For this scarf in honor of Isabella Bird [October 15, 1831–October 7, 1904], I wanted to incorporate details from her journeys into the design. Although few of her mentions of knitting are detailed, she informs her sister (in A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains, Letter V) that she has been knitting her a “shell-pattern quilt.”
The Fan Shell motif seemed just the ticket, and the yarn choice (a yak down/Merino wool blend) connects two of Isabella’s destinations—Tibet, where most yaks live, and Colorado, home of the yaks that supply the fiber for Bijou Basin Ranch yarns.
The scarf recalls the lace fabric neck “ruffles” of the nineteenth century and is a style that a lady traveler might find useful—keeping the neck warm but without long ends to tangle with reins, trees on overgrown paths, or a person carrying one up dangerous mountain trails. Knitting the scarf in the round made it warmer and cozier. The pattern is easily memorized and so is quite appropriate as a travel project. All in all, it’s a very Isabella scarf.
- Bijou Basin Ranch Himalayan Trail Bijou Spun, 75% yak down/25% super fine merino wool yarn, sportweight, 200 yards (182.9 m)/2 ounce (56.7 g) ball, 1 ball of Natural Cream
- Needles, circular 32 inches (80 cm) for Magic Loop or set of 5 double pointed, size 6 (4 mm) or size needed to obtain gauge
- Stitch holder
- Tapestry needle
Finished size: 36 inches (91.4 cm) long and 4½ inches (11.4 cm) wide at widest point
Gauge: 20 sts and 30 rnds = 4 inches (10.2 cm) in St st
—Carol Huebscher Rhoades
Download a copy of the September/October 2014 issue of PieceWork to make your own knitted scarf, “Isabella’s Scarf to Knit.” Plus read Carol’s companion article, “Isabella Bird: Traveler Extraordinaire,” and learn more about this fascinating woman traveler. For more from Carol, read our blog post “Victorian Socks for Independent Women.”