Mother of Pearl, a scarf

I know my mention of a delectable little shell intrigued many of you, and confused even more :).

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Well, I was referring to the shape of the thing, not an actual sleeveless sweater :). This little shell and many others are part of my newest design, the Mother of Pearl scarf!

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I teamed up with Crystal Palace Yarns to bring you this pattern, and it is available for free on their website. All the details are contained within, of course. Naturally, the pattern has also taken up residence on Ravelry.

I’m including some pattern history, interesting tidbits, and more photos after the fold, if you’re inclined to take a look ;).


This pattern has been in the works since the Spring of 2007. Back then I got my hands on a pearly white ball of Panda Wool by Crystal Palace Yarns (since then replaced by Panda Superwash), and the shimmer had me hooked!

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At that time I was thinking about dimensional knitting – how to make knitted designs pop from the background – so Panda Wool, a yarn with a tight twist, a bouncy feel, and shimmer, was an instant winner.

For the 3-D aspect, I played with many different ideas – making elongated stitches, increasing and decreasing quickly, divorcing the standard pairing of yarn overs and decreases. The shells emerged next – oysters, mussels, clams, and scallops suddenly appeared, and seemed to belong when knit up in the pearly yarn. I thought, “It’s all pointing to nacre, or mother of pearl.”

I tried to keep things in perspective and not get too complicated, however, arranging elements in a way that made sense while delivering the desired visual. So, all the crazy increases happened in the same row, and all the unusual, funky stuff happened a few rows later, and then there had to be several rows of “smooth sailing” – no need for a chart, just finish off the pattern repeat as it plays itself out.

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This is the original swatch! It made its way to Interweave, where unfortunately it was not selected to be in one of their issues. A year-long hibernation followed during which I had to live my life (engaged! married! new job! moved!), but I never, ever forgot my Mother of Pearl design. Just something about it… I guess it took a lot of thought to make those shells appear exactly as I wanted, and I insisted that they be shared with the world!

It occurred to me that perhaps Crystal Palace Yarns would be willing to provide me with some yarn if I wrote the pattern for them. Bingo! Susan Druding (CPY founder, owner, director, you name it!) was very excited about the project, and helped me select the appropriate yarn – Panda Silk DK.

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute! Didn’t the yarn inspire the pattern? How could you swap it out for something else?” Simple. It’s a better choice for this pattern, a choice which wasn’t available back in May 2007! This yarn has an incredible amount of drape without a hint of limpness. It’s very soft, it’s shiny, and it’s a bit thicker than the original (DK versus fingering-weight – one knits up much quicker than the other!).

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CPY Panda Silk DK (from top left corner, clockwise): Frosted Iris (9800), Mint Cream (6008), Frosted Rosewater (2510), Café Mocha (6021), Misty Meadow (1012).

Between you and me, Mint Cream is my absolute favorite of the bunch. However, to keep true to the pattern, I used Frosted Rosewater to knit the CPY sample – it’s a much likelier MOP color, don’t you think?

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Yes, note the body, the height, the profile of that thing! Just a few inches in, I knew that my design knit up in Panda Silk DK was going to be a good one ;). Several feet later, here it is!

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68 thoughts on “Mother of Pearl, a scarf

  1. Jess

    Beautiful! This one is heading straight to my queue… love how the texture of the pattern complements the subtle variegation in the yarn.

  2. Trish

    This is beautiful. Just in time for Valentine’s Day knitting.

    P.S. How did you hook up with Crystal Palace? I have some designs I’m cooking up that really will look awesome in a specific manufacturer’s yarn. I’d like to let them see the design. Is there a specific channel you go about to do it?

  3. Tracy J.

    That is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO gorgeous. Straight into the queue, can’t wait to get back to the States, find the yarn, and start! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Lotta

    Oh, it’s wonderful! Thank you so much for the pattern, I’m always looking for nice rectangular scarves and shawls. A pity for IK that they didn’t publish it :).

  5. amalia

    Gorgeous! Loved the story, too. I never realized how much goes into creating a pattern for the public. I’m headed over to the CPY website now. Wow!

  6. mel

    Really lovely – the stitchwork on this is very nice, I love those little shells on the edges!

    And thanks for mentioning the backstory on this – I’ve a project in the works now that was first sketched back in 06 and has been a helpful reminder to me of how long an idea can actually take to come to fruition – and that it is perfectly ok! Your long awaited scarf is a lovely design and a perfect example of this!

  7. Lillie

    I love it! And I think the minty color looks like it belongs seaside as well. Guess you’ll have to make one in that color too.

  8. Laura

    It’s really lovely! And will make an absolutely perfect Mother’s Day/Birthday present… this is going straight into my queue.

