Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Help--We're Surrounded By Ruffles

Remember me? I'm the blogging snail.
You never know what will show up at your door or how it will impact your life. Such was the day when my neighbor, Patty, walked across the street for some reason I no longer remember. What I do remember is that she was dressed in shades of pink and around her neck was the most beautiful scarf I'd ever seen. It swirled and swished and looked almost ethereal. I couldn't take my eyes off of it.

Isn't that a smashing scarf?
Knowing Patty was a knitter as well as a quilter, I inquired if she had made the three-toned scarf herself. She informed me she'd purchased it at a craft show and had paid $25 for it. I gave the lacy scarf a good looking over and for as long as I've knitted--40 plus years--I couldn't figure out how a simple ball of yarn had been transformed into a great fashion accessory.

A few days later, Patty called and asked if she could drop by for a minute. It was early evening and I'd just curled up in my hubby's favorite chair and settled in to watch a good movie. When Patty arrived, she was holding the ugliest ball of yarn I'd ever seen. "Can you show me how to knit a ruffled scarf?" she asked. I replied that I'd give it a try, but first I'd have to figure it out myself. I looked at the directions on the back of the label but they made little sense. After all, this is not your "regular" yarn but something that's all wadded up into a mish-mash that has to be straightened out before the first stitch can be taken. Not only that, the straightened yarn was about an inch wide and consisted mostly of something that looked like fish net.

Try as I might, I simply couldn't figure out the clue to knitting with the unwieldy fabric. I tossed the whole thing aside and decided not to think about it till tomorrow. But wait. Hadn't I seen an Internet address on the bottom of the yarn label? You bet I had. And watching their video of how to knit with this odd yarn was most informative. Wanting more instructions, I went to YouTube and watched about a half dozen more demos on knitting with fish net yarn.

This is the photo I'll use on my election
posters. I think I look good in a hat.
I had it. Since I'd pretty much lost the thread of the movie I'd been watching, I settled in with needles and yarn and by the time I was ready to head off to bed, I'd knitted about 6 inches of scarf. I felt like a victor. Like I'd solved one of the world's toughest problems. Like maybe I should run for mayor. Or maybe even Congress.

The following day I showed Patty how to knit with that yarn and she showed Laverne and now every Snail Trail meeting is filled with ruffled scarves in every rainbow color. I think it's safe to say that our small group is drowning in them because every Tuesday night, the "scarf" knitters show up with their entire entourage of ruffles. Not just the current work in progress, but everything created during the week. And maybe even the week before. I blame it on the "show and tell" time we have together before taking up our current project.

Laverne's ruffled collection takes
up half of my couch. Love the colors.
Seems that Laverne always has the most show and tell. She is a prolific knitter now that she's conquered the ruffle yarn, which is advertised as quick and easy. Don't let the label fool you. It isn't quick or easy until you figure out how to handle the product. Laverne has mastered or should I say invented, the best way I've seen to get that yarn knitted into a scarf in a single day. Her first one took three days. Then she put her mind to work and figured out how to knit smarter. She showed the rest of us what she'd come up with and every knitter in the group was impressed.

My cat was fascinated watching the yarn
move from the roller.
Seems that years ago, Laverne's hubby had made her a wooden contraption where-in she could have her bead collection at the ready for when she designed and created her bead jewelry. As she tells it, she eyeballed that and thought it would make a good place to hold her ruffle yarn, so she took an empty paper towel roller, cut it to size, and went to work figuring out how to make it work for her.

Tape the beginning of the yarn to the
paper towel cardboard.
First thing she did is to unroll a bit of the yarn and stick the end down with scotch tape. She opened the yarn as she went and by the time she was around once, she stuck big pins on each side of the yarn to keep it stretched. As she rolled the yarn, she moved the pins, so every layer was held in place. She rolled half of the yarn on one end of the cardboard and the other half beside it so the tube would roll evenly.

When she was ready to knit, she positioned the non-working needle between her legs, thereby leaving both hands free to get the yarn to where it was supposed to be. While most directions say to knit with the needle in the first opening, it is far easier to knit by using the first LARGE opening in the fish net. It also makes a sturdier base for the scarf.

Hmm, which one looks best on me?
While Laverne was at my home so I could take pictures of how she had figured out a way to easily work with the new ruffled yarns, a couple of my friends dropped by. With all those scarves spread out on the couch, the dazzling colors and shapes drew them to having to have a closer look. One friend just had to try on nearly every scarf. The other friend wanted to know exactly how to make them and asked where to buy the yarn. Oddly enough, neither friend informed me as to why they'd stopped by. I guess their heads were too full of color and their imaginations thinking which bunch of ruffles would look best on them.

So it's finished and sitting in a
drawer waiting for Christmas
to roll around.
I had asked Laverne to sell me the one in progress as I knew a family member who would just love it. She generally makes things for the Christmas craft fairs she participates in, but she allowed me to purchase the one I asked for. Of course I could have knitted one myself, but I'm in the middle of my own Christmas knitting and quilting, so I figured it would be quicker to purchase one already finished. Am I smart or what?

Coming Up Soon:

Our group is blessed to have a Snail Trail member whose quilt entry won the Viewer's Choice award at the San Diego Quilt Show in 2010. Her quilts are exquisite. Next blog, I'll show you her work and tell you everything she knows about applique, since that's what she majors in.

Till next time....

Laverne's favorite ruffled yarn is readily
available at Joann's for less than $5 a
ball. There are dozens of ruffled yarns
in the stores now, with prices going up
to $17 a ball. A bit of advice here:
start with the less expensive yarn to see
if you like working with it. Then spread
out if it suits you.