Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 22, 2010

Knitting, Sighing, and Moving On

I’ve always envied people with busy hands who look calm and own cool scarves, but it wasn’t until my friend Sue suggested we take a class this fall at a local shop that I took up knitting. It’s slow, like my writing, but there is that thing you can see on a lap and possibly drape around your neck. My daughter asked for a Harry Potter scarf, so I sought out Gryffindor colors and got to work. Things seemed pretty good except for the way the scarf curled in, but I didn’t worry much because my teacher said this was normal, and told us ways to block knitting to make the work lay flat when done.

Maybe two months later – ta da! A curly scarf, which I pinned down and sprayed to block as instructed. Twice. It still curled in. It looks normal enough on the table, but not when draped.


I brought it to the yarn shop, where a lady at the counter took one look and said, “Oh yeah, that happens to everyone. But your stitches look good.”

“I can’t do anything to make it lie flat?”

“No,” came a chorus from the cash register, where a few others had gathered. “But this happens to everyone.”

I stuck the scarf back in my bag. I could see they had yarn to shelve, knitting needles to sort, and, okay, Ron’s mum had her magic, but maybe it even happened to her.

So what’s the moral here? There are some things nobody’s going to tell you until you’re done. You make something, doing the best you can at the time. You let it go. And be grateful for a lovely model.

Happy birthday, Emily!



  1. I love your scarf! And yeah–the stockinette stitch is what makes it curl in. I think my son learned a secret edge stitch in school in Germany that helps it not do it so much, but I just don’t get it when he explains it. FWIW, the ribbing stitch doesn’t curl. But with a scarf, curling is just fine! It makes warm, cozy pockets of air. 🙂

  2. At least you’re brave enough to try something new. And your daughter is *beautiful*.

  3. Thanks for the encouraging words, Rose! The woman at the shop said if I ribbed the edges it shouldn’t curl in. So maybe I’ll try that next time, if I can figure it out. Or just go for those “warm, cozy pockets of air!”

  4. It’s fun (of course not without its frustrations) to be learning something that once seemed baffling.

  5. Ahhh! I get it now! That must be what my son learned to do.
    Thanks for the explanation! And stay warm with that scarf. Methinks it’s a good year to be knitting!

  6. It looks great on her. I wouldn’t worry about the curling. It must have been the yarn you used. I’ve never had that happen. Move on to the next project now – something for yourself! And choose some fun yarns to play with!

  7. The scarf is simply smashing! Well done, you.

  8. Very nice! I don’t knit, but it would be fun to crochet such a scarf 🙂

  9. I love your curly scarf, and the beautiful model wearing it!

  10. “But your stitches look good.”
    So there you go! 🙂

  11. I think it looks great on Emily! I love the act of knitting, but can’t sustain it through a whole project–too many places where I mess up and don’t know what to do next. Crocheting isn’t as much fun, but I can deal with the minor problems much easier. Need to get some yarn in my hands for something soon. 🙂

  12. It seems you already know – but yeah you have to knit a border that won’t curl. I’ve researched it online and found patterns, but I don’t know them off the top of my head
    — or choose patterns that lie flat. There is also double sided knitting….

  13. btw I think it looks great!

  14. Brava on your first scarf! It looks lovely – curled or not. And made with love! 🙂

  15. Beautiful job on the scarf!!!
    Speaking from my not so long experience (about 3 years now) as a compulsive scarf knitter, they’re right, using the garter stitch, that is, knitting every row, does cause end curling and there really isn’t much you can do about it except weigh it down with more tassels than would look good. The trick my local yarn shop goddess taught me was to make the first few rows stockinette, that is knit one row and purl the next. It really doesn’t change the look of the scarf that much and it gets rid of the curl. Hope this helps!

