Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Pattern of a Scarf

A couple of years ago I hand-crocheted a Doctor Who Scarf for a friend for Christmas. I wanted to get it as patternally accurate as possible, so I had a look online. (Okay, the original scarf was knitted, not crocheted, but I am not as fast a knitter as I am a crocheter. Sosumi.)

I found not one, but several patterns, as The Doctor had a couple of incarnations of scarves (as well as bodies).

Turns out the pattern of scarf I wanted has a name: Acheson Hero.  (Who knew?)

Costume designer James Acheson (oh, I get it...) wanted a scarf for the Fourth Doctor. He handed a bunch of wool (yarn) to knitter Begonia Pope, who went to town.  Result: a twenty-foot scarf.

To look at the Acheson Hero scarf, it's hard to see if there's a pattern. It's like Begonia started knitting and lost count. Is the Acheson Hero pattern completely random?  Seem so.

This year I came across the remaining skeins of yarn. I thought, why not make a mini-version of the scarf for myself? I started off wanting to be true to the pattern, but in the end, I just started measuring out random lengths. I tried to keep the colour sequence as true to the Acheson Hero pattern, but in the end, just gave up as I ran out of yarn, spoons and firetrucks.

As I hooked and looped my new scarf, it was an ideal time to think. What if there is a pattern to the Acheson Hero, but it's not one we can quantify mathematically?  Why are there fifty-six rows of Yarn Colour 165 (bottle-fed baby poop) and only ten of Yarn Colour 113 (breast-fed baby poop)?

Then I wondered: what if the pattern of the scarf is the pattern of Begonia's life? Surely she didn't just sit down and crank out twenty feet of scarfy goodness in one sitting. If she's like every other woman I know, she's got a life, probably a husband, few kids, a dog... what if she fit this scarf-making in between everything else she had to do? What if the number of rows is the amount of time she had to work on that one section? See, she could have knit up six rows of one colour, repeat until out of yarn. But she didn't.

What if she used only a single colour per sitting? She'd knit and knit in that one colour until she ran out of time. Then the next time she picked up her needles, she swapped to another colour. What colour to choose? Maybe whatever matched her mood, or maybe whatever she laid her hands on reaching blindly into her yarn bag.

I'm thinking that row of ten was waiting for a pot to boil on the stove. That row of twenty, her waiting for the bus. The row of forty-four? In church on Sunday. The row of 56? Waiting at the doctor office. Row of eight? Kids' naptime (not long enough).

If this is her pattern, you can see where her life is busy and where her life is quieter.

Maybe instead of trying to follow her pattern, I should have followed her pattern and included colours to mark time for my own life.

Her Grace has one little leftover ball of yellow yarn (100% Aussie wool) and she's not sure what to do with it.

← This spot right here: early bedtime.

← Right here: suppertime.

← Here: picking kids up from school.

← I hope someone read the paper to her while she knit.

← I also hope someone told her what a good job she did.

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