Category Archives: yarn

Tubular, Man!

I bought some great multi-colour self-striping yarn in Spain while I was walking the Camino de Santiago in the spring. It’s Katia’s Bombay which is also available in North America. I only bought two balls since I was travelling light, so I needed a small project to use it.

Katia Bombya without its label

Katia Bombya without its label


While we were in Spain, my husband bought a couple of those light scarves that Spanish men can drape around their necks so casually and with such elan that one suddenly wants to move to Europe to be among such fashion forward people. Alas, that is not to be, but I realized that this brighly coloured, self-striping cotton yarn would make a great flingy scarf, so my project was born.

After looking around I found a lovely scarf pattern called Palindrome with a reversible cable which would fit the bill. On Ravelry the scarf is listed for 1029 projects, and that doesn’t include mine yet. It’s by Kristin Bellehumeur and is a very easy project, which may explain its popularity. And since it’s reversible it really is great to drape around a neck.

I did want the scarf to look good all over so I decided that I would find a tubular cast on to make the ends look good. I have used the Italian Cast-on before and it was perfect for this project, but I also had a little fun making it work for a 2 x 2 rib. Here is the cast on edge of my scarf

Here is the cast on edge of my scarf

The Italian cast on is a 1X1 rib and I needed a 2X2 rib.  The Italian Cast-on is, in essence, a double fabric. By knitting the knit stitches and slipping the purl stitches on either side, one is making the front and back of the fabric. Creating the 2×2 rib also has the effect of returning the double fabric to a single one.

I don’t have a link for this so I photographed the process for you and provide it here in a few simple steps.

This technique can be done with or without a cable needle. I went without because it was one less thing to worry about. [See the note at the end of these illustrations for the cable needle instructions – text only.]

Click on the pictures to enlarge them.
Step 1, Knit the first stitch.First knit stitch
Step 2: Skipping the next purl stitch, put your right hand needle into the next knit stitch as if to purl.Skip the purl pick up the knit
Step 3. Slide both the purl stitch and the knit stitch off the left needle while keeping the knit stitch on the right hand needle – don’t panic.Slip 2 stitches off left needle
Step 4. Let the purl stitch fall to the back then immediately scoop it back up on the left hand needle.Scoop the purl stitch to left needle
Step 5. Put the knit stitch you moved to the right needle back on the left needle, then knit it. Note, in the picture the right needle is in the stitch as if to purl. You’ll have to remove it to knit the stitch in the correct orientation.Slipped knit stitch back on left needle
Step 6. Purl the next stitch (the one you dropped in step 4).
Step 7. Purl the next stitch, then knit the next stitch.

Two knits, two purls, one knit, ready for step two again.

Two knits, two purls, one knit, ready for step two again.

Repeat from step 2.

[Note: If you want to do this with a cable needle for safety reasons (nothing worse than a stitch you can’t pick up), at step 2  you will move the next stitch, a purl, to the cable needle and leave it at the back. Then knit the next stitch on the left needle, and return the purl stitch to the left needle and purl it. Then continue with the next stitches until you are ready to begin at step two again. But don’t you want to live dangerously? This could easily be in the book, A 1000 Dangerous Things To Do Before You Die.]

So that was the beginning  of the scarf. But what about the other end. I wanted the two ends to match, so I had to figure out the process for getting a tubular bind-off, and happily I solved that problem all by myself. Here’s  how. (Sorry, no pictures of the steps here.)

Here you want to get the stitches back to their 1×1 rib double fabric which is how you started. It’s easy really. You just have to reverse the process of slipping and moving stitches, thus creating a tubular fabric again.

Step 1: Knit the first stitch.

Step 2: Place your right hand needle into the second stitch on the left hand needle (a purl stitch).

Step 3: Slide the two stitches off the left hand needle letting the knit stitch fall to the front of the work.

Step 4: Pick up the purl stitch with the left hand needle then pick up the dropped knit stitch with the left hand needle.

Step 5. Purl the next stitch, knit the next stitch, purl the next stitch.

Repeat from Step 2 to end of the row.

To create the double fabric turn the work.

Row 1: Knit the first stitch, slip the next stitch with the yarn in front, repeat to end of row. Turn.

Repeat  Row 1 twice more. (Three times in all as with your cast on edge.)

To cast off in tubular knit you will have to divide your stitches.

Using two needles, slip the knit stitches alternately with the purl stitches to the front and  back needles. When you are finished you will have all the knit stitches on the front needle and all the purl stitches on the back needle. Now all you have to do is graft the sides together using Kitchener stitch. I recommend using the technique espoused by Knitting Daily in a recent post on their blog. It uses a third knitting needle and is easy to follow.

Can you tell which is the cast on and which is the cast off edge? Nope, neither can I.

Can you tell which is the cast on and which is the cast off edge? Nope, neither can I.

So there you have it, my adventure with Katia Bombay yarn, knitting a Palindrome scarf and making it look great from end to end. Here is the scarf flung jauntily, in a very European Je ne sais pas flair around the neck of my husband. Looks great even if the weather outside doesn’t call for cold any time soon.

Geordie looking positively Spanish in his Palindrome scarf.

Geordie looking positively Spanish in his Palindrome scarf.

And here is the scarf coiled seductively as if it were dropped after an evening of cool weather dining outside on some lovely cafe patio in Madrid.The coiled scarf

Go on now, make your own beautiful scarf with a wonderful cast on and cast off, and fling it ’round your neck for some insouciant European flair.