Lengthwise knitted scarf for beginners

Well, it's a good job that this is not usually a knitting only blog, as you're probably getting a good idea of how slow my knitting pace is now. Here's a scarf that I knitted for my son, as it was about time I made something for him (the blanket isn't going to be finished any time soon...).
Every time I knit a scarf, I tend to spend a couple of evenings just knitting / crocheting several inches, not liking it, unravelling it, knitting / crocheting another pattern, unravelling it and so on. So I thought I'd share with you what I have learnt while experimenting endlessly on which stitch I wanted to use for a scarf:
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Knitting is far easier to unravel than crochet.
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And that's about the extent of my knitting / crochet wisdom.
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My problem is that I like scarves to be soft yet not roll at the edges too much - especially if they are for a lad. I also like scarves to be pretty solid (not holey) if they are for a lad, too. Solid crochet and plain garter stitch don't roll, but they also feel a bit too solid and unyielding. The stockinette and ribbed style scarves feel much softer around the neck - but roll a lot and end up looking a tad too narrow for a bloke.
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So after a couple of evenings of unravelling experiments, I finally had an unoriginal idea, which about 10 minutes of Internet searching would have probably produced (with far less swearing involved), but still... The solution to my problem was to knit in garter stitch lengthwise on circular needles. Genius! Or it would be if no one else had ever thought of such an obvious and simple thing before.
Still, if you're like me, and haven't thought to look up scarf patterns on the 'net, here's how to do it:
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The yarn I used was classified as 5: bulky and two 3oz (85g) balls of 135yds (123m) were needed to knit this 60 inch long 5 inch wide scarf. I used size 10 (6mm) circular needles.
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1. Knit a swatch of about 50 stitches using your chosen yarn, for a few rows (disclaimer: I didn't do this. Yes, you know that someone who will sit knitting, then unravelling, then knitting and unravelling again for a couple of evenings would never actually do something as sensible as knit a swatch. But you can still learn from my first failed attempt at guessing how many stitches to cast on...).
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2. Decide how long you wish your scarf to be. I chose approximately 60 inches. Measure the width of your swatch of 50 stitches. Divide 50 by the width, then multiply that number by the length you wish your scarf to be. The resulting figure will tell you approximately how many stitches you will need to cast on to achieve a scarf of that length.
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eg. a swatch 50 stitches wide of my yarn is about 13.5inches wide. 50/13.5=3.7
I want my scarf to be about 60 inches long so 3.7 x 60=222
So I cast on 220 stitches, as that was near enough.
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3. This would be a perfect scarf for a beginner, as all you do is cast on the number of stitches found in step 2 (220 in my case) onto your circular needles (those knitting needles that are joined by a cable to each other). Knit garter stitch (ie. knit every row) until your scarf is the desired width. Cast off loosely. Done.
Very unoriginal. Don't forget you can make stripes by changing yarn colours as you go (just tell me when you want me to stop stating the obvious...).
I've been doing some other knitting, too, but I'm not sure what this will be yet. I want to felt it, but first I have to try and identify where all the ink that ended up on my last load of laundry came from. Yep, a whole load of clothes ruined and I can't find the culprit (a pen?) anywhere. For once the kids might have learned a few naughty words from me instead of their dad - I wasn't a happy bunny. There goes my chances of winning Homemaker of the Year award AND Mother of the Year award, all in one fell swoop...
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Ok, translation of the day:
UK English: bloke = a fellow, a man in US English.
UK English: bird = a chick, a woman in US English. As in, a lad would refer to an attractive woman in a bar as a 'bird', maybe call his girlfriend 'a bird', but would be unlikely to call his old maiden aunt a 'bird'.
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I can't think of the female equivalent to 'bloke' - pretty much all terms for a member of the female sex seem to refer either to a girl's attractiveness or feistiness. There doesn't seem to be a slang term for just a random member of the female sex. Probably the nearest I can think of is the Australian term 'Sheila' - or maybe 'lass', although that's usually used for younger women. hmm.
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Hopefully it won't be as long before I blog next. My husband was off work last week and hogging the computer... Take care, all.

