First off, I found this pattern for knitted poppies, so of course, I made two! Pretty nifty and quick little pattern! If you would normally get a plastic poppy and leave a donation for the Legion, it would be nice to leave a donation while you wear your knitted poppy!
Second, I have a veteran friend who asked me to knit a scarf using the stripes of one of his service medals! I love this idea! I finished the scarf yesterday and he got it today — just in time for him to wear it… nowhere. Or to a virtual Remembrance Day service he attends in his pajamas. Anyways. If you know a soldier or veteran and have seen them wearing their service medals, why not ask them if they’d like a scarf custom-knit just for them in the colours of one of their medals?
Service Award Scarf
This isn’t a pattern as much as just some helpful tips on how I made my scarf. I used a circular needle that measures 32 inches from tip to tip and that made a fairly long scarf. The stitches were quite jammed up on the needle, so if you also want a nice long scarf, 32 inches is the minimum length for the needle, I’d say.
Yarn: I ordered Drops Nepal from a yarn store online because I didn’t have all the colours I needed. It’s 65% wool 35% alpaca and made a nice, basic scarf. You might have all the yarn you need in your stash — great! If you can match yarns, great. I had to use a different yarn for the center stripe, but the colour was so perfect, I decided to go with it. If you can use all the same fibre content, great. But honestly, it’s a scarf so you don’t need to get too fussy. Just make sure it won’t be itchy!
Needles: I used 5.5 mm needles with this yarn (on a 32″ long circular needle as I said). Obviously, you can scale this up/down depending on your yarn and if you’re a tight/loose knitter.
If you are a beginner knitter, you might think this scarf is knit across the short dimension like all beginner scarves. This is not the case. It’s waaaay easier to knit this using long rows, so that your colour changes are far less frequent. If you are an advanced knitter looking for a challenge (and not in a hurry), you know what to do. You may be thinking, this won’t slow me down much, but you have forgotten about the untangling! I will proceed to give directions to the beginners/sane people out there.
Let me say as a short sidebar that I considered doing some sort of complex, multi-coloured double knit scarf. It would have been so beautiful! But the colour changes and likelihood of getting severely tangled up scared me off. I tried a sample of it and gave up! It just seemed unnecessarily complicated. But, if you are up for it, you could double knit, or knit in the round and then tack it down (sew it) to keep it flat. Or, like me, you could just *K* until finished! Garter stitch for the win!
Instructions: Cast on enough stitches to fill the needle and/or make you think it is way too many. Then cast on another 20 or so stitches. That should be about the right amount. If you like, you can do a gauge swatch and then some math, but I just filled the circular needle. I didn’t even COUNT the stitches! (What a rebel.) I know it was over a hundred. I decided to use the Chinese Waitress Cast on which proves I’m not lazy, just easy going! (Here’s a good tutorial, by Stacey at Very Pink Knits.) This cast on makes a very nice, structured edge which I could have taken a picture of, except that navy blue is a very difficult colour to photograph!
For the scarf I made, which is the British military medal for service in the South Atlantic (post WWII), I decided to do 5 garter ridges of navy, 3 ridges of bright blue, 4 ridges of white, 6 ridges of green and so on in reverse. This made my scarf 30 ridges wide (60 rows of knitting). As long as you always change colours when the tail of yarn that you began with is at the top, your stripes will be consistent; there will be a right side and wrong side of the scarf, but even the wrong side with it’s dashed lines of colour looks okay (peeking out from under the right side in the photo below).
It is worth a mock up if you aren’t sure how wide to make the stripes. Some medals have several stripes, so you’ll want to see how to knit them up and keep the scarf a “good scarf width.” Just cast on 10 or so stitches and start knitting stripes. The absolute width of each stripe is not important; it just needs to look proportional. Your scarf might be narrower or wider and that’s okay! (Don’t ask me how wide mine turned out; I forgot to measure it before gifting it! It’s a “good scarf width!”)
My veteran friend told me that the black and white service medal on the right (on photo above) is for long service and good conduct. Most other medals are for service on certain campaigns/wars. Ask your soldier/veteran friend to explain this to you! And as I said before, I think it’s best to ask your friend which one they would like in a scarf, or if they would even like a scarf at all! Some vets might not want to be reminded… others might have an award for conspicuous bravery and that is probably the one that should be knitted into a scarf!
When you have reached the end of your scarf, which is the width, to be clear, you are done! I did an Icelandic cast off (Very Pink Knits video here), which is a bit slower than a basic CO, but it makes a nice, ornamental edge perfect for a scarf. It took FOREVER! (I think my scarf was actually closer to 200 sts long, but it felt like a thousand.)
But heck, when you’re knitting for someone who put their life on the line for your freedom… I think you can spend a little more time on the cast-off, eh!? 😉
Take care, everyone! Have a great day and happy knitting!