Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Free Pattern: Madame Luscious Noro Mobius

[Updated 14 Mar. 2010]

This pattern is available as a free PDF Ravelry download.

Download now.

I love luscious scarves, and I love Noro. I traveled to Japan in order to shop for Noro. That is obsessive, but I refuse to seek help.

I started this scarf in Tokyo, with some help from fellow knitting fiend C. over at Rapt With Fiber, using a scrap-yarn mobius cast-on, but the cast-on method doesn't really matter. What matters is that you select some seriously cool Noro yarn and show off the colorways.


3 Skeins Noro Kureyon (Silk Garden will work too, you spoiled brats). That's 300 meters of some lickable variegated, worsted-to-aran weight yarn.

54 inch (from tip-to-tip) circular needle in size 10.5 (I made mine with my Denise Interchangeables).
One spare needle for scrap-yarn cast-on in a smaller size.

Tapestry needle to weave in ends.
Large Cross-Stitch or Embroidery Needle for Russian joining. Looks like a tapestry needle but it has a sharp point.

Cast On Method: Any mobius cast-on method will do. I used the scrap yarn method described at here. Cat Bordhi's method works fine too.

CO 175 stitches onto circular needle if you are using the scrap yarn method, because then you will pick up and double that number of stitches, giving you 350 sts. If you are casting on more conventionally, CO 350 sts.

Place marker to indicate the beginning of round.

Proceed to knit and purl in groups of 1, 2, or 3, giving you variegated ridges along your scarf. (see photo below)

Use Russian Join method to join second skein to first. This is not a good project for weaving in ends, being double-sided and loosely worked. Noro is an excellent yarn for Russian Joining esp. if you add a little felting for good measure. Great instructions for this technique are here (pictures) and here (video -

When you join the last ball of Noro, work one round as above, then work remaining rounds in k2, p2 rib. (see photo below)

The ribbing ensures that the very long edges of the scarf do not roll upon themselves.

Bind Off: Two points about binding off. First, be sure to leave yourself enough yarn to bind off all 350 stitches. That's a lot. Second, bind of LOOSELY. Very loosely. If you bind off with tension, the edges will pull and the scarf will look less luscious.

Note: This scarf lengthens as you wear it. It will gain inches and inches, maybe even a foot, in length, between the time it comes off the needles to the fifth or sixth wear. That's okay, though--just wrap it around your neck again.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fiber Facts: The Science of Felting

I stumbled on this info from a 1883 book on microscopy, called Evenings at the Microscope by Philip Henry Gosse. Gosse examines hairs from several animals under the microscope, and explains why different kinds of wool felt differently. Mammal hairs felt because they are covered with "sheathing scales" (shown in his sketch, below). These scales mean that, when subjected to heat, motion, pressure, and moisture, the hairs become interlaced and entangled. Gosse gives the example of "worsted stockings," which "everyone knows ... shrink in their dimensions, but become much thicker and firmer after they have been worn and washed a little."

After examining different types of wool under a microscope, Gosse concluded that Saxon wool was of the highest quality for felting, because it possessed the greatest number of "serratures/inch," or the highest number of imbrications or connections between the fibers. He gave the following counts:
Saxon wool - 2, 720 serratures/inch
Merino wool - 2, 400 serratures/inch
South-Down wool - 2, 080 serratures/inch
Leicester - 1,850 serratures/inch

To the right is a more recent microscopic image of sheep's wool, from Florida State University--if you look closely, you can see the scales Gosse was describing.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Introduction and Current Projects

Hi, I'm Jordynn and I'm excited to start blogging here at FiberSmarts. (You can check out my regular blog here, for non-knitting related stuff).

My current works in progress:

1) A free-form, fair isle baby cloth. I'm making up the pattern as I go along, but I'll post it to ravelry when I'm done. (My username is CanadianBacon):

2) Legwarmers made from a recycled sweater. I was inspired by Christian's denim design from last week's Project Runway to convert the sleeves into legwarmers. I'm using at 100% wool sweater from Ann Taylor in size M. My plan is to pick up and knit around the top edge in k2, p2 rib, using US size 6's. I'll post an update once I get started. Here are the sleeves as they look now :

3) I'm developing a pattern for some knit, roll top shorts inspired by dancewear. Ballet dancers wear shorts like these over their leotards to keep their hips warm, but also because they just look cool. So why not make some not just for dancers, but for wearing around the house or as PJs? My plan is to figure out something that will look sort of like these.

I'm also excited to start working with this seafoam green Banana Silk yarn, which I got for $13.06 on eBay. I think I'll use it for a home decor item--maybe a pillow cover. I love the sheen to the yarn and the texture, but to be honest it smells a little like hemp!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Luscious Shawl FO

I mentioned this project in an earlier post, that it was inspired by John Brinegar at Yarn Ball Boogie.

This post is also notable in that my face will be revealed, for better or worse, in blogland for the first time. I'm slightly uncomfortable about this, but oh well.

Look at that selvedge. I want to lick it.

The thing measures 42" long and 13" wide. I think I'll secure it in the front with a dpn or something.

