Little Red (mylittleredgirl) wrote,
Little Red

knitting pattern: Mumsey Headscarf

I wrote up a knitting pattern (scroll down for that -- it's the interesting bit) and then I rambled on a whole bunch to show "writing character" and took a bunch of pictures with a bad camera for my interview with The Best Job Ever. It's image-heavy, but it's good Christmas knitting, and pictures of Sis and I posing with flamingos and things!

The Mumsey Headscarf:

Little known fact about my mother: Whenever I ask her what she'd like me to knit her for Christmas, she always wants the exact same thing. Back when my mother was freezing her way through her early twenties in snowy Ontario, her glamorous aunt gave her a white head-and-neckwarmer: a tube worn around the neck which could also be brought up over the head to keep the ears warm and then pulled down around the neck when you come in out of the cold. That headscarf saved my Mumsey from cold weather by letting her always have a "hat" and "scarf" handy for a completely warm noggin. It's a little reminiscent of the stylish head-wraps from the fifties, only for cold weather.

This "glamorous" piece of outerwear never had an actual name (it's been called everything from a balaclava-without-a-face to a thneed*), the name "headscarf" has stuck despite its lack of scarfiness.

*A Thneed's a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!
It's a shirt. It's a sock. It's a glove. It's a hat.
But it has OTHER uses. Yes, far beyond that. -- Dr. Seuss, "The Lorax"

Mumsey still has that original headscarf, though it's too ragged to wear by now, and she has collected quite a few others over the years in an attempt to replace it. A Mumsey Headscarf always has to be white, as simple and classy as possible to give homage to the original headscarf from the glamorous aunt, and of course, it must be warm.

This pattern is knit in the round in stockinette with a cabled border on one or both ends for a little simple class. It knits up quickly and (mostly) mindlessly with a warm alpaca blend to be ready in time for Christmas! (Feel free to experiment with colors. I won't tell the glamorous aunt!)

Skills Used And Degree Of Difficulty:
Knitting in the round (totally non-scary)
Simple cables (moderately non-scary)
Picking up stitches along an edge (slightly more scary, but totally fake-able)
Kitchener Stitch (if it's too scary, you can skip this bit)

Two (2) balls of Plymouth Yarn Co.'s Baby Alpaca Brush in white (80% Baby Alpaca, 20% Acrylic, 50g/110yd)
16" circular needle, US size 9
Cable needle
Yarn needle

The numbers I give you will be based on a gauge of:

17 sts and 22 rows over a 4" square of stockinette stitch

SAVE TIME; TAKE TIME TO CHECK GAUGE! While those scary all-caps found in Every Pattern Book Ever Written are ordinarily good advice, I give you permission to ignore that here. You can measure (with a ruler or with the head of a willing nearby person) and adjust the number of cable repeats in the border to make the headscarf wider or narrower, so it's not essential to match gauge. Yay!

There will be a pattern here eventually, right?

If you'd like the just-the-facts-ma'am, yes-i-know-what-a-C8F-is, secret-knitting-code version of the pattern, scroll to the bottom! If you prefer your patterns to have pictures and, you know, be written in English, read on!

The Mumsey Headscarf begins with a cabled border. Cast on 10 stitches using a long-tail cast-on. Leave a 12" tail.

This is going to be an 8-stitch left cable with one garter selvedge stitch on each side. This means:

First Row (Right Side of fabric): knit across all 10 stitches
Row 2: knit 1, purl 8, knit 1

This creates a panel of eight stockinette stitches (always knit on one side, purled on the other). The two end stitches are always knit, no matter which side of the fabric you're on.

Continue on like that...

Row 3: knit across
Row 4: knit 1, purl 8, knit 1
Row 5 & 6: repeat rows 3 & 4

Then comes a cabling row. You'll knit the first stitch, then slip the next four stitches onto your cable needle. Hold the cable needle to the front of the work while you knit 4 stitches off the regular left-hand needle. Then knit the 4 stitches from your cable needle. Knit the last stitch left on the left-hand needle. Voila! You have twisted all your stitches around and have cabled! (If you've never cabled before and are going "Um... it looks bunchy and weird and not at all glamorous," stick with me! It'll make sense after a few more rows.)

In knitterese, what you just did was:

Row 7: knit 1, slip 4 stitches to cable needle and hold to front, knit 4, knit 4 from cable needle, knit 1.

Now continue like you were before cabling:

Row 8: knit 1, purl 8, knit 1
Row 9-10: repeat rows 3 and 4 above.

Repeat rows 3-10 for pattern (Rows 1 and 2 were just a lead-in. Ignore those from now on).

After a second repeat, your knitting will look like this:

Holy Fuzzy Charts, Batman! There was a bit of a breakdown between Excel and Publisher and Livejournal which yielded something more like an eye chart than a knitting chart. Click the fuzzy chart to open the image in its full-clarity glory:

Continue cabling until you have completed rows 3-10 a total of 14 times, or until your cabled border can comfortably wrap around your head and under your chin. On the last repeat, DO NOT knit row #10, so that you will end at the end of a RS (right side) row.

