Thursday, April 16, 2020

A Knitting Post - Zena's Zig Zag scarf

As well as cooking a lot I've also been knitting a bit, although not as much as I'd like - I'm just not concentrating properly, and keep making stupid mistakes which then take an age to undo.

This Zig Zag scarf was no exception. I chose it for it's simplicity, and I suppose something a bit more complicated might have made me focus more, but I've also wanted to knit some version of this ever since I bought 'A Legacy of Shetland Lace' by the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers.

When I was at primary school in Shetland the girls were all taught to knit in class as a matter of course, and Zena Thomson was our teacher. She was patient, and excellent at making you feel like you could do a thing, endlessly picking up dropped stitches, monitoring progress, and making sure you had something fit to take home with proper pride. I remember her with deep affection, and am so glad that some of her patterns made it into the Legacy book.

It's also appropriate that it's next to another of Zena's patterns that there's a note about the phrase "Wha haes a guid or an ill fit", it seems "it was always noted if a visitor came in when a new garment was just starting. If a visitor was already believed to be an 'ill fit', the knitting was likely to be re-started. If knitting went wrong after it was underway, the knitter would remember who had visited when it was newly started."

As I've been diligently observing the lockdown I can say with certainty that I'm my own ill fit because I kept messing this up from the start, there's another Shetland word - haandless (meaning clumsy) which would also apply. Every time I had to go back and fix something I thought of Zena, who is still teaching me to be patient, and to produce something I can eventually be proud of.

Her zig zag scarf is knit in 1ply and would be a good starting point for anyone wanting to experiment with a delicate Shetland lace as it's both simple (also no grafting required) and effective, but I wanted something bigger and more robust that would feel actively comforting to wrap around yourself. With that in mind I used Jamieson's spindrift, which is a jumper weight. I like the fabric it produces, and even better Shetland wool has a 'sticky' quality that means dropped stitches tend not to run, but politely wait for you to pick them up. 

I also dropped the edging from the original pattern, which I didn't think would work so well on the larger scale, I also wanted to keep the wavy effect that the original edging straightens out. In the end I was pleased with the results, the finished scarf has been sent to a friend, and I have ideas about what else I can do with this motif. 

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