Free pattern: BBC Scarfgate or Knitting the Scarf of Doom

Knitting has done a lot of things for me. It’s actually crashed through my life like a yarn-covered Godzilla, roaring fluffy flames at passers by as it goes. It’s been a wild and woolly ride so far. If you’re unclear on the rambling story of how knitting changed my life then I tell the whole tale here. So I’m not going to repeat it.

What I will do is tell the tale of ‘BBC Scarfgate’ or ‘Knitting the Scarf of Doom’. Are you sitting (and knitting) comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

How the scarf began…

Once upon a time there was a blue-haired knitter who was asked to go on BBC News to talk about knitting. EEK! She agreed to the adventure because she loves her woolly craft and is always up for encouraging others to dive into the world of sticks and string.

Whodunnknit Pix: I'm rocking pigeon chic today. #cooeythepigeon #angouleme

Have pigeon pocket, will travel

She was also asked to bring along some yarn and needles and knit a scarf live on TV. She was told that scarf would need to be big, bright and really rather funky. Alas the shops were already shut. What to do?!?!

Lucky for the TV people the knitter had more bright and funky yarn than was healthy for any individual, and it was right at her finger tips. She crept to her radioactive yarn stash and chose her brightest, most eye-popping yarn. There she also found the largest needles she had (sadly her very larger needles seemed to have lost half of the set. She suspected it had been eaten by her giant knitted squid).

And so she went off to bed. The next morning a carriage would arrive at 5am to whisk her to the fabled BBC Television Centre.

BBC Breakfast Scarfgate - BBC Television Centre at stupid o'clock

BBC Television Centre at stupid o'clock. Zzzzzzz...

Morning arrived and the knitter rolled sleepily from her bed. She wrapped herself in her Stitch London Tube Scarf, tucked Cooey the Pigeon in its pocket, grabbed her bag of woolly wonder and set off for the BBC. It was freezing cold and very dark, but she had her knitted pigeon for courage.

The morning whirled by like a Tasmanian Devil in a blender. The knitter hung out with several lovely people (including Aneeta Patel from Knitting SOS and Gerard Alt from I Knit), chatted vintage knits (which she knows very little about except they’re fabulous) with the make up lady (who had brought in a pattern specially to ask advise on a particularly pesky stitch), drank tea, and knit, knit, knit.

She appeared in front of the cameras, with knitted pigeon, four times.

BBC Breakfast Scarfgate - Eek!

Eegad! Here we go...

Each time she stitched away as she answered questions, tried not to look at the camera with ‘rabbit in car headlights’ eyes, and talked about the woolly world of wonder she was a part of.

Cooey the Pigeon took it all in her stride. The camera, apparently, loves her.

BBC Breakfast Scarfgate - Cooey in the Green Room

Cooey relaxes in the Green Room, which was clearly red

Throughout the morning, between tea, porridge, make up, handshakes with people who were experts on spitting in public, finance, weather and current affairs, the scarf grew and grew. Each time it appeared on screen it waved its crazy woolly self and attempted to look as bright and easy as possible.

BBC Breakfast Scarfgate - The  controversial scarf grows

Hullo world! I'm the easiest scarf to make ever. EVER!

It was quite a sweet scarf, if a little dopey. After all it was barely cast on before it was on live TV.

At last it was all over. The knitter cast the scarf off and it was whisked away to be wrangled over by the presenter it was meant for (who professed her love for its bright colours from her distant knitting past) and the producer (who liked it so much she actually cursed out loud when she found out it wasn’t meant for her).

All this was pretty impressive for a scarf barely a few hours old. It hung limply around the neck of the ‘meet and greet’ person, waving goodbye and looking a little lost. But I’m confident it went to a good home. So we don’t need to worry about it being eaten by big bad wolves or turned into a handsome scarf by a witch.

BBC Breakfast Scarfgate - Cooey the Piegon models the scarf of doom

Cooey models the scarf. Not suspecting it is the Scarf of Doom.

On the way out they did what every self-respecting geek would do on a visit to the BBC. They pretended that Cooey was the new Dr Who.

BBC Breakfast Scarfgate - Spot Cooey the Pigeon hanging with The Tardis

Spot the pigeon

BBC Breakfast Scarfgate - Cooey does her best Dr Who impersonation at the Tardis

Dr Coo waits patiently for her assistant (Dr Coo joke © Gary Northfield, comedy genius)

When Cooey and the knitter found their way sleepily home, they were welcomed by a HUGE torrent of the loveliest words ever. The words sloshed through the internet and drowned them both in congratulations and well dones and ‘Yay! Knitting!’s. Yarn shops tweeted about herds of new learners, old knitters tweeted about picking up their needles, and people who were always knitting raised their sticks and string to a job well done.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Well, almost all of them…

Dr Seuss always says it best

Dr Seuss always says it best

How the scarf became The Scarf of Doom…

Out of the shadows appeared the most rare breed of knitter in the world of craft, the frozen-hearted ‘yarn haterz’. AAAAIIIIEEEE!!!

