett
“What’s a little bondage between friends?”
Available now – Awakening, book one of The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter series


Anonymous said...

Thank you for hosting me this week. I'm looking forward to chatting with everyone and handing out some prizes!

**One lucky commenter today will win one of my own hand knits!**

Maureen said...

Aunt Tropha sounds like an amazing woman and, though I don't knit, I'm hoping to learn someday.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Anonymous said...

Hi Maureen,

Yes, aunt Tropha was a gem alright! Her memory was as clear as crystal. I loved listening to her tales, and watching her do needlework.

Knitting doesn't suit everyone, nor does crochet. But I believe everyone has a craft in them. Knitting is probably the easiest of this type of craft because it really only involves two stitches . . . knit and purl. Just depends on where the needle goes as to what pattern one can make. Crochet has loads of stitches to remember. But I love them both. I'm hoping to do an old fashioned style granny square afghan one day. My great grandmother made them for all her grandchildren. I know ours had a bit of a boo boo in it after so many years. If I can find out who has it, I'd love to try repairing it.

Do you do any crafts or hobbies at all, Maureen?

Thanks for stopping by today!

wanda f said...

Ive been trying to learn to knit but not having much luck maybe because Im left handed ?I do have a knit around that I pull out in winter months and just go round and round its realy relaxing .

Anonymous said...

Hi Wanda,

With knitting, it helps to be a bit ambidextrous. A lot of left handed people knit 'right handed' and do just fine. If you're not ambidextrous and have a hard time knitting the traditional way, try these videos to help you --

The one for knitting is what traditional knitters call backwards knitting. If you knit traditionally across the row, then do the left handed knit, it actually purls the row so you have knit on one side and purl on the other. However, with this method of left handed knit and purl you get a traditional fabric with knit on one side and purl on the other. Give it a try!

Mysti Holiday said...

LOL... love the model for your scarf! I've tried knitting, but we just don't get along, so I stick with crochet. Let you, if I don't keep my hands busy when watching TV I tend to nibble. Never a good thing.