As soon as this pattern from the Purl Bee popped up in my mailbox last winter, I just had to cast on for it. I looked high and low for the right yarn for this, something special enough that the simple garter stitch pattern would stand out nicely. At Stitches West, I stumbled upon some lovely shetland yarn at the Terilyn Needleheart booth. The weight was light fingering-weight. The very delicate, barely heathered pink called out to me, and a smart impulse buy followed.
My choice of a contrast color for the pinstripes, however, was anything but smart. I love combinations of pinks and greys, and so I reached for a lovely light grey skein of the same shetland yarn. I set aside the yarns and the pattern for my next trip, and cast on sometime in May, soon after landing in New York for a week's vacation.
My choice of yarn was a bit more substantial than the laceweight model, so it took some frogging before I figured out how many stitches to settle on for the full width of the scarf. I settled on 80, which turned out a bit wide for a scarf.
The only rule of this very simple diagonal project is that the spacing of the pinstripes needs to be random. It is up to the knitter to figure out how to achieve true randomness; Joelle Hoverson, the designer, chose to knit a stripe any time the project had been put away for over seven hours. That was pretty much the system I followed, although I did cheat and added a 15-minute stripe now and then. On the last day of my stay in New York, I took a good look at the project and it all came clear to me -- or should I say, clearly invisible?
The grey was blending only too well into the pink; in recent years, I have been focused on combining colors of similar values or "weights" in most of my projects, and I have become too wary of color contrasts. I forgot that the point of pinstripes is that they stand out in strong contrast to their background. One measly row of garter stitches doesn't allow for subtlety when the knitter's goal is a strong visual impact.
After returning home, I frogged my knitting down to the very first stripe, and this time I went shopping in the old stash. I found a pretty good replacement: an odd skein of alpaca fingering-weight in a dark blue colorway. In no time at all, I had myself a warm, pinstriped pink cloud of a scarf. (The color on the following photos is correct -- forget that salmon-pink above.)
Over on Ravelry, I see that several knitters have modified the stripes in order to make them a bit thicker: two rows instead of one. On the plus side, this means that all color changes take place on the right front side of the work, with less cutting (and subsequent weaving) of yarn. I tried that at first, but I realized that one-row pinstripes have the wonderful advantage of creating a truly reversible scarf, with those subtle blips of color appearing on both sides of the knitted fabric.
The pattern instructions explain in detail how to weave in the tail ends of yarn at each stripe juncture; I happened to visit Purl Soho during my vacation in New York, so of course I had to seek out the store model of the scarf and to examine it scrupulously, tiny snipped ends and all. It looked just fine, handmade in the best way. Sometimes it is okay not to question instructions. Purl Soho, you have earned my trust.