In a few chilly places, on that thing they call the internet, there are bleating herds of people who have poured scorn on the knitter, the pigeon and the dopey scarf. They used their nastiness to turn a simple scarf into ‘The Scarf of Doom’: “truly hideous”, “enough to put anyone off knitting for life” and “the fugliest scarf ever”.

Now, disliking the scarf wasn’t so bad. Everyone likes different things and if we all liked the same things what a dull world this would be. But rather than just disliking it these folks were utterly disgusted and horrified. And it didn’t stop at the poor old scarf.

In the oddest turn of craft events since the invention of lube for jelly yarn, the knitter’s mental health, knitting credentials, needle holding, appearance, choice of wardrobe, ability to knit, and intelligence have been questioned and poked fun at by total strangers. 

These ‘yarn haterz’ didn’t just lurk in one place either. Oh no, several dark online pockets where unhappy people go to hide piped up. They crouched behind their avatars, so they don’t have to look you in the eye, snickering into their hands and thinking they can be as impolite, prejudiced and mean-spirited as they choose.

He really did

Not one of them stopped to put themselves into the knitter’s shoes and think about what they would have done. They just climbed upon their high horses, laughed themselves stupid and poked away with their pointy words, without a care. Dear oh dear.

Lucky for me their words were muffled almost entirely by the avalanche of supporters who piled into these dark places to shake their heads and pass around the woolly hugs. It proved the fact that I know well, which is that 99.9% of knitters are fantastic human beings. Which makes the other 0.1% a knot of sad and rather soulless stitchers.

I will always stand by this:

It doesn’t matter how you knit, or what you knit, or where you knit it. You’re fantabulous because you are a creator. Be proud of everything you knit, because, no matter what you end up with, the fact is that you created it with your own two hands and it’s bloody marvellous that you did.

How to deal with the ‘yarn haterz’…

There is only one way to really reply to people like that. And here it is in pattern form:

Look what I made and you can make too!


The first page of the pattern is just a simple little scarf that anyone can make. The second page of the pattern is a little bit of advice for any knitter who worries about what people think of them.

The pattern is offered to show support for a knitters’ world where everyone can knit whatever they like, whenever they like, how ever they like, without worrying someone will treat them like dirt for doing so.

Pass the pattern on to knitters you think might need a boost, or a laugh, or a little bit of encouragement to leave the ‘yarn haterz’ herd and stand with the happier carefree knitters.

[box] This pattern is dedicated to all the lovely knitters and non-knitters who sent such nice words of support when ‘Scarfgate’ kicked off. You’re the best advert for knitting ever. I am proud to stand amongst you and pass round virtual cake. [/box]

To the ‘yarn haterz’ I say, may you find your own happiness, before you get so tangled you turn into yarn ogres and eat each other.

My knitted pigeon, Scarf of Doom and I have our happiness and we don’t need to bring anyone else down to have it. And we’ll keep on sharing it too. So there.

*blows long and very immature raspberry*

And in case you missed it here’s a peek at one of the ‘Scarfgate’ moments on BBC News:

Huge woolly hugs to Tara (@mordantcurious on Twitter) and Claire (@claireej on Twitter) for proofreading my pattern after midnight on a Thursday when they should have been sleeping. You ladies rock. And to Owen, who helped Aneeta put the video up. Yay!


  1. Sandra
    February 17, 2012

    Yay you go girl. You absolutely just rock.

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 17, 2012

      As do you, and all of us knitters with attitude. 🙂

  2. Anne
    February 17, 2012

    Oh man, am I going to make the heck out of that scarf. I also want that spangled jumper the first Newcastle knitting lady was wearing. Like, a lot.

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 17, 2012

      I think a combo of the scarf of doom and that jumper may well bring about world peace.

  3. Sami T
    February 17, 2012

    Fanblinkingtastic my yarn lovely. Perfect. Stitches of goodness are the only way!
    I also very much love Dr Coo. xx

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 17, 2012

      Dr Coo says you can be her assistant any time. Woolly hugs xxx

  4. Daphne
    February 17, 2012

    Well done indeed! And to all those nasty, horrid people: Cooey knows where you sleep!

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 17, 2012

      Thank you!

      Cooey is eating blackberries now in preparation. 🙂

  5. sheila williams
    February 17, 2012

    I saw this because my dog follows your squid on twitter! Tweeting dogs, squid and teddy bears! The comments about you were dreadful, I haven’t knitted for years , am quilter now, but I will knit the BBC scarf just to second your raspberry to the people who wrote such nasty things about you.

