Woolen warmth: Columnist gives a new approach for scarf making

Wednesday, September 27, 2006
(Submitted photo)

Though I've spent most of my free moments over the past few weeks making fans to hand out at football games, my mind wanders to real football weather.

I long for chilly days and breezy nights, evenings so cold you can't feel the tip of your nose. I can't wait to cheer for the Rebels with appendages frozen to the point that it stings to clap my muffled hands.

On those days, scarves are my favorite winter accessory because they can wrap your shoulders, wind around your neck or warm your ears. And though they're the most versatile of woolen objects, knitting just isn't on my list of hobbies. Amazing, I know, but nothing about the craze seems to appeal to me.

That's why I was so excited to find out my lack of laundry knowledge (see last month's column) could be put to good use in bringing warmth to my life.

Sometimes there's just not enough time to hand wash a sweater. Occasionally one can successfully machine launder a "hand wash only" garment, but I've pressed my luck one too many times.

That trash -- along with some treasure found during my frequent thrifty adventures - has become my new base for creating beautiful scarves.

If you're a laundry pro, here's the basic way to ruin a sweater: take a sweater that is at least 80 percent wool and wash it in hot water. Then run it through a high-heat dryer cycle until it's completely dry.

This process is also known as felting and should result in an amazingly smaller and more tightly knit sweater coming out of your dryer.

When you've got a few sweaters felted, it's time to start visualizing your new scarf. You'll be cutting squares out of your sweaters so while you're thinking about your size and design, it's good to start cutting the arms and cuffs off and divide the shell of the sweater into front and back pieces.

I like to use 5-inch-by-6-inch squares or 4-inch-by-7-inch squares for most of my scarves. It's easiest for me if I cut a piece of paper to use as a pattern. Your squares won't be exactly square, but they should be about roughly the same size so that you can piece them together later.

Most of my scarves are between 6 and 8 squares long so make sure you have enough deconstructed sweater scraps.

Once your pieces are cut, grab a needle and some embroidery thread and start sewing the squares together. I usually butt the ends together and quick stitch them in place.

An evening in front of the TV can result in a mass of new scarves for your whole crew.

And they'll be perfect for those evenings in front of the fire or under the bright lights of the football stadium.

Vanessa Cook is a former Southeast Missourian copy editor who dabbles in decorating.

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