Slow Fashion DIY Tutorial: Textured merino scarf

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You can probably tell by the photo that I have a little announcement to make! I am lucky enough to be expecting my second child around New Years, and this has lead to whole world of sustainable maternity fashion. I was sustainably minded during my first pregnancy, but I thought that sustainable maternity options didn’t exist, so I didn’t investigate. Now I know that I was wrong! There are a few good options for the sustainably-conscious mama-to-be, and I will be writing about these soon. But today I am presenting a simple tutorial for this scarf I designed to cover my growing bump over winter.

Rather than buy expensive maternity jumpers (sweaters) and coats, I have made do as much as possible with non-maternity alternatives- open draped cardigans and wearing my winter coats opened. But this has left my growing bump exposed to the cold, so I knitted up this lovely merino scarf, wide-enough and long- enough to keep my chest and belly warm against the cold. But you don’t need to be pregnant to enjoy the lovely warmth of this scarf, and it will be a winter wardrobe staple for me for years to come, I am sure!

This scarf uses a simple stitch pattern to give the knit it’s texture. It is an ideal beginner project, as the only skills you need to know for this project are casting on, knit stitch, purl stitch and casting off. It is a great project to practice remembering simple stitch patterns that swap between knit and pearl stitch on the same row, without any added complications of shaping, or adding or decreasing stitches. It is just a rectangle. But if you want to simplify the project even further- for an absolute beginner- you can forgo the stitch pattern and just knit every row (no purl stitches) and the project will work just as well.

For this project you will need:

  • 5 Balls of 8 ply (DK weight) organic merino wool (or just organic wool if you can’t find merino)*
  • 1 pair of 5mm (US size 8, UK size 6) knitting needles (bamboo if possible for the most sustainable choice)
  • 1 yarn needle
  • Tape measure
  • A pair of scissors

*Wool is best for the warmth, merino is softer and warmer than many other types of wool, so it a great choice. I used Treliske organic merino wool from New Zealand, in the natural hues of the sheep, purchased at my favourite yarn store Eco Yarns. Organic wool is the most sustainable choice, as conventional wool is chemically processed and chemically dyed. However, conventional wool is more sustainable than many other fibers, so conventional wool is preferable to synthetics or conventional cottons. Vegans can substitute the wool for another fiber of choice, but it will difficult to match the warmth of wool.

To begin the project, cast on 44 stitches. If you need some guidance on casting on, watch this short clip on how to cast on knitting stitches.

Row 1: Knit 2 stitches, Purl 2 stitches and rep to the end of the row (finishing with two purl stitches). If you need some guidance on how to make a knit stitch, watch Knitting 101: How to knit the knit stitch for beginners. If you need some guidance on how to make the purl stitch, watch Knitting 101: How to knit the purl stitch for beginners.

Row 2: Repeat row 1

Row 3: Pearl 2 stitches, Knit 2 stitches and rep to the end (finishing with two knit stitches)

Row 4: Repeat row 3

Scarf Close Up

Continue in this 4 row pattern until your scarf measures 240cm (or longer if you prefer). Above you can see a close up of how the stitch pattern looks. When you come to the end of a ball of yarn, you will need to join your new ball of yarn mid-row. Once your scarf reaches the desired length, cast off loosely following the stitch pattern (the cast off row should be a row 2 or row 4, if possible, but this isn’t too critical). For guidance on how to do this, watch Knitting for beginners: how to cast off.

For the final finishing touches, weave in the yarn tails from the cast on and cast off rows You can watch how to do this here. The loose ends from where you have joined the new ball of yarn, you can simply snip these tails of yarn away- no need to weave them in. (Be careful not to snip your scarf as I accidentally did- otherwise you will have a hole  to mend already!)

Scarf Final

If is worthwhile keeping some spare yarn handy, in case you ever get moth holes in the scarf. But even if you don’t end up keeping some spare yarn, if the garment ever gets holes or snags too much, you can simply unwind the wool and knit it again. When you use good quality yarn, the yarn can be used over and over again. I still remember in the late-80s (when I was 7 and learning to knit) , you could find balls of yarn at the thrift stores that the volunteers has unwound from damaged garments. These days this is hard to find because so few clothes use high quality yarns. But we can change this by opting out of our throw-away economy and choosing high quality sustainable textiles. This scarf may cost around $30-$50 for the wool, but the wool will last you a lifetime and beyond. How many mass-manufactured scarfs will you be able hand on to your grandchildren?


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