The summer of my freshmen year of college, it became obvious: I had no money to go back to school. I was devastated. I sulked, furious. My parents lectured me about financial responsibility and working to pay my way. I considered signing a loan behind their back, running away. But I knew I wouldn’t.
The weekend my friends all were welcoming each other in the dorm lobbies, I spent babysitting. My friends sent me chirpy messages of I miss yous while I just sat there, furious, watching red-headed kids running under the south Texas sky.
I found a waitressing job at a local Tex-Mex restaurant, Alamo Cafe. In case you’ve never been to San Antonio, many businesses are named after the city’s claim to fame (in towns 20 minutes north, business are all bluebonnet this and bluebonnet that, but that’s another story). This restaurant, though, took the whole heroic mission theme further.
When you walk through the lobby, it’s as if you’re walking through a movie set for the Three Amigos. There’s a working fountain and telephone poles. You’re surrounded by adobe buildings detailed with plants and green shutters. A sign declares "Tortilla Factory" and sure enough, you can watch tortillas made by hand while you wait for a table (oh, and they’re made with lard, so they’re good).
But the thing you notice first is the sky. Hogwart-esque, it’s painted to resemble a beautiful Mexican day. As you wait for the buxomy hostess to seat you (only buxomy girls are hired as hostesses - I was sent to the back room to wait on families), the electronic day turns to evening. The sky darkens from sunny blue to orange and pink and stars begin to sparkle. I imagine, that if you squint and have had a beer or two, you might just find yourself in a small pueblo at dusk.
I was too busy being mad at the world to notice the changing days on the ceiling. Every day, I put on a red polo shirt and drove my navy suburban across town, where I would bring customers plates of enchiladas, chimichangas, and rice and beans. Some shifts, I was lucky to bring home twenty bucks.
And then one day, everything changed. My suburban died on the side of the road, and my parents realized it was cheaper to send me to school than to replace my only transportation. I walked into that restaurant and told my manager I was quitting immediately. I had been working split shifts, getting quite the sexual education (read: harassment), and I had made $1200. It was enough. I threw away my greasy polos and pants and with three days notice, I went back for the spring semester. It was like going home, back into the world of studying and political science. I would graduate and never move back to Texas again. Today, 13 years later, I thought of the changing sky in that faux Mexican lobby. Once again, I’m underneath a changing sky, but this time, I’m paying attention.
Sometime in 2015, I noticed some knitters online talking about making a sky scarf - a scarf that tracks the colors of the sky throughout a year. My knitting skills are horrific, so I came up with a similar idea for a crochet pattern. In fact, I took it one step further. I designed one scarf for the color of the daily sky and another scarf for the color of the daily sunset.
Now that 2016 is ended (can I get an hallelujah?!) and my two scarves are crazy long, but I can say I have seen the sky every day of the year. I mean sure, I’ve noticed it before, but for 365 days, I saw the details - the ever fading bands of brilliant blue, periwinkle, and light blue throughout the day. And when I recorded its daily colors I can point to this wide stripe of bright blues and know that week was beautiful; I can look at my sunset scarf and notice that the brilliant memorable sunsets aren’t as common as I would like. So when I took up from my dinner prep and see the wide streaks of neon pink and orange through my back window, I stop and watch. It’s too beautiful to miss.
Beautiful Days Sky Scarf
Choose colors for your scarf in different shades. For my sky scarf, I mostly used white (snow), gray (cloudy), light blue, periwinkle, and bright blue. The specific yarns I used were:
- Vanna’s Choice linen
- Vanna’s Choice dusty blue
- Vanna’s Choice silver blue
- Loops and Threads Impeccable Butterscotch
- Red Heart Soft Tangerine
- Vanna’s Choice Pink
- Vanna’s Choice Mustard
- Vanna’s Choice Terracotta
- Red Heart Soft Mid Blue
Choose two colors for the first day (even if you are doubling the first color)
With the first color, ch 35.
With the second color, sc 35.
For each subsequent day, chose the color you wish to resemble the sky and sc 35, leaving the ends to weave in later.
When the scarf is done, you can choose to leave it as is (as a mega scarf), add fringe, or sl the ends together to make a cowl. I added leather tags with "2016" as a finishing touch.
I had a million ends to weave in when I was done, but it’s not too bad if you keep up with it. If there is a stretch of days that are all super sunny or cloudy, then I could just do one color for several rows and save myself a few extra weaves.
In hindsight, I wish I had known a few things before starting my scarves:
First, figure out what system works for you. I kept all the yarn balls in a basket, ready to go. When I had a week or two of daily notes on my phone, I would get the basket out and get caught up.
Second, I wish I had made color cards before starting and that I had chosen fewer colors.
Third, I figured out that it was better to keep a list on my phone what the sky and sunset was each day. That way, I could stitch a week or more at a time without having to drag my big project basket around everywhere.
Fourth, don’t set yourself up for failure. It doesn’t matter when you notice the sky - notice it when you can. If I made a rule that I had to notice the sunset at the same time every day for a year, I would have quit in a week. It’s about the process. I’m a result-orientated crocheter and this scarf may be odd fashion-wise, but look at what it contains: a daily tracking of the most beautiful display we can see.
Fifth, I realized that when I take on a big crochet project, even as something as simple as 35 single crochet stitches a day, I will accomplish much fewer other projects. That may seem obvious, but it’s helpful to me when I’m frustrated that another project (such as a baby blanket) isn’t going as fast I would like.
Sixth, enjoy the process! The result will look different than mine and different than you think, but this is very much a process before product pattern, but that’s art.