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Debbie Does Laundry

You might think I haven't written much lately, and you'd be wrong! I wrote an entire script for a musical, hence I had less time to update my blog. But, as luck would have it, the musical has inspired this latest post.

We're doing the Cinderella story, calling it The Shoe Must Go On. And I figured that if the Stepmother is so keen to hand out weird names based on proximity (she's called Cinderella because she spends so much time in the cinders), perhaps she does that to all her daughters, yielding such character names as Pine Tree Petra, Zero Interest Zinnia, and of course Dryer Lint Debbie.

Good old Debbie collects dryer lint, you see, spins it, and turns it into knitwear. The moment I wrote this, I knew I had to be the lucky fellow who got to create Debbie's accessories. The challenge: to create a scarf that looks like it's been made out of dryer lint.

I found a pattern I quite liked—it was lumpy and bumpy (and purple, but that was easily changed)—but it wasn't downloadable:

So I wrote to the Ravelry forum, asking for help on a downloadable hideous scarf pattern (i.e. a pattern for a hideous scarf, not a hideous pattern for a scarf). I learned a few new terms that I hadn't encountered before: potato chip, and scribble!

Potato Chip scarves are (as the example above) extra ruffly and spiraled. There are about 30 patterns for them on Ravelry. But unless you make them super-extra-ruffly they actually look quite nice! Not quite right for Dryer Lint Debbie.

Scribble knitting (or Scribble Lace) was invented by Debbie New, who combined radically different weights (say, lace and chunky) for a whole new look (no pun intended). She wrote the book Unexpected Knitting, which contains this new concept and others. An interesting concept, but looks less like dryer lint and more like knitting up the odds and ends you sweep up after a long day at the garment factory:

I did come to realize that large yarn ... maybe very large yarn ... would give me the best result (and after all, it's for a costume, not a real person's wardrobe), and would read best from the audience's point of view. So limiting for super-extra-jumbo-sized yarn, I stumbled across this beauty: the Mega TJ, by Taiga Hilliard Designs. Perfect!

All I needed was the yarn to go with it, and lucky for me Michaels had it ... but they were down to their final skein at my local store. Hey, my lucky streak continued: 'cause Michaels has a service where you can order from the comfort of your computer, and they'll grab it off the shelf and keep it at the front for you—perfect for when you can't get to the store for three more hours! The winning yarn was Bernat Blanket Big. I chose the "Pale Grey" colourway as seeming the most like dryer lint.

That evening, I began to knit. It went quickly.

The pattern relies on a technique I hadn't done before which creates long strands of yarn between rows of stitches. I found the pattern instructions confusing, and ended up with long loops of yarn. I was knitting, yarnovering a bunch of times, knitting, yarnovering a bunch of times (etc.) and setting the yarnovers free on the return. Since the knit stitches were attached to the prior row's knit stitches, the extra yarnovers just spilled out like yarny intestines. Not quite right.

I was supposed to stick the needle in the loop as if to knit, and then wrap the yarn around, and then wrap it again, and again ... and then finish the knit action, pulling it through and dropping the stitch. When you do that, you end up with the long lengths of yarn in between rows. So the bottom portion of my scarf is extra-lumpy and loopy, and my middle more streamlined. In other words, the part that shows the most is super-hideous, which is great for the costume. Three cheers for not-understanding-instructions and happy accidents!

Here's the result:

And a close-up of how very dryer-linty it really seems:

I can barely look at it without sneezing.

Off the Needles:

Sling Heel Socks

Caldwell Vest

On the Needles (and actively being worked on):

Buster (Stuffie, my second, for my oldest nephew this time)

Shard Scarf (just gettin' started)

Itineris Shawl (about five rows left!)

On the Backburner:

Another 1898 hat (it's just such good airplane knitting, I had to do it again. I've finished the band, and misplaced it)

The second Sophie's Universe blanket (Round 50)

A swatch of stockinette in white worsted (third of three needle sizes) for my Master Knitting Course

Persian Dreams Blanket (round 6 of Hexagon 9)

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