Scarves make raw material for a dress

January 29, 1998|By ELSA KLENSCH | ELSA KLENSCH,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

On a rainy afternoon I put my young nieces to work sorting and folding some of the dozens of scarves I've collected over the years.

They had fun holding them up to look at the patterns and see if they liked them.

When one of them asked if she could have the scarf to make a dress, I discouraged her, saying I didn't think it was such a good idea.

But my sister-in-law says I'm out of touch, that many designers use scarves for dresses. Can this be?

Sister-in-law has it right. Designers not only use scarves for dresses but for blouses and skirts as well.

Of course, it helps to have an expert eye to make the right combinations, but the mixing of prints and patterns can be very effective.

Since you love scarves so much, you may want to try this suggestion: Spend another rainy afternoon stitching two scarves together to wear as a pareo over a swimsuit.

I admit it -- I'm an online junkie.

In a chat room recently I met an extraordinary man from Scotland. We really hit it off, and we decided to send each other something special from our home town.

He sent me a Shetland wool sweater. What makes Shetland so special?

My first inclination was to recommend that you check the Internet, but then for an expert's advice I went to the Lands' End sweater department.

Technical designer Dona Frusher tells me that Shetland wool dates back to the ninth century when Norse settlers brought sheep to the Shetlands, a string of islands off northern Scotland:

"The wool is fine and soft and so more suitable for knitting than for weaving. For this reason knitting became a mainstay of the Shetlands, making a significant contribution to the economy.

"Today, skilled Scottish knitters continue to practice their centuries-old craft. They spin the wool into a strong yarn that resists pilling and then knit it with a dense stitch to ensure warmth and durability."

Frusher adds that Shetland is a loftier, full-bodied wool that becomes very raspy after being knitted.

"To make the sweaters plump, they are washed in soft, spring-fed local waters. This makes the Shetland fibers bloom, returning the yarn to its naturally robust state."

Elsa Klensch welcomes questions from readers and will answer those of general interest in her column. Send questions to Elsa Klensch, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, 218 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, Calif. 90012. Or she can be reached on the Internet at

Pub Date: 1/29/98

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