I finished a thing! Well, not thing. The thing I’ve spent over 150 hours (I lost count) on, making it the longest active WIP that I’ve finished to date, and the reason I haven’t had a single finished object for the last five months. It was supposed to be an anniversary gift for Lexsarch but ended up being….very late. Oops.

As I learned to double knit (see my last double knit project — the Triforce Bathmat) I started to think of applications of this technique that allows you to make reversible fabric with inverted colors on each side. Not only that, but if you’re very careful with your chart following, you can make different patterns on both sides. This intrigued me, and I thought–what if I made a scarf that was the beginning of a piano piece, but had the treble clef part on one side, and the bass clef part on the other?

Thus was born the “Barber Excursions scarf”

The piece is the third movement of “Excursions” by Samuel Barber–one of Lexsarch’s favorite piano pieces. I don’t know many people who know the piece, but it is absolutely beautiful.

Double knitting two charts simultaneously was extremely daunting and it took three false starts before I got the orientation correct on both sides. Since the scarf is knitted from the long side (jamming all those stitches on a 40” circular needle was SUPER fun, let me tell you), if I was reading the treble clef chart from left to right on every knit stitch, the bass clef part would be read right to left, on every purl stitch. It did start to go smoother and faster once I got into it though.

There were a couple other things besides the double knitting that took a ton of time and some learning on the job. First of all, the pattern is made completely from scratch, by coloring in boxes in Excel. What’s nice about Excel is, since I was reading from two charts at the same time, I could keep track by ticking off the boxes as I went through the chart. What’s not nice about using Excel, is…pretty much everything else. It’s a bit tedious to go through each box and color it in. Sometimes Excel would be weird and color in boxes for me–a auto-formatting issue I never figured out. When I wanted to invert the colors for the bass clef side, there wasn’t an easy way to do that since ‘color’ isn’t a cell value in Excel, so I had to do that part by hand.

barber front
Treble clef side of the scarf. It was difficult getting the whole scarf in the picture so it’s a little blurry.

The other thing that ended up taking me way too long was to embroider all the staff lines in. All the staff lines, measure lines and septuplet brackets (on the treble side) are backstitched on in order to make them thinner than a knitted line would be and also to avoid the “zig zag” look that a straight knitted line would take on. It ended up taking about the same amount of time as knitting the thing in the first place and I have renewed respect for people who do embroidery. More power to you–I think I’m done after this one.

barber back
Aaaaand…the bass clef side!