Friday, 4 April 2014

Gentle Dip Knitted Scarf Pattern

'Where the grey light meets the green air' 

This line of poetry comes to mind every spring.  The words are in a short poem called Usk, written by T S Eliot. 
Scroll down within this link to the third one in the Landscapes series.

Though it was unintentional, I suppose March was an apt time to dye yarn grey/green.  The mutable colours that came out of a frozen hollyhock dyebath proved to be pH sensitive.  Playing about with little balls of hand spun Polwarth left over from knitting a shawl, one skein soaked in vinegar and water leached out to palest grey, another soaked in water with dissolved soda ash became a more vivid green. 

The town of Usk happens to have a good garden centre.  I had read this article, which says that in the poem Usk, the line 'The white hart over the white well' actually refers to a pub with a well nearby. Driving home with the boot full of compost and potted plants, we had to wait at some roadworks right beside a White Hart.  Not in Usk, but Llangybni, a little place a couple of miles down the road.

Stopped for a pint - rude not to.  Took a walk down the lane behind the pub and there really was a well.  A moment of slippage, elision.  I have loved that poem and puzzled over it for years.  T S Eliot was here, I am here, here the well is and was, for a thousand years or two. Or maybe the Butty Bach was stronger than I thought. Probably T S Eliot sampled the local brew, certainly he saw the great yew trees round the ancient church that stands where the road rises between the well and The White Hart pub.  The Hermit's Chapel?

The well is not a bore hole, just a stone cover over a pool within a rill.  Looking inside, I saw the ladle. Gently dip, but not too deep - don't stir up the silt.  T S Eliot was inspired to write cryptic verse.  I was inspired to knit a scarf with the shallow curve of a ladle.  The pattern is simply an enlargement of one element used in far more complex forms to make the shawl Thinking of Waves.

Gentle Dip Scarf Pattern


215m fingering weight/ 4ply yarn (20m for the border)
4.5mm circular knitting needle
Darning needle for sewing in ends.

Tension and Size

After washing and blocking, 10cm squared is 16 stitches and 30 rows.
Inner border measures 150cm, deepest measurement is 17.5cm


Using border colour, cast on 234 stitches. 

Knit one row, purl one row, knit one row (makes half of inner border).

Purl 113 stitches. Change to colour for body of scarf. Continuing on from the purled stitches, knit 8 and turn.
Yarn over, purl 8 and turn.

Row A   Yarn over, knit to yarn over on previous row, knit this yarn over together with the next stitch, knit 3 and turn.
Row B  Yarn over, purl to yarn over on previous row. Pick up the yarn over onto the right needle as if to knit it, pick up the next stitch as if to knit it, then slide both back to the left needle.  Now purl them together through the back of their loops.  Purl 3 and turn.

Repeat these two rows, which will increase the length of each successive row by 4 stitches.  If you are changing colours to make stripes, instead of a yarn over at the beginning of a row A, make a starting loop on the right needle with the new colour then knit across.
When you have 5 stitches left on each end of the work which have not been brought into the body of the scarf, you are half way through.

Half way row - knit 116 stitches and turn.
Next row, yarn over, purl 8 and turn.
Repeat rows A and B as before.  

When you have 5 stitches left on each end of the work which have not been brought into the body of the scarf, complete as follows.
At the last part of the last row B, instead of purl 3 and turn, purl 2, purl 2 together, rejoin 
border colour yarn and purl 4.

To complete the second half of the border - next row, purl to yarn over, purl 2 together, purl 4.  Knit one row.  Purl one row.  Cast off in knit.

Sew in the loose ends.  Fold the scarf in half so that the right side of the piece is on the outside and the reverse stocking stitch border edges are rolling towards each other. Loosely stitch together the inner edges of the borders, then stitch back, closing the outer edges into a single neat roll.  

Wash and block out by gently stretching the border in a curve and smoothing out the stocking stitch to flare out above it.This picture shows the blocked scarf with the second half of the knitting facing - long curved stripes.

This picture shows the concentric curves formed by the first half of the knitting. The border curve sits well around the back of the neck, making the scarf inclined to wrap itself.
The well has a green plaque saying legend has it that Saint Cybi arrived at this spot in the sixth century.  I googled the name Cybi and read he was a prince who declined to become king, choosing to be a wandering priest.   'Glance aside, not for lance'. 
Another penny dropped.

Feeling I may have fathomed what was in Eliot's mind when he wrote the poem is not the same as understanding what he meant.  Good job too.  Don't want to dip too deep.


  1. Lovely, gentle colors, and pretty pattern. Your beautiful writing about T S Elliot, the White Hart, and the well, along with the pictures took me away in spirit to a land and time that almost seems forgotten. Thank you.

  2. Thank you Fran, very compelling read and I agree the colours and the form of your scarf are extremely pleasing.


  3. Tomorrow I will get up and dye something. You have inspired me to try again, whatever the result.

  4. Thanks to everyone who has written such rewarding comments - it pleases me immensely to find people enjoy the blog and like the stuff.