Connections: A Red Scarf
The Red Scarf Project, endorsed by Interweave Press and The National NeedleArts Association, was started in 2005 by the Orphan Foundation of America
as a way of showing community support and encouragement to
college-bound teens in foster care. In 2007, I was asked if I would
design a Red Scarf pattern for Interweave to sponsor during that year's campaign, and of course, I said yes.
Designing a scarf, a scarf that hasn't been Done Before, especially
a scarf for the Red Scarf Project, wasn't as easy as I thought it would
be. It had to be narrow, long, look good on both sides, be wearable by
both men and women, not too complicated to knit, and, oh yes: be red. [Sandi's update: They don't have to be red any longer--any unisex color is OK.]
So, how does one go about designing something with such strict parameters?
As I always do when I am designing things, I started with a story
idea. I know that sounds a bit odd, but I am a storyteller, and I tell
stories with stitches as well as with words. Knitters have a rich
tradition of telling stories through stitches--look at the wonderfully
evocative names we give to cable and lace patterns: Hollow Oak, Wings
of the Swan, Homes of Donegal, Dragon Skin. The language of textiles
has become a metaphor for storytelling: a well-told tale is even called
I thought of those foster teens who will be wearing all the scarves
we knit for them. I thought of how, someday, one of those teens might
be my kids' teacher, or perhaps even marry into my family. Those teens
are not really without family: in a very real way, they are my future family.
Easier Twisted Rib version
Hence my cabled scarf, called Connections,
where the stitches and patterns weave in and out, at times touching,
and at times moving apart. Families are like that: we move in and out
of each other's lives, but we stay connected, and our shared
connections form a larger, stronger, whole.
Note that if you don't want to do cables, there's also a version
that is cable-free--simply work the columns of twisted ribs the entire
length of the scarf. However: The cables here are not hard, and if you
have never tried cables, or think they are too difficult, then this
scarf is a good place to start. How do I know that these cables aren't
too hard? Because this is my first cable-knitting project. Ever.
I figured that anything worth doing, is worth doing for family.
For more information about how to donate your scarf, and the foster kids who will receive the scarves, visit www.orphan.org.
Want more scarf pattern ideas? If the cabled scarf above doesn't grab you, there are plenty more scarves--from the playful to the classic--in our wonderful book Scarf Style. Many of these can be adapted for charity knitting, simply by changing the colors or the length...or maybe you'll find a gift inside for that hard-to-please someone on your holiday list. (You never know. I'll cross my fingers for you.) Buy a copy of Scarf Style.
Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.
What's on Sandi's needles? I'm trying to finish up the Camisa so I can wear it!