To join the border into a circle, you will do one of the following:

a) Bind off your stitches and sew cast-on edge to bound-off edge like any normal person would do,


b) Join live stitches to your cast-on edge using some kind of half-Kitchener Stitch, because you think Kitchener Stitch is awesome (It is! It hides seams by mimicking the way that knitting stitches look, and it actually has something to do with Lord Kitchener!). It should be noted that this isn't really Kitchener Stitch, which is done with all live stitches and no bound-off edges, but Kitchener Stitch Devotees will pretend wherever they can.

If you're choosing option b, slide your stitches to the other end of the circular needle. The needle point should be to the right of the stitches and the working yarn to the left, with the right side of the fabric facing you. Join the cast-on edge and the live stitches to make a circle with the right side of the cable on the outside. Be careful NOT to twist your border into a mobius strip.

Kitchener Stitch From A Distance: Or, My Digital Camera Has No Zoom

Using the tail left from your cast-on, thread your yarn needle. Begin sewing the live stitches to the stitches above using kitchener stitch. (See pictures above. A good reference for those learning how to Kitchener Stitch can be found here on, though that one is done with all live stitches, not with a cast-on edge. Kitchener Stitch goes like this: sew through two live stitches (bottom picture), then put your yarn needle around the little V of the existing stitch above the cast-on edge (top picture). Then bring your needle through ONE of the live stitches you've already gone through (the one next to the other, un-sewed stitches) and then the next live stitch. Then wrap it around the next V. And so forth. Once you've sewed through a live stitch, you can pull it off the needle and it won't unravel. Technically, it's no longer live, but we mean that in the least homicidal way possible.)

Leave the last stitch on the needle. Knot the cast-on tail to the working yarn to secure it, or use both yarns together for the next few stitches to secure the cast-on tail.

Picking up stitches for the body:

Arrange the border so the right side is facing out (and facing you). Begin picking up stitches along the edge of the cable by sticking your needle underneath one of the garter selvedge stitches, wrapping the working yarn around your needle as if to knit and pulling the yarn through, resulting in a stitch sitting on your needle. You should pick up a stitch in TWO out of every THREE edge stitches along the cabled border.

Another Beer-Goggled Knitting Chart: Click for Non-Fuzzy Version

And in real life, it should look sort of like:

Hint to tell if you're picking up a stitch in the right place: The 8-panel stockinette cable shouldn't be touched. If it looks like your new stitches are taking bites out of your cable, you're picking up a stitch that's not your edge stitch.

Continue picking up stitches all the way around. You should have approximately 76 stitches at the end. (I say "approximately," because if you're off by a few stitches, it won't matter, as long as the cabled border isn't bunching up anywhere.)


Knit every stitch. I did some depressing math, and you'll be knitting plain ol' stockinette stitch for over 5,000 stitches. On the upside, this is an excellent opportunity to re-watch your first-season X-Files DVDs.

Continue knitting every row until you reach the second season, or your headscarf measures 13 inches.

Bind off LOOSELY. If your bind-offs tend to be tight, use a larger needle size.

Optional Bottom Edge Cable:

Knit a second cable border identical to the first. Sew it to your bind-off edge. Mock Kitchener Stitch isn't necessary for this part.

Pose for a kitschy picture with a plastic flamingo to honor the fifties headscarf inspiration, or give your headscarf to a Mumsey to keep her warm!

Just The Facts, Ma'am: Headscarf Pattern

C8F = cable 8 front. Slip 4 stitches onto cable needle, hold to front, knit 4, knit 4 from cable needle.


Cast on: using a long-tail cast-on, cast on 10 stitches. leave a 12" tail.

Row 1 (RS): knit every stitch
Row 2 (WS): k1, p8, k1
Rows 3-6: repeat rows 1 + 2 for stockinette pattern
Row 7: k1, C8F, k1
Row 8-10: knit in stockinette pattern as set

Repeat (rows 3-10) 13 times more or until border can comfortably fit around head. On last pattern repeat, do not knit row #10, so you are ending at the end of a RS row.

Joining border:

Using the cast-on tail and a mock kitchener stitch, sew live stitches to cast-on edge so cabled border forms a circle. BE CAREFUL NOT TO TWIST. Leave the last live stitch on the circular needle.

Picking Up Stitches:

With right side of border on the outside of the circle, begin picking up stitches along the garter stitch selvedge edge of the border. Pick up a stitch in two out of every three selvedge garter stitches. (76 stitches)


Knit every row in the round until piece measures 13" from bottom edge of border.

Bind off loosely.

Optional: knit a second border cable identical to the first and sew to bind-off edge.

Knitter's Note: This pattern has not been beta-knit by anyone except me. Please alert me to any pattern mistakes you notice!
Tags: knitting

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  • Handmade Holidays

    My sister and I like to do holiday themes, for both decorations (the "The North Pole Threw Up On Our Apartment" theme is particularly memorable) and…

  • not always successful

    Tonight, I tried to make this: Recycled Cup Shrinky-Dink Necklace. It came out looking significantly less awesome than that. Also it's possible…

  • Boiling popsicle sticks isn't normal...

    ... but on craft it is. Mama Red, via telephone, hearing stove vent: "Are you making dinner?" Me: "No, I'm boiling popsicle sticks." Mama: "To…