Monday, November 16, 2009

Ruffled Scarf and Other Market News

I am writing at 3:30 a.m. because I fell asleep before 9 p.m. My brain thinks it is morning, so I'm taking advantage of relative alertness to make this update.
Sundays frequently end early, as I'm up by 6 to start the hectic market day. I begin by loading equipment and products into the car, if I haven't completed that task the night before. Then I have a quick breakfast and get cleaned up and dressed to present a nice vendor image. After I drive downtown, I check in, get a cup of coffee, and unload my equipment. It takes about two and one-half hours to put my booth together and get all my products displayed.
Yesterday was a milestone, my first run of three consecutive market weeks. Now that I know I can do it, I have prepared for the rest of the season and the coming spring by upgrading my equipment a bit. No, I didn't hit for a fancy display setup (think $3000). I spent a few bucks at Bed, Bath and Beyond on snap-together cubes made of metal grids, a reduced flat bedsheet and two rolling hanging clothes racks. For less than $130, I now have a nice cube system that sits on top of my table and holds items like hats and wash cloths, plenty of hanging space for scarves, baby sweaters, baby blankets and adult clothing. I was thrilled to have a more professional looking, organized store yesterday.
With a proper display system, I attract more lookers and shoppers. People were stopping in awe just to say "Did you make all of these yourself?" and I could proudly say that I designed and knitted or crocheted everything in the shop. It was much easier to show what I had and help buyers select things for themselves and for gifts. I even had a proper packaging station set up, and room to write down my credit card purchases and special orders.
One of the most fun events of yesterday's market was recruiting neighboring vendors to help me sing "Happy Birthday" to my mom. It was her 90th. I knew I would be exhausted and that call would have to do for the day. We sung with enthusiasm. No one would have special-ordered that performance. I asked my mom how it felt to be 90, and she said "I feel old." She's entitled.

Special orders have increased lately. Last week I had three from the market, and I completed the pair of extra skinny fingerless mitts, the green ruffled scarf you see below, and an entrelac organic cotton wash cloth this week. The holiday hand towels you see were knitted for another special order, and I finished Valentine's Day and blocked them both for mailing tomorrow. The little Christmas trees and heart are duplicate knit. Simple patterns like that can be free-handed, but if I have any requests I will publish the diagrams.

Speaking of patterns, here's the ruffled scarf:

The scarf is worked back and forth on circular needles. The final length is about 74 inches. Gauge is unimportant.
Materials: approximately 220 yards of worsted weight yarn (I used Superwash Worsted from, but their Wool/Bamboo would have worked nicely, too.), a long circular size 6 needle, a long circular size 7 needle, and a yarn needle for weaving ends

With smaller needle, cast on 180 stitches loosely. You don't want a tight, uncomfortable edge around the neck.
Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: Knit into front and back of each stitch. (360 stitches)
Row 3: Changing to larger needle, knit.
Row 4: Knit into front and back of each stitch. (720 stitches)
Rows 5-7: Knit. You can make the ruffle wider by adding more rows here.
Final row: Cast off loosely.
Weave in ends.

A note about the hand towels. They are knitted from Cotlin, 50% linen, 50% cotton. It handles beautifully, softening as you knit. Most of my series are knit on size 5 straight needles with a fairly simple block pattern. The Valentine's towel is the exception, as the lacy pattern suited the theme. Keeping in mind where the center fold would be, I knit a section of stockinette into each towel to serve as a background for duplicate knitting motifs. You want this in the lower half of the towel so that it shows when you fold it over a towel bar. I have two more to complete this custom holiday series (I began with Halloween and Thanksgiving, and St. Patrick's Day and 4th of July will complete it.) I'll publish stitch counts and basic construction as I work on the final two.

My early morning awake time is fading fast. I think I can manage two more hours of sleep.

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