24 August 2012

Bootkicked, the Bad Noro

Back in the autumn of 2008, I came up with a scarf pattern I named Bootkicked.
It all started with a bad, bad skein of yarn. I am not the person who purchased the bad skein. No, that was Woofgang Pug. She fell in with a bad skein of Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn. Remember when we were all smitten by Noro Sock? The colors were lovely, and it knit up in the mysterious long gradual color changes we adore in Noro. Except this skein. Woofgang Pug started with a toe-up sock. The toe was green, then the foot was black. And there was an intriguing midnight blue that was supposed to be in there. Woofgang Pug kept knitting, but the yarn stopped changing. She was nearly to the heel turn, but still, the yarn was black. Where was the blue?

You've probably guessed this was a "norotorious" skein. Yes, we all love the beautiful colors of Noro yarn. But we also hate the way Noro all too often has knots or joins with breaks in the colors. This was one of those bad skeins. This is also a yarn that is not springy like most sock yarns. It was early October and we were at a knitting gathering to welcome Benjamin Levisay and Rick Mondragon at Whit Robbins' home. (This was during the run-up to the very first STITCHES South.) Woofgang Pug talked about how she had just fallen head over heels for Opal sock yarn and how she was regretting her relationship with Noro. And finally we all came to the consensus that life is too short to knit with yarn you hate. So we had an intervention, and the bad Noro came home with me. (At Christmastime, Rare Purls in Duluth helped me secretly send a skein of Opal Harry Potter Dumbledore to Woofgang Pug. She gave one, she got one better.)

I thought about this skein that had treated a friend so shabbily. And I knew lots of people were not knitting this yarn into socks. So I designed a scarf that would make the skein look as if it had been flogged. Bad skein. No more being mean to knitters. To summarize Nancy Sinatra: These boots were made for walking and they're going to walk all over you.

My inspiration came from a couple Lucy Neatby patterns I had purchased that summer. The Spindrift Scarf uses holes to create a very open and lacy fabric. It would be a great pattern for a skein of yarn that is a little short, as all those slits cause the fabric to open and cover more area. The Sea Lettuce Scarf uses picots to create an intriguing ragged edge. Combining those elements created a finished fabric that looked flogged and distressed. There were also lots and lots of people working short-row scarves with alternating triangles. I wondered what would happen if you "made a mistake" and knit straight between the triangles? It turns out the resulting shape hangs with a slight ruffle that is quite feminine and pleasing.

By the way, the skein did get back at me. This bad boy was short! I ended up running out near the end and swapped with archamanda on Ravelry to get what I needed to finish. Yes, he was a bad skein indeed -- inconsistent colors and only 90g instead of 100g.

After I finished the scarf I found an afternoon and went up on Kennesaw Mountain to take pictures. I had planned to send the pattern to Knitty. But then after I took many, many photographs, I checked Knitty's submission rules and discovered the requirement you had to have pictures of the item being worn. Eventually the Cuddly Hubby and I found a day to take pictures. But the whole thing just sort of fell by the wayside. Sometimes a project gets snake bit, and this one got snake bit on the back end.
In the intervening nearly four years, I've come back to this project off and on. I wrote out the pattern. I cast on with a different yarn -- leftover Crystal Palace Mini Mochi (another norotorious yarn, but at least it wet-splices) from the Curlique Shawl. I messed up and put it in time out. Life went on. This summer, I finally picked Bootkicked #2 up off the piano. (Yes, time-out knitting sits on my piano.) It was time to finish. I ripped back my mistake. I pulled out my notes. I reprinted my directions. I rediscovered what I had done. And off I went, confidently. I even recorded five videos of how to work particular maneuvers in this scarf. And so, I now offer Bootkicked as my very first for sale self-published Ravelry download.

Edited 12 January 2014 to add:
Thank you to Brenda Morison for finding a couple mistakes in version 1.0. If you purchased the pattern on Ravelry, you should be able to download version 1.1. If you purchased a paper pattern -- perhaps at Georgia Alpaca Fiber Fest 2012 -- then here are the errata:
Beginning Triangle:
Row 63: mp, inc, k1, (mh, k2) 4 times, k1. 17 sts total — 2 sts + yo + 3 sts + yo + 3 sts + yo + 3 sts + yo + 2 sts.
Square:
Rows 73 - 78 (same as 65-70): mp, k32. 33 sts total.
Row 79: mp, k1, (mh, k2) 3 times, mh, k1. 17 sts total — 2 sts + yo + 3 sts + yo + 3 sts + yo + 3 sts + yo + 2 sts.

Upcoming: the video tutorials.

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