    Thank you for making it available!

  9. Lara

    Lovely! I especially like the way that you incorporated the edging into the body of the scarf, rather than adding it afterward. That construction makes it so much easier to knit with a precious yarn when you want to squeeze every last yard out…just the kind of yarn that would be perfect for this pattern, in fact!

  10. Beatriz

    What a gorgeous pattern. It is quite clear the time, thought, and effort you put into designing this stitch pattern. Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. Agnes

    Congratulations on the release of your latest design. It’s lovely.

    Some yarns just have a special lure … Panda Silk is one of them. I especially love the fingering weight … the tiny little ball is just a delight. :)

  12. PipiBird

    Congratulations Grumperina. It’s a beauty. I love the way you write and you always provide inspiration!

  13. Kristen

    Thanks so much for the pattern — it is beautiful. I am thinking of making this in a bamboo/silk yarn I saw this weekend at my LYS. Can’t wait!

  14. Mary K. in Rockport

    Very, very pretty. I admit, though, that I was hoping in an unbecomingly forward way for – a baby item.

  15. Seanna Lea

    That came out wonderfully and it serves me right that I was among the people who thought it was going to be a sleeveless sweater!

    I love how bouncy and thick it looks, and I might have a perfect yarn for it in my stash (though it is supposed to turn into a pair of gloves, so maybe I just need to buy more yarn… oh horror!).

  16. Prunila

    Weeell, I’m not sure if I like it because of the pale pink… maybe with another shirt instead of black? I’m sure I would love it in real but for me it would be difficult to decide the color of the silk.

    What I love is the sides, shape and… the romantic look, so soft and very 1800’s…

  17. Meghan Babin

    So gorgeous. Just the selfish and indulgent knit I was look for in a late winter/early spring scarf. The beautiful pink seems to beckon spring now! Thanks G.

  18. Grace in VT

    Dear one, You have again made yarn into a work of art and HEART. I love this pattern.

    I also wanted to say that apparently i was a combination knitter for years until I was “retaught” and Now I can’t do the purl part. Do you have a link on how to do the purl side?

    I Found that method Fastest, but I was

    SHAMED into changing my method… My lace was torn out but the helper… and I guess I was Jolted in my menopausal brain to do something different. So now i can’t remember. Also wanted to tell you that I so much enjoy seeing you on Knitty Gritty!!! I think you are the most down to earth and loveliest knitter I have seen!

    thank you for kindness to us

    who do the needles “differently”.

    blessings, grace

  19. Grace in VT

    Dear one, You have again made yarn into a work of art and HEART. I love this pattern.

    I also wanted to say that apparently i was a combination knitter for years until I was “retaught” and Now I can’t do the purl part. Do you have a link on how to do the purl side?

    I Found that method Fastest, but I was

    SHAMED into changing my method… My lace was torn out by the person helping me and it was so traumatic. I had knit since i was 6 but had problems with lace knitting and asked for help .. soI guess I was Jolted in my menopausal brain to do something different in purling and now my stitches are twisted in the knit side and lace still doesn’t work great.

    BTW I Also wanted to tell you that I so much enjoy seeing you on Knitty Gritty!! Thank you for making plus size and i would love to see a lace plus size cardigan with a mandarin collar ! Does that spark an idea??

    I think you are the most down to earth and loveliest knitter I have seen! THANK YOU AND

    thank you for kindness to us for this pattern PLUS for teaching us who do the needles “differently”.

    blessings, grace

  20. Debbie

    Your scarf is gorgeous! I love it. By the way, did you know you have a very inappropriate post above? You need to look at it and remove it!

  21. KERaven

    Kathy, I love it! I’m trying to figure out to fit it in with my other long-term projects. It might just fill the “sweater” spot which is currently unoccupied. Hope all is well with you.

  22. Liz

    I, too, dreamed of the precious sleeveless shell that would show up one day (I admit to being impatient!) on your blog – pink, of course, being my absolute fav! But, this breathtaking little beauty has swept all those thoughts away and brought only gratefulness and awe in it’s wake. Thank you so much!

  23. Sherri

    Just wanted to say that that is a beautiful matching of pattern with yarn. I predict that a lot of Panda Silk DK is going to be sold for this. :-) I know I intend to get some!

  24. niney

    Wow, this is beyond beautiful.

    I never do well with lace,

    I had a mishap with Branching Out that stole my confidence.

    but this makes me want to give it another go.

    Thank you so much. you are awesome.

  25. risiko

    oooooh. me looove it ! keep feeding my new lace addiction. thanks so much, you did an amazing job ! and free too. wow!

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