The Season for Handwoven Scarves

In the last week or so, the weather has taken a turn for the cold as temperatures tip-toe around freezing each night and even the normally rambunctious dogs seem unwilling to leave the warm bed in the morning. It’s definitely the time of year where I get the itch to start weaving scarves–because let’s face it, there are few things better than handwoven scarves on a cold day!

Not only is the weather conducive to scarf wearing, but we’re also in the homestretch for Christmas. The day this newsletter goes out there will be but one month until the day. Every year since I took up weaving I have woven somebody else in my family a scarf for Christmas. Unlike the dishtowels that I weave in a massive batch from an extra-long warp, I weave only one or two scarves, each one tailored for the person in question.

Also unlike dishtowels, designing a scarf to weave for a specific person takes more thought than just choosing colors and a draft. Does the person prefer sleek and elegant scarves or something thick and fluffy? Should the scarf be long for optimal wrapping and warmth, or should it be shorter so it can just be tossed on with a favorite outfit? What about making a lighter scarf that can be worn most of the year? Should the fringe be long and fancy twists or cut short and hemstitched? There’s a lot to consider.

Last year I made three handwoven scarves for three very different people. All three were for men with specific color tastes and scarf needs. For my widower grandfather, I chose a classic herringbone pattern and wove it in a deep navy and warm gray. I knew handwashing would be out of the question, so I used a soft acrylic blend and tested it by throwing a woven sample into the wash with a load of clothes. For a tall friend in Colorado I used a warm and soft alpaca in dark charcoal and off-white to weave a simple 4-shaft pattern that made large diamonds so they wouldn’t appear too dainty on and his large. I also made sure to weave the scarf extra-long for the same reason. And for my brother, I used a soft and shiny wool/silk blend in green and gold—the colors associated with his favorite video game series, The Legend of Zelda.

Christina chose larger diamonds for a clean and elegant design that would work well on a man with a larger frame.

Christina chose larger diamonds in black and white for a clean and elegant design that would work well on a man with a larger frame.

While I designed all my handwoven scarves from scratch last year, other times I take a project from Handwoven and modify it. One year, for example, I made my father in law the Scarf Designed with a Guy in Mind from the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Handwoven, but slightly changed the palette, swapping out a green for the blue and a tan for the deep brown to better match his favorite jacket. I also added an extra repeat to make the scarf extra, extra long. The scarf turned out beautifully, and my father in law has told me more than once folks have offered to buy it off of him. (Of course, that is the sort of things Dads tend to say, so take that with a grain of salt.)

I’m currently in the designing stages of this year’s scarf which means I’ve got my copy of Strickler filled with sticky notes, I’ve been thumbing through back issues of Handwoven, and I’ve printed out a few projects from past eBooks. I’m leaning towards modifying a specific recent project from Handwoven, but I may still find a draft in Strickler that I just can’t not weave.

If you’re also itching to weave up some scarves but don’t know where to begin, consider checking out one of Interweave’s scarf kits that come with both the pattern and yarn. If you’d rather choose your own yarn, but still need help finding a project, our eBooks on scarves are excellent resources for discovering beautiful woven scarf patterns. (And for all you rigid-heddle weavers, Jane Patrick and Stephanie Flynn Sokolov’s book Woven Scarves has 26 beautiful patterns perfect for the rigid-heddle loom.) Whatever you weave, I hope you have fun!

Happy Weaving!


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