Scribble Lace Stripes

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.

Left over fine mohair and Colinette Point Five

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.

National Craft Month Fridays!

craft monthMarch is National Craft Month, and in celebration of it, I’ll be bringing you a post every Friday for the next four weeks with a project and the skinny on how to make it.

Every project will involve yarn, delving into different ways to play with it. I love to knit, but I also love other crafts, so let’s see what else our fingers can do! Let’s get multi-craftual!

1 row stripesSingle Row Stripes

My November post included a mini-tutorial on working single row stripes and carrying yarns in the round. As with that project, our hands won’t be doing anything but knitting, though the end result will definitely have purls on it. It’s a good lesson in separating the fabric you want to make (product) from the process of making it (circular, in the round, knits, purls, etc).

Our end result is the fabric at right: single row stripes in two colors, nothin’ but knits. So how do we make it?

Grab two colors of yarn, an A and B, and double-ended (read: circular or double-pointed) needles two or three sizes larger than the yarn requires. With A, cast on for the scarf below or for a swatch of 12 to 20 stitches, depending on the yarn weight you’re using and how much you want to practice. I used the long-tail cast-on, but any cast-on will do (see 1 below).

1 row stripes_1

Turn the work, join B and knit 1 row. As you can see in (2), I don’t do anything special to join, just begin using the new yarn. At the end of this row (3), the working yarns for each color should be at opposite ends. Now: we’re alternating colors every row, so where is the working yarn you need to use next? At the other end of the double-ended needle! SLIDE the stitches to the other end where it—the A working yarn—is hanging (4). With A, knit 1 row.

1 row stripes_2

*Now both yarns are at the same end. At this point, you could just pick up the yarn you need to use next and knit. Or you could bring the one you need up and around the discard, then take it to the back to knit. If you are consistent about how you handle the yarns at the edge, the end result will be visually regular, and the eye will just go right over it.

For this scarf, I handled the edge a little differently. When the two yarns are on the same end, hold both together to work the first stitch (7-8) only; after the first stitch, drop the discard (A, in this case) and continue with the needed yarn to the end of the row (9-10). SLIDE the stitches to get to where the yarn needed next is waiting, knit the two strands of the first stitch as one (11), and knit to the end of the row. Turn, repeat from *. Holding the yarns together for the first stitch makes a nice little picot-y bobble-y thing along the side edges that I liked.

Now: what have you actually done here? How come you have alternating ridges of knit and purl stitches, a.k.a. two rows of stockinette alternating with two rows of reverse stockinette, a.k.a. welting? Call one side the RS and the other the WS: sliding every other row means you work on that side twice, then the other side twice. So: knit two rows with RS facing makes stockinette on the RS; turn the work, and knit two rows with WS facing makes reverse stockinette (purls) on the RS. Voilà!

Single-Row Stripes Super-Long Scarf

1 row scarf

4-1/2˝ x 8-1/2 ft [11.5 x 2.54 m]


125 yds each of 2 colors #5 bulky wt yarn
I used Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky, colors M65 Sapphire (A) and M120 Limeade (B)

US 15 [10mm] double-ended needles, either dpns or 24″ circular needles


With A, cast on 12 sts; turn work. Join B, knit 1 row. Slide stitches to other end of needle where A is hanging. With A, knit. Turn work. Both A & B are on this end.

Row 1: Holding A & B together, knit the first stitch; drop A and continue knitting across row with B.
Row 2: Slide stitches back along cord to other point; with A, knit. Turn work.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until A is almost gone and/or about 5 scarf widths of B remain, ending on a Row 1. Turn; with B, bind off.



November?!? and a circular stripes tutorial

Power Purls interview
Kara Gott Warner’s Power Purls Podcast made its debut this fall. She and I had a wonderfully philosophical and digressive (but eventually returning to topic!) conversation about life and working in the fiber arts industry.

Gosh, can’t believe it’s been over two months since I last posted! Seems like just yesterday I was getting home from STITCHES MidWest, and preparing The Small Man for the start of another school year.

Since then I’ve been to Irving, TX to teach at the first-time-ever STITCHES Texas, worked on a pattern and a couple of articles which you’ll see next year in Creative Knitting Magazine, gotten back into the swing of tech editing, and also worked on some pattern layouts for a client. There were proposals for teaching at TNNA, the wholesale trade show for the needlecraft industry. And the death of my iMac’s hard drive had to be dealt with (once you are used to the THPACE of a 27-inch monitor, it’s hard to go back to a little tiny laptop screen!). Oh, and I was on a podcast. :-)

Busy busy busy.Ig_photo

In the interest of clearing some THPACE around me physically, I’ve been working on turning the stepouts from Colorwork Without the Work into Finished Objects. One of those stepouts is a hat in four-color one-round stripes. I posted a picture of my progress on it to Instagram and on the Beth Whiteside Design Facebook page one day last week.

There wasn’t time to go into detail on carrying this many colors in the round in the video class, so I thought I’d take some time in a blog post to talk about the mechanics.

Let me know if you have questions!




Working Left to Right

In honor of International Lefthanders Day, I thought I’d talk a little bit about knitting in the other direction, aka old stitches come off the right needle and new ones are formed on the left needle.

At STITCHES Midwest, I taught two Market Sessions I haven’t taught in a while: Continental Knitting and Knitting In Both Directions. The combination started me thinking about general working methods (i.e., how each of us holds yarn, needles, fabric) and the nomenclature we use to refer to the process of making loops with needles.

Working in Both DirectionsThe photo shows my current project, a two-row stripe shadow knittng scarf/cowl/shawlette thing. Notice the yarn coming out of the stitch on the left needle instead of one on the right needle? I’ve been working right-side rows from right to left, and wrong side rows left to right, never turning my work to the wrong side (except early on, when I did forget which way to insert the needle/wrap, and had to check what it looked like from the wrong side!).

It’s a perfect pattern for practicing working left to right, with no increases or decreases on the wrong side rows. Instructions are in chart form: since charts represent fabric on the right side, I can easily read what to do on my fabric. Without a chart, I’d have to read the instructions backwards. Imagine reading knitterese backwards in order to make your fabric: go ahead, look at your latest project’s instructions, and imagine having to transmogrify them so you could the same fabric.

My brain’s response: blrrgggchh.

And this is the sort of thing lefties put up with every day, in all parts of their lives, not just their knitting! I’m sure it gets easier with practice; based on observing how y’all interact with the world, it has to. I hope. For your sakes.

So today, I raise a glass to all the lefties in the world:

Cheers! You’re amazing!