Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues
I’ve got another book to tell you about today. This one’s about skill building and style. The book is “Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues” by Audrey Knight. New knitters are often drawn to making scarves because they are simple rectangles that don’t have to fit. Sometimes experienced knitters joke about the newbie scarf knitters and how they need to build their skills so they can move beyond scarves. In this book, you’ll learn how to build your skills whether or not you ever want to make anything else besides a scarf. I love this idea because a) I enjoy making scarves (and shawls) myself, and b) there are lots of gorgeous designs in this book and many different techniques to keep newer knitters challenged for a long time.
Please listen in as I discuss the book with Audrey!
DD: I love the book, first off. I love scarves and it’s really fun to have reversible ones, especially for those of us who are perfectionists and never want the wrong side to show to the world!
AK: I’m glad you like my book “Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues,” Donna! The idea for it came from exactly what you’re talking about – the frustration of having the wrong side facing out. It used to drive me crazy to spend hours knitting scarves for friends who, being non-knitters, didn’t realize they were wearing the ugly side out for all the world to see. When I learned about reversible stitch patterns, I was in heaven.
Rather than searching through hundreds of patterns every time I wanted to find a reversible design, I thought “Wouldn’t it be great if I could just pull a book off my shelf and find lots of options all in one place?” I literally wrote the book I wanted on my own shelf!
DD: You start off right away with one of my favorite things in the world: variations on a theme. You have a mistake rib scarf in several different weights as the first project in the book, and you follow on with variations of several other techniques later on. What would you like knitters to learn from looking at these variations?
AK: I named Chapter 1 “Decisions, Decisions” because I want to give the less-experienced knitter a framework for thinking about how she or he can customize patterns to suit their needs. I remember when the light bulb came on in my own head when I learned I could stray from a pattern’s exact yarn exact color, or exact texture. It opened up a whole new world!
Scarves are the perfect accessory to experiment with fibers, colors, and gauge. I offer questions we can ask ourselves about the person we’re knitting for, to make the scarf just right for that individual. It all boils down to considering their lifestyle, whether urban or rural, glamorous or rugged. We can take control of our yarn choices to create just the right look.
In other parts of the book I show variations to spark even more creativity. Sometimes I mix different textures, and sometimes I give ideas for using yarns from a stash. My Woven Dots design came about all because I had a skein of variegated worsted yarn I didn’t know what to do with. I know I’m not alone in having beautiful “orphans” on hand!
DD: How on earth did you come up with so many interesting techniques to make reversible patterns?
AK: I’ve taken wonderful classes along the way. Various designs were influenced by techniques I learned from Gwen Bortner, Cat Bordhi, JC Briar and Lily Chin. I also read as much as possible in books and magazine articles. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to instructors and authors!
In keeping with my goal of a long shelf life for my “Reversible Scarves” book, I include many different techniques to choose from. Less experienced knitters can start with some of the simple knit/purl designs, then try more challenging techniques as they learn new skills. At the same time, more advanced knitters can work one of the more challenging designs such as the Stefanie Moebius for quiet times of concentration, or pick an easier pattern well suited to social knitting.
Check out the patterns on Ravelry!
DD: What’s your favorite personal knitting technique and why?
AK: One of the things I love best about knitting is the wide variety of techniques to choose from. I can pick whatever suits my mood, or learn something brand new. Literally, my favorite technique is whatever I’m working on at the moment. Lately I’ve been designing with twisted stitches, which I found to be a fun challenge. The result was my Emmalina Hat design. After that I was glad to get back to familiar ground, making the Double Eyelet and Cables scarf from my book; my mother wants a blue version of it.
DD: Which scarf was your favorite to make? To wear? (You are not allowed to say “I don’t have a favorite.”)
AK: My favorite scarf to make was Mixer. It has a playful quality that I love. It’s my current airplane and social knitting project, since it’s a simple knit/purl design. I can follow the pattern while crammed into an airplane seat, or – back on the ground – while chatting and laughing with knitting friends.
My favorite scarf to wear is Sprouts. Everyone who sees it seems to like it, which makes me very happy. It’s made of Berroco Ultra Alpaca and is double-knit, so its soft and snuggly and warm.
DD: Who are the models in your book? (I recognize several of them!) They all look so comfortable in the photographs but they are real people — not photoshopped or all the same age, size, and shape.
AK: I’m so pleased that you noticed the variety of people in the photos. This is in keeping with a theme of the book – that we often knit scarves for specific people, all who are in different times in life, all who have different styles of their own. Caro Sheridan is the amazing photographer who shot most of the photos, and many of the models are her friends. Fittingly, she shot most of the book at the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival last year. Additional photography was shot by Colleen Rosenthal in San Luis Obispo, California. She photographed my wedding years ago, and is a lot of fun to work with.
DD: Can you talk a bit about what qualifies as “reversible” to you? Obviously not everything that is reversible is identical on both sides.
AK: Patterns that are different but attractive on both sides also qualify. A perfect example is the linen stitch. On one side it looks like woven fabric, on the other it has pretty pearl-like bumps. Any way its worn, it looks beautiful. Another pattern that comes to mind is the fun Surprise Strips scarf, which magically has vertical stripes on one side and horizontal stripes on the other.
DD: Kudos on the “make it your own” boxes! I love giving knitters the tools to go further than just following patterns. What spurred you to include this information?
AK: Thank you for the kudos! The “Make It Your Own” sidebars are yet another aspect of the book which gives it a long shelf life. Not only are there loads of patterns and techniques that knitters can follow as written, but they can also create their own designs using the tips I provide. I hope I’ve offered inspiration.
DD: Can I have the “That’s a Wrap” sample to keep?
AK: I’m afraid you’re going to have to get in line. During trunk shows, it’s been a popular piece!
DD: Well, I’m hooked on Feather and Fan lately and red always catches my eye, especially when it’s semi-solid or hand-painted shades.
I see that Cooperative Press is the publisher of your book. I love what they are doing, helping so many creative designers get their visions published. Why did you choose to work with C-P?
AK: Shannon Okey, the owner of Cooperative Press, really “got” the concept of my book proposal in a way that others did not. Her enthusiasm made the process a lot of fun! I was extremely fortunate to be assigned CP’s Assistant Editor, Elizabeth Green Musselman, as editor. She was a dream to work with! I’m very, very grateful to the Cooperative Press team for the opportunity.
DD: Audrey, thanks so much for giving us a peek behind the scenes of your book, “Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues.” I wish you continuing success in this and all of your knitting, design, and writing endeavors in the future.