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Math4Knitters, Crafty Living: Show 106

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Michelle Davies - The Journal Gazette
I LOVE this wrap.

Math4Knitters, Crafty Living: Show 106

Michelle Davies - The Journal Gazette
I had to convince Michelle that this photo makes a lot of sense, to knitters.
Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
I had to tuck up the right edge, but you get the idea of the shape.
Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
This is from the blended side of the work - the traditional wrong side. It's my favorite, though. You can see the tiny ridge formed by the decreased yarn-over stitches.
Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
Another view of the same idea. The upper part is with Nutmeg, the lower part is with Glazed Pecan. The variegated color is William Morris.
Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
This is the outer edge, with the bold stripes side up. Note how the edge stitches are blended stripes.
Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
Blended stripes on the left, bold striped edge on the right, with a little of the bold striped area in the upper-right-hand color. The sinuous line is formed by twisting the two colors together at the border between bold and blended stripes.
Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
I like looking at it almost as I like wearing it. This is the neck edge, seen from the top.
Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
I'm just trying to showcase the drape with this one. It is glorious.

This week, I chat with Gwen Steege and share a pattern for a garter-stitch wrap with a few twists to it.

Bold and Blended Striped Wrap

When I was in high school, my aunt Marilyn (who was actually my second cousin, I think), asked my sister and I what we wanted to wear, most of all.

Marilyn was an incredibly gifted seamstress who made wedding gowns and bridal party dresses that were true works of art. She also made a few things, here and there, for my sister and I. She was super-cool and had an very fun family, as well. Her husband carved tree trunks into totem poles and other things, using a chain saw. I seem to remember that they may have had a totem pole in their living room, but I'm not sure if that is true. I could check with my mom, but I guess I'd rather believe it, either way.

My sister, Lisa, thought of it first - a cloak, to wear as a winter coat. We're from Oklahoma, where when people say "two below," they mean "two degrees below freezing," which is not at all what it means to me now. So, a warmish, longish winter cloak is perfectly fine as a winter coat. I didn't replace it until I was about to go to college in Massachusetts.

Lisa wanted a green, Irish peasant cape. I told Marilyn I didn't know what I would like best. She said she knew exactly what I needed - a French opera cloak. It was made of black wool, lined in red velvet, had a hood, and a little pocket under one of the arm-slits just large enough for a can of soda.

To further clarify, Lisa and I went to a school where the arts, and a little eccentricity, were both encouraged. I don't know if we could have gotten away with this at a whole lot of other schools.

For the record, except for in truly cold climates, I have no idea why capes and cloaks are no longer absolutely normal garments to wear. I had to pay a little more attention to car doors and glassware on the lower shelves of stores, but, otherwise, it was the perfect winter cover-up for me.

If it were not too cold, I could wear it fairly open, and not overheat myself. If the wind was blowing a bit, I could really wrap myself up against it. Water and snow both just slid off of it. If I was just about ready for swim practice and had to run out to my car in my swimsuit, I could wrap myself up, flip up my hood, and be fairly decent during my little sprint. On long car trips, or bus trips for swim meets, I used it as a blanket. It was truly perfect.

My cloak also made me feel more elegant and put-together than I probably deserved to feel as a slightly awkward teenager, and I'm grateful for that, too.

I still wear it, sometimes, as a cover up for bellydance costumes, but the fabric is starting to give way, especially the red velvet lining. So, it has pride of place in my "extra" closet, next to my wedding dress.

I thought about my cloak, again, as I knit away on this striped, garter-stitch wrap. By the time I was finishing up the third quarter of it, I could cover my legs pretty well with it as I knit. When I was working on the fourth quarter, on the plane home from my lovely family Christmas, I was able to cozy up under it, just as did under my cloak all of those years ago. It made me think of Marilyn, who is gone now, but who lives forever in my heart, and with my gratitude for keeping me warm, and helping me express my individuality, all through high school.

In the end, sock yarn on #8 needles creates a lovely fabric that drapes and warms, without feeling or looking like a stiff blanket. Also, the garter stitch stripes can be turned either inside or out, so you can have strong, bold stripes or a more blended look, depending on your mood and outfit.

The wrap's shape is a little asymmetrical, and is based on my Heptagonal Wash/Dish/Anycloth from the summer of 2010, but uses a little yarn-over technique to deal with the short-row turns and deals with two colors and edge stitches.

The colors for the wrap are changed after two rows, but not right at the edge of the piece. Instead, the switch happens 5 stitches in. This allows the outer edge to be nice and smooth, and adds a little extra patterning at the point of the switch. If you are careful to always twist your two colors together in the same way, they form a neat little line of wiggles that are perpendicular to the edge of the wrap. If you look carefully at mine, you will be able to tell when I was watching movies in the dark, because they don't lie so neatly then. Four large short-row wedges form the wrap, and I changed one color for each wedge, for four color combinations, but I think it would also look great in just two colors or as many colors as you wish to use. My version used 368 grams of sock yarn.

Let's assume you wanted to be brave and try this with less yarn - let's say two skeins - 768 meters.

How many stitches could you make with that much yarn?

The four wedges can be grouped into two sets of two wedges. Taken together, two wedges are roughly equivalent to a rectangle that is 250 rows long and 126 stitches wide plus 5 edge stitches for 500 rows, and it takes two of these rectangles to complete the wrap. <(250 x 126) + (5 x 500)> x 2 is <31500 + 2500> x 2 is 34000 x 2 is 68000 stitches. The original took approximately 1248 meters of yarn - so there are about 54.49 stitches per meter of yarn. The new amount of yarn should yield about 41,846 stitches.

Divided by 2 (1 for each equivalent rectangle) = 20923 stitches.

X is the number of stitches cast on with color 2.

{<2X(X+1)> + 20X} = (Xsquared + X + 10X)2 = 20923

which means:

Xsquared + 11X = 10461.5

My goodness. Let's guess, shall we?


X = 100; product is 11100


X = 90; product is 8100 + 990 = 9090


X = 95; product is 9025 + 1045 = 10070


X = 96; product is 9216 + 1056 = 10272


X = 97; product is 9409 + 1067 = 10476

So, the closest one is 96, which should need about 41088 stitches to complete, or 754 meters.

The resulting scarf would start by casting on 5 stitches in color 1 and 96 stitches in color 2. Substitute 94 for 123 everywhere in the pattern, otherwise following it as written.

I have not done this and can't be sure it would work, but it would be fun to find out! I think it would turn out to be about 14 inches deep and about 40 inches wide, but it's hard to say, exactly.


I talked this week with Gwen Steege about The Knitter's Life List, the sweepstakes you can still enter, War and Peace and a bunch of other things. I had a great time and I hope she did, too.