  16. I’ve got two other scarves (for me!) in process which I can now finish. Choosing yarns. Sigh. What bliss is that. I just need longer evenings…

  17. Smashing! Thank you, Angela!

  18. It was a fun project. I may now have to learn to crochet…

  19. Thanks for your sweetness, Jama!

  20. It was kind of the reverse of a turn-down editorial letter, with the good part coming after the “but.”

  21. There was someone in our intro class who’d been knitting for years, including lots of sweaters, but she’d just moved away from her mom who was always the fixer. She was taking the class to learn not the basics but what to do when she got stuck. Besides banging her head against the table which she did at least metaphorically pretty often.
    It is really hard to figure out how to fix those mistakes, and I’m afraid I left some in this scarf. You know, to show it was handmade.

  22. I guess I know a little bit more now! A little. Thanks for your help and support, Rachel!

  23. Thanks, Debbi! I’m thinking of you, hoping your Monday is going well.

  24. If I manage to leave a mistake in AND move on, I just call that “artistic discretion.” 🙂 I know the head-banging; when I look at/for a dropped stitch & someone’s telling me how to find it/pick it up, I feel like I’m back in Geometry again!

  25. Re: Beautiful job on the scarf!!!
    Hmmm, but this IS stockinette!
    I laughed at the image of tassels bunched everywhere to try to weight it down. Well, never mind, I am happy to be joining this happy and generous guild of knitters!

  26. HA!

  27. it’s beautiful!

  28. Gosh, I have nice friends. Thanks, Jen!

  29. Knitting
    I love your scarf!
    Here are two ways to have stockinette that does not curl:
    1. Knit 4 stitches at the beginning AND end of each row. That will flatten it out.
    May a super cozy scarf in the round. It will be all stockinette and a big tube. You can sew the ends up when you are done. I teach my kids to knit in the round because they find it much easier.
    Please just call on me for advice–you know I have been knitting since I was 4 and I am happy to give advice online.
    I am thrilled you have learned…and I love Webs so much. When I was at Smith, they were in Amherst. I order online when my local store doesn’t have what I need.
    I love the scarf…so gorgeous!

  30. So what’s the moral here? There are some things nobody’s going to tell you until you’re done. You make something, doing the best you can at the time. You let it go.
    Oh I LOVE this. Love the scarf but I love the moral a lot!

  31. Ahhh! I love it! 🙂

  32. Re: Knitting
    Thanks, Robin! You are too nice and wise. Number one sounds like a good way to go.

  33. of course moving on is harder than it sounds… but we can try, and the knitting sure gives me lots of practice. Thanks, Susan.

  34. Oh, and what a lovely model she is! I love seeing pictures of the two of you…although I keep trying to figure out what’s hanging above your heads! 🙂
    And you know, I like curly scarves–they hug the neck better.

  35. The scarf and the model look fabulous. And so does the happy mom behind them both!
    (I have a husband who wears his own curling scarf with pride.)

  36. knitting
    That scarf looks pretty darn good to me! I am a sometime knitter. I have knit a few scarves, that’s about it… and I knit two of them for dear hubby, who lost both of them. But I still love him.

  37. Love it!

  38. I’m glad to have another champ for curly scarves. I think it was my own vanity of just wanting to see all those little stitches displayed out one after another… not a bad thing to let go of!

  39. Thanks for the cheers, Amy. I seem to be making another curling scarf so I hope I, too, can be proud.

  40. Re: knitting
    My knitting goals really stop at scarves, and having something to do while my husband and I spend the rest of the winter and probably into summer and fall watching the 80 or so episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs. Scarves do have a way of slipping off necks and getting lost, but I hope I can be as forgiving as you if that happens. I think I might just rather not know.

  41. Thanks, Mona.

  42. Re: knitting
    I almost didn’t know, but someone gave it away. The thing is, he lost the second one the day I found out about the NBA finalist for C & E, and I just have to forgive him. He was away, and so excited, he lost the scarf. Apparently he made many phone calls, went back to the restaurant, etc. I guess it was just so beautiful, someone stole it. (Actually, it was pretty much of a mess, so…maybe they threw it out?)

  43. Re: knitting
    That’s a charming story. I love his excitement, and losing things is very Pierre Curie-ish (just don’t carry radium in your pocket, as he did). And I expect getting the nomination would put you in a forgiving mood. There are many scarves, just one Charles and Emma.
    I’m sure no one threw it out! Maybe someday you’ll spot a passerby…

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