Some Changes in the Blog

After many excited discussions over coffee, my knitting partner and general co-conspirator Jordynn and I have decided to combine our fiber design and other creative skills on this blog. She is now a full co-author, and you can read about both of us in the sidebar.

We are using the Fiber Smarts blog as a forum to share our knitting and fiber thoughts and experiences, and some of our patterns (most of which will be collaborative).

We live in the Durham/Chapel Hill area of N.C., and are often on the lookout for folks to knit with, so email if you would like to join us some time. Beginners are more than welcome.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Dr. Fibersmart's Endorsement for President

Watching the NH primaries this evening moves me to make an endorsement.

As though this were necessary. As though it weren't obvious.

Nevertheless (drum roll) I endorse the effervescent, ineffable Barack Obama.

This man is the man.

Or at least he should be, come November.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

On Knitting in Japan

Japan was a riot. A land of ironies and contradictions. I f*ing loved it. I'm homesick for Japan.

For instance, I've never seen such excellent yarn stores (Yuzawaya, Okadaya), yet I never saw anyone knitting. Ever. Not once. And when C. and I would pull our knitting out in public, folks would stare at us like we were insane. Granted, as gaijin,* we got stared at anyway, but apparently only obasan** knit in Japan. So we started rebelling, knitting in the strangest places we could think of. On the train, for example. You're not supposed to do anything on the train except whisper and send text messages.

Another thing--sex and sexuality erupt publicly in entirely different ways there. Here's a sign I often saw on the train--advertising porn. Like it's no big thing:

And here's a sign indicating that this train car is designated for women only during rush hour because of the problem of men who a**-grab on crowded trains. (Read more about that on C.'s Japan blog here.):

And everyone obeys signs. There's a sign for everything. People even line up to board the trains, following these painted stripes on the ground:

When I came back, everything seemed loud and large. Large (cars, furniture, houses) and loud (people's voices, mostly). I'm in a permanent state of annoyance. I don't leave the house.

For some FOs from Japan, go to this earlier post.

**old ladies

Who Looks Good In This Sh*t?

Here's the Twinkle Evening Shell I knitted on New Year's eve and wore that night:

I worked hard to make the thing fit right, and followed the pattern exactly (something I never do). I used this scrumptious yarn (Cascade Magnum).

And yet I look like Barney.

I don't think it's possible to look good in Twinkle's designs unless you're built like a stick insect. I love the book, I love the pictures. It'll look nice on the coffee table, but I sure as hell won't be knitting out of it again. (Except maybe that deconstructed mohair shrug. That's sexy.)

So now I'm stuck with three huge skeins of Cascade Magnum in this great orangey-brown color that I will not be using to make the Twinkle Hoodie. What's a girl to do?

Serendipity strikes. I stumble upon my new fav knitting blog, and another soul mate who doesn't know it yet, John Brinegar at Yarn Ball Boogie. He knitted a simple, oversized, scrumptious seed-stitch scarf with bulky yarn. [Here.] I'm making one too:

Perhaps you'll think it's a waste of this fancy yarn. But I don't. I can't wait to wrap myself in a blanket disguised as a scarf.

An Observation

I've been browsing other fiber blogs lately and one thing I've noticed is the high quality of photography some of these people produce. I got to thinking.

I have a really nice camera, and a tripod. I used to be a photographer, you know, for money. I really need to stop having my husband take snapshots and figure out a more aesthetically pleasing photography situation over here.

I'm wondering about my hangup about showing my face in blogland, too. Anonymity is fun, but the pictures look weird when I'm so headless.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


[Updated 1-2-2008]

Soft yarn and eyelets. Yummy. Or should I say, Buffy.

Yarn selection, including color, is the most important element of the Buffy scarf.

The yarn-over eyelet pattern is simple. The thick yarn and large needles means it goes really fast. But you really need to think about your yarn and colors.

There are two color theories that I subscribe to: the bright-neutral theory, and the pretty-ugly theory. Miss Buffy employs both.

The bright-neutral theory holds that a bright yarn must be mixed with a neutral yarn for balance. The pretty-ugly theory holds a similarly. Although, with this particular yarn selection, it's arguable which yarn--the drab green or hot pink--is the "ugly."

The Yarn:
1. Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in lilac pink, 1 skein.
2. Paton's Classic Wool Merino in dark green, 1 skein.
3. Cascade Bollice Etoile mohair blend in hot pink, 1 skein. (I've been adding mohair to everything, lately.)

US size 11, 8.0mm


Work holding all three skeins together. c/o 17 stitches. Work first 3 rows in seed stitch. Begin eyelet pattern as follows:

R1: k1, p1, Knit to 2 sts from end, p1, k1.

R2 and all WS rows: Purl.

R3: k1, p1, [k2tog, yo, k2], rep (but last rep will have only 1 k st), p1, k1.

R5: k1, p1, Knit to 2 sts from end, p1, k1.

R7: k1, p1, [k2, ssk, yo], rep, k3, p1, k1.

A Close-up image of the eyelet pattern:

Buffy can be super-warm:

And sooo pretty-ugly!