Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Perks--story and pattern

Anonymous Borogravian sergeant with bronchitis standing to attention in her Perks

General Polly Perks sat at a chilly table thought. Winter had forced a hiatus in the war against Mildewvia and she was home at the inn, with her squadron garrisoned on the surrounding farms, where they were expected to help with the work. It was bitterly cold outside, and she had just cut a training session short because several ill-clad recruits were showing signs of frostbite. They were clustered around the fire, shivering; she was huddled in her greatcoat by the door.
What we need, she thought, is a regimental scarf, but scarves aren’t safe when you’re on watch and someone might sneak up from behind. It must be wide enough that it can’t be used to throttle a soldier, warm enough to keep her neck from the cold, and simple enough to work up that she can make her own. It could be fastened with a big wooden shawl pin, or a button that would pop out of the stitches under stress. Big stitches. Big yarn. She peered into the project bag at her side.

A few days later, she presented her prototype and pattern to the squad, and handed them hanks of Borogravian extra bulky yarn and giant hooks. They huddled near the fire and went to work, talking quietly among themselves. The first to finish called out to the others, “I’ve made myself a Perks!”

Polly had always refused to find herself a signature garment, but now she smiled as she thought, “I must tell General Cowl and Captain Neckwarmer that I’ve had a garment named after me at last.”

Materials: Since Borogravian extra bulky is not available outside the Discworld, I substituted two skeins of Brown Sheep Burly Spun yarn. They can be the same color or two coordinating colors. (Pattern uses about 1 and 1/3 skeins.)  Burly Spun is much thicker than most super bulky yarns, and is the only yarn recommended for this pattern. Because it is a singles yarn, it shows off the stitches beautifully.

 15mm crochet hook (Susan Bates makes one this size--it's listed as a P/Q). Smaller hook or yarn needle for weaving in ends. Shawl pin or button.

Gauge: 4 rows and 7 sts = 4 inches. Your gauge may vary, but my finished piece measured 13 x 32; do a swatch to make sure you are on track, as the first row is not an accurate representation of the gauge. The swatch can be unraveled and added to the Perks.

Stitching into the third loop pushes the top two loops to the other side of the fabric. This creates a raised pattern on every other row of each side of the fabric, so that the fabric is reversible. It also gives the fabric more drape and flex.
Location of the third loop:
My left thumb is holding the fabric by the two loops at the top of the stitch, and my right forefinger is pointing to the third loop.

Row 1: FHDC 22 (or number necessary to make your gauge). Turn. Ch 2. (Initial chain and turning chain DO NOT count as stitches.)
Row 2: HDC in third loop of 1st st and each stitch to end of row. Ch 2. Turn.
Row 3: HDC in third loop of 1st st and each stitch to end of row. Ch 2. Turn.

Repeat Row 3 until desired length. Make sure you have an even number of rows before going on to the final row. (I went to Row 36.)
Final row: SC in third loop of previous row. (My final row was Row 37.)

After the initial row, the rows will line up in two-row units, with the top two stitches of each row pushed out on opposite sides of the fabric. If you change colors, do so on an odd-numbered row.

Break yarn and weave in ends. If you are using a button, determine placement and tie (not sew) it in around the post of a stitch, then weave in ends of button yarn.


1. Colorblock as shown at any point after an odd number of rows, so that your color change will come at the end of a 2-row unit. (project shown has a contrast color for the final 9 rows). 
2. Make stripes of any size. 
3. Use a thin mohair carrying yarn, perhaps in a print, for better camouflage. 
Remember never to use black—it shows up in the shadows.

Note on Burly Spun yarn:
Burly Spun comes in a hank and must be wound into a ball before it is crocheted. Do not wind the yarn too tightly. As you crochet, you may find the twist getting tighter. I prefer somewhat less twist than the yarn has when it comes from the mill, so I unwind a couple of feet from the ball, trap the yarn against the ball with my hook, hold the live end of the yarn below the WIP so that the Perks doesn’t unravel, and let the yarn unwind till it reaches my desired twist. Be careful never to never let it unwind till it comes apart! It must still have some twist. I may repeat this process, which takes a few seconds, every row or so, depending on the amount of twist I like for a given project. It doesn’t take long and it’s a good break for the hands.

Your finished Perks can be worn in a variety of ways, as illustrated:
As a shawl-collared neckwarmer (this is the way Gen. Perks recommends), with one end centered over the other and the neck edges turned outwards;

As a small but mighty shawl:

Doubled lengthwise as a short, heavy scarf.

I did not block my Perks. When it is time to wash it, I will prepare some cold water with a drop of shampoo and place it in the water to soak for an hour or so, remove it, dump the water, and place it in another sinkful of water with a little vinegar in it, then place it gently in a colander in the sink, wait until most of the water drips out, roll it in a towel without stretching it and let it sit awhile longer, then place it on a dry towel on a flat surface and block it gently, pushing the stitches together rather than stretching them out, before I leave it to dry. This yarn will felt, so it must be washed with care. It must not be stretched, twisted, or wrung out.

This scarf was created for a Ravelry challenge: the 2014 scarf challenge in the Ankh-Morpork Knitters' (and Crocheters') Guild.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated, usually within 24 hours.