Back when I first began working in this crazy wonderful world of things to do with string, one of the recently-published books I just HAD to add to my library was Debbie New’s Unexpected Knitting. The title alone was intriguing—so unexpected. When I saw the cover, I immediately bought the book. It contains chapters on topics such as free-form, swirl, sculptural, cellular automaton, ouroborus, and labyrinth knitting.
And there is something called scribble lace. The name alone intrigued—scribble lace. It conjured images of authors and artists thoroughly absorbed in the rush to get their ideas down on paper. How would a knitter scribble ideas down with yarn?? Fascinating.
Scribble lace is actually a simple technique for placing squiggly thick yarn stripes across a diaphanous background of fine weight yarn. It is worked with needles of the size appropriate for the thick yarn. The hardest part is getting used to working the rows between the squiggles with the fine yarn on those fat needles.
I had quite a lot of short-ish lengths of Colinette Point Five (A) left after finishing the Big Blocks Afghan. While rummaging through the lace yarn section of my stash, I found a good bit of an unknown fine mohair (B) that seemed like it would make the perfect background for the stripes. And the pattern below was born. I hope you enjoy it!
About Scribble Lace
For a firm start and finish, the pattern begins and ends with an A row. For the cast-on, A and B are held together to make a temporary slip knot, then separated to work a long-tail cast-on, thereby making the first A and B rows.
When not in use, the A yarn is carried up the side edge. While working Rows 1-6, when A and B are on the same end, work as follows:
When you reach Row 7, both yarns will be at the same end. Leave B hanging, and knit across with A. Row 8 is worked with B. To get to where B is, slide the stitches to the other end of your double-ended needle: voila, you are ready to work the next row, alternating knit and purl stitches.
Why is Row 8 worked in a 1×1 rib pattern? To put the tops of the A loops on both sides of the fabric, alternating across the row. Repeat rows 1-8 until your scarf is long enough (or you are close to running out of yarn, like me!). Work the final row with A, working in rib pattern as you bind off.
As you work with the finer weight yarn, be careful to separate stitches on the left needle. They have a tendency to bunch up and you may think there is one when there is two. I’ve also had them jump in front/behind each other, appearing out of order. Spread the stitches out as they move up on your needle end.
As for combining yarn colors: there are many pleasing combinations! Choose colors to make foreground or background stand out, use similar hues for both A and B, or choose high-contrast brights. Once you get the hang of scribbling, experiment with more or fewer rows between “scribble stripes.” Try varying the relative weight of the yarns used (always use the needle size recommended for the thicker yarn, or even a size larger!). Have fun scribbling!
Scribbling Square Stripes Scarf
- 65 yds #6 (super bulky) wt thick and thin yarn (e.g. Colinette Point Five or Malabrigo Gruesa), A
- 230 yds #2-4 (fine to worsted) wt kid mohair/silk blend (e.g. Rowan Kidsilk Haze, Crystal PalaceKid Merino, Malabrigo Lace), B
- US 15 [10 mm] circular or long double-pointed needle
Holding A and B together, tie a temporary slip knot and put on needle. With A over thumb and B around index finger and using long-tail cast-on, cast on 24 sts, not counting slip knot. At end of first Row 1 below , untie slip knot.
Rows 1-6 with B and carrying A up the side it is on , knit.
Row 7 drop B; with A, knit; drop A.
Row 8 slide stitches to other end of circular needle where B waits, with B [k1, p1] 12 times.
Repeat rows 1-8 to desired scarf length, ending on a Row 6 row. Cut B; with A, work in [k1, p1] patt as you bind off. Fasten off last st.
Weave ends. Stretch scarf to “block” and open up lace. Cut and attach fringe if desired; sample has 9 lengths folded and attached to each end.