Pattern updated from v. 1.2 to 1.3 on 2010-02-05 to fix chart issue in WS edging symbols, and add a link to a no-purl mod for the scarf.

Pattern updated from v. 1.1 to v. 1.2 on 2008-12-02: Please note that because of a modification to the chart symbols, the pattern is now only available as a PDF download via Ravelry (you do not need to have a login to download the pattern). The instructions are more or less the same as before, but I’ve modified a few things in the pattern writeup that people were finding confusing: among other things, I changed the chart to use standard symbols instead of the ambiguous “k” and “p,” started the pattern on a RS row instead of a WS row, and included the i-cord edging instructions in the main part of the pattern. Please let me know if you find any problems and I’ll fix them in the next revision. Happy knitting!

Ravelry page /Ravelry PDF download (this is a clean, printable version of this pattern, with most of the pictures taken out).

This scarf uses an unvented stitch pattern based on Barbara Walker‘s Woven Diagonal Herringbone stitch pattern from A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

I wanted to find a scarf pattern other than the ubiquitous My So-Called Scarf or Clapotis that would show off a variegated yarn nicely. Nothing wrong with MSCS (well, it’s not really reversible, and I’ve heard from some people that it curls) or the Clap (well, since it’s knit on the bias, it’s hard to estimate exactly how much yarn you need to finish and knit until you run out of yarn; also, it’s not warm unless you make it big enough to counteract the open dropped stitches). Anyway, I just wanted something different!

When I was back at home for Thanksgiving 2007, my mom bought me two skeins of absolutely gorgeous Manos Silk Blend in Wildflowers.

Once I started to swatch with it I realized that it was hard to find a pattern that would showcase the colors in the yarn –there were so many different colors, the stitch patterns I was trying out kept getting lost, and the yarn just ended up looking like clown barf. (Albeit very expensive clown barf from a clown with a belly full of Necco wafers.) At first, I thought the half-linen stitch would be nice, but after knitting up an entire skein of the yarn in this stitch, I realized that it just curled too much. It looked deceptively flat at first, but the more I knit, the more it curled.

So that was out. I made another scarf’s worth of swatches with different stitch patterns. Even my old standby, feather and fan, looked like crap.

I had been admiring Knitting Kninja’s Dapper Herringbone Scarf pattern using the Woven Diagonal Herringbone stitch–so very dapper!–so I swatched with that, and liked it a lot. Slipping stitches is a good way to deal with variegated yarns because of the way it lengthens color runs and breaks up the sea of blips of color.

I made a couple of little adjustments to suit my taste, though:

  • I wanted a stitch pattern that would lie perfectly flat–the slipped stitches do restrain curling, but after my experience with the half linen stitch mega-swatch, I was feeling very leery of mostly-stockinette patterns and wanted a balanced knit/purl pattern;
  • I wanted a stitch pattern that would still look reversible in a busy yarn like the Manos–while Kristen’s version looks perfect in her simple, single color, the reverse side of mine ended up just looking like reverse stockinette stitch, as the diagonal pattern of elongated slipped stitches was lost in the color-barf;
  • I wanted a very clean selvage. Mine was looking kind of wonky.

So I added purl stitches to go behind the slipped stitches, balancing the mostly stockinette fabric, and creating a slipped diagonal rib on the wrong side; and I added a very satisfying and clean knitted-in i-cord selvage.

I’m calling the result the Prismatic Scarf, for the way it refracts the random mixture of hues into strong, slanting rays of color.

100% sheep-approved!

Close-ups of the i-cord selvage:

Here’s a swatch I worked up in‘s 3-ply worsted merino, colorway “Analis”, so you can see the effect in a yarn with fewer colors:

Yarn used: Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend (30% silk, 70% merino wool; 50 grams; 150 yards) in 3113 Wildflowers, two skeins

Needle size: US size 8/5.0 mm

Finished dimensions: 5″ x 65″ before blocking, 5″ x 68″ after blocking