Out of sorts

The poor trees just don't know what to do. After just a couple of weeks of cool and damp weather (finally!) the temperature around here is back up to 87 degrees. Some of trees had only just decided to drop their leaves, yet others are out in blossom already. If it wasn't for the odd glimpse of snow on the mountains in the distance, winter would apparently be forgotten.
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I'm blaming the temperature increase on these:
I finished a pair of fingerless mittens (Those Mitts pattern found here). Admittedly, California's lack of a winter means that they will not be seeing much daylight, but I still wanted a pair - for knitting and crocheting indoors. Our house is usually a darn sight cooler than the outdoors and my body is under the impression that I am in my 80s, so I even get swollen knuckles and aching joints here in this warmth.
I used the sewn bind off, to make it a wee bit stretchier around the fingers. I think I put the increases for the thumb in the wrong place. We've already established that I'm a slow knitter, so you know that I didn't finish a pair in an evening, like others always seem to, but at least I've finally finished something this year.
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I've been feeling really listless. It's not that I'm lacking inspiration, as I have lots of ideas running through my mind. And yes, I have been busy trying to catch up on things, like getting the computer back up and running, the hundreds of e-mails in my inbox, and also clearing out cupboards etc. And my husband has finally got a shift that gives him evenings off, which has some advantages, but has robbed me of the time I previously set aside for crafting: the evenings that I was alone after the kids went to bed. But even so, I need to stop moping and get motivated again.
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Translation of the day:
UK English: Sod all = slang term for 'nothing' in US English. As in, I feel like I have accomplished sod all since New Year's.

Round up

The twelve days of Christmas are not quite up yet, even if we're into 2009 already. So, now that I've finally found the disk with the photo uploading software on, here's some pictures of a few more of the presents that I made (as I don't have much else to show you...). Half of the photos (ok, pretty much all of the photos) were taken in a rush on Christmas Eve...
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Fabric dollhouse made for my friend to give to her daughter (as I have to bribe people to be friends with me...). She picked this sweet gingham fabric:
Procrastination meant that the teacher gifts ended up being the same idea as last year - the clutch from Bend the Rules Sewing (by Amy Karol), with a wee box of English sweets (candies) tucked inside.
Here's the linings: Some pencil rolls for my American nieces, to go with their presents. Made the same way as the lazy crayon rolls, with a few adjustments for size (the pockets were 3/4" wide). Blanket #3, for the nephew to be born in March. I'll unpick the blue / brown border if it turns out that the ultrasound was wrong...
Finally, the apron, that I mentioned, for my niece. Same fabrics as the last one, but with different straps.It almost looks like I've been productive when you put them all together like that.
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Christmas went well. I always get homesick at this time of year, so if I can't go home to England, the next best thing is having English visitors at Christmas. For one, I don't have to eat the Christmas cake all by myself, although that is a sacrifice I'm willing to make... My parents actively work with me to keep my old traditions alive, though, while my husband's attitude veers closer to, well, a general tolerance but I think he's rolling his eyes when I'm not looking.
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Having said that, we ended up in the ER from 2am to 8am on Christmas morning (nothing serious, luckily), which scuppered our Christmas Day plans, somewhat. Still, we got home in time for the kids to open their presents, then disappeared so my parents could get some sleep. Christmas dinner, while a tad late, was absolutely scrumptious (yes, mum was in charge). The family party was pushed back to Boxing Day, but went well.
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What with the news about Diego, I guess you could say that Christmas this year was the definition of bittersweet. I have a lot to be thankful for in my life.
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Translation of the day:
UK English: (verb) scupper = to prevent from happening / succeeding, to ruin or wreck (it's from nautical terminology) in US English
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If you were wondering about Boxing Day, that's just the day after Christmas, which is a holiday in the UK.
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Take care. I hope that 2009 is a great year for you all.