Tutorial – The Colour Shifting Scarf

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This winter has been super cold, grey and monochromatic. So when Tanis Fiber Arts came out with mini-sock yarn skeins I was inspired to weave a colourful rainbow scarf, to give myself a cheerful pop of colour on these grey days. Changing colours as often as I did can be a bit fiddly, but oh-my the results are worth it, this is the perfect grey day scarf!

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In Newfoundland they say ‘There is no such thing as bad weather. There is only inappropriate clothing’. Well, it’s -40 out there today, that strange, cold place where celsius and fahrenheit say the same thing. I think that the spirit as well as the body needs to be armed against weather like this, and this scarf is the answer. tutorial-blank

You will need:

  • 2 packs of Tanis Fiber Arts Mini Sock Yarn Skeins
  • Optional: approximately 120 yards in a neutral colour (I’m using Koigu KPM, colour 2360)
  • A rigid heddle loom (I am using the Ashford 24” knitters loom)
  • A 12-dent heddle (Better for sock weight, but work with what you’ve got)
  • A boat shuttle with extra bobbins*
  • Tapestry needle
  • Scissors

*Most looms come with stick shuttles, but because you’ll be changing colours frequently, a boat shuttle with enough extra bobbins to give you one bobbin per colour is much easier. Also, a boat shuttle gives you a smoother pass through the shed, and because the bobbin spins freely it doesn’t do that awful snag thing when you’ve passed your stick shuttle though without a long enough length of yarn. If you enjoy weaving, it’s a worthwhile investment.

**//EDIT//**

I made another one of these later on, and I made a few tweaks that really improved the design. I used a 10-dent heddle instead of 12 which greatly improved the drape and allowed me to warp to 80”, which meant that after I cut off the loom waste Tanis was left with a more generous sized scarf at 65” long and about 15” wide. Because I had fewer dents to work with, I warped 6 threads of each colour instead of 7, and when weaving I wove 12 picks of each colour instead of 14. She loved it 🙂

Click here for the hemstitching tutorial I wrote while weaving this scarf.

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1. Open up the packs of yarn. Enjoy how ridiculously happy it makes you.

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2. Wind up the yarn into little balls and work out the order that you’d like your colours to appear in the warp. I went for something close to a natural spectrum. You will use one ball of each colour for your warp, and one ball of each colour for the weft, so keep the 2 sets separated.

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3. Do some math. You can change this to suite your preferences, but mine looked like this:

  • Intended scarf length: 60 inches
  • Intended scarf width: 15 inches
  • Estimated loom waste: 18 inches
  • Total warp length: 78”

Because a warp is under tension, pieces often seem shorter than you’re expecting when they get cut off. To account for this, I gave myself a buffer of 7”, increasing my total distance between the back apron rod of the loom and the warping peg to 85”.

Each mini skein is approximately 34 yards. With an 85” warp, this should let you fill about 7 slots of the heddle with each colour (remember, that means 14 warp ends per colour).

4. I chose to frame my scarf with a neutral colour, which has the added benefit of making it wider. This is optional, but if you choose to do the same thing then begin warping your loom with the neutral colour. I warped 8 threads of the neutral, and then proceeded to the first colour in my rainbow. Work your way across the loom, warping the colours in the order you set out in step 2, filling 7 slots with each colour.

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5. Now grab the other set of yarn cakes. Pre-wind your bobbins, one with each colour.

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6. Begin weaving. After you weave the leader, weave a few picks with the neutral colour and leave a tail at least 4 times the width of your piece. (You will use this to hemstitch the piece after weaving a few inches. This is my favourite hemstitching tutorial).  Starting with the first colour in your rainbow, weave 14 picks. Using the visual guide below, change to the next colour, staying in the order you set out in step 2.

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Tip: Changing colours:changing-colours

7. When you get to your last colour, simply start again with the first colour. Continue weaving to the end of your warp. End by weaving a few picks of the neutral colour and hemstitching. On my scarf, this meant 3 full repeats of my 12-colour rainbow, and a little less than half of a 4th repeat before I ran out of warp.

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8. Cut the scarf off your loom, wet-block, trim your fringe and buffer both body and soul against Old Man Winter!

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