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 17, 2012

      Hee hee. It’s an odd animal-tweeting world!

      I actually think the comments about me did a good thing. They made me even more determined to make sure all crafty folks see they are equal.

      I applaud any raspberry blowing scarf you make. 🙂

  6. The Fastener
    February 17, 2012

    As always, fantastic work lovely, and an awesome way to shove it back into the nasty hater’s faces! Well done chick xx

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 17, 2012

      Thanks, chickadee. Soon we shall take over the world… 🙂 xx

  7. outoftheframe
    February 17, 2012

    I love the knitting graffiti thing – I’d love to do it where I live. I can’t knit, but I’m pretty good at crochet so I’d do crochet graffiti instead! I still can’t believe there are knitting haters! some people have too much time on their hands!

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 17, 2012

      Yay! Go forth and graffiti! It’s an excellent use of your time and much healthier than hating. 🙂

  8. Dr Duckie
    February 17, 2012

    I saw you and went I KNOW HER FROM THE INTERNETS AND THERE’S COOEY! And my boyfriend gave me that slightly bewildered look he saves especially for such occasions.

    Although the scarf and its epic colour scheme aren’t my cup of tea, I thought it was great to be talking about the rise and rise of knitting. So nyah and pffffffffffrpt to the nasty knitterati.

    Wish I could join you in Ventnor, but am on call. Next time!

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 17, 2012

      Ah the internets. It’s a big world we all live in as neighbours. Please can I borrow your lawnmower? Thanks! 🙂

  9. MicheleStitches
    February 17, 2012

    I blow my own very long and immature raspberry in perfect harmony with yours!

    And just so you know, YOU (along with a Nerd Wars challenge) inspired me in my own first attempt to do a little yarn graffiti last year. I blogged about it here: I am proud to say that my silly, striped mailbox cover is STILL covering that box (although a little forlornly now). I should really do something to replace it.

    Keep on doing what you do and making us smile!

  10. Graffiti Grannys
    February 17, 2012

    Haha Amazing!!! Raises our pins to you!!

  11. Kelley
    February 18, 2012

    I think you are brilliant! May the haters find moths in their stash.

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 19, 2012

      That is an excellent curse! Let’s hope they find their happiness before the moths get them…

  12. Homesicknana
    February 18, 2012

    Oh I missed you on the day ( I do radio 4 in the morning…..could you knit on radio?!?) but LOVE the scarf and yes I had to wiz to my stash and make mine 🙂 You are the reason I have such fun knitting and Yah, boo, sucks! to the knitting police.

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 19, 2012

      I did knit on the radio once. BBC World Service. They told me I was knitting too quietly! 🙂

  13. naomi
    February 18, 2012

    fabulously fabulous! this little tale made it’s happy way all the to the bottom of the world, New Zealand! keep up the good knitting and the whole planet will love you for it 🙂

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 19, 2012

      Wowzers. All the way from NZ. I promise to keep up the good knitting. And the bad knitting too.

      I love NZ, by the way. I bungee jumped in Queenstown once. Boy did I scream. 🙂

  14. Heather aka Niftyknits
    February 19, 2012

    LOL I have also posed with one of my knits in front of the Tardis – I think it’s compulsory!

  15. Dilly Tante
    February 19, 2012

    I missed all this. Can’t believe that there are so many people with NOTHING better to do than complain about something that doesn’t infringe on their lives at all. And to say such awful thing to someone for knitting a scarf?! Twats. Keep on knitting!

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 19, 2012

      Well in the interest of being fair-minded I wouldn’t call them twats. So I’m very pleased you did. 🙂

  16. Knitty McKnitter
    February 20, 2012

    I think you’re a Rock Star! Knit on!

  17. Shaaron Sellars
    February 21, 2012

    Oh my stars…did I miss you on Telly? The coincidence of seeing you 2 times on layovers IS too much. Am off to watch the video link. Cheers from Atlanta girlfriend, and I’ll be over for a knit night soon, I promise. Signed, Proud of You in America, aka Did I Tell You I Know Her???

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 21, 2012

      On telly three times last week. I’m taking over. 🙂

      Would be fab to see you! Happy trans-Atlantic knitting!

      • Shaaron Sellars
        February 21, 2012

        Seriously, oh my stars. You truly are an inspiration–I read your story. There will always be people who criticize. Think of how sad and unhappy their lives must be. Then think of them no more.

        • Heidi J
          February 22, 2012

          I gathered there was a kerfuffle going on, and have since watched the awesome TV appearance. What’s not to love??! I totally agree with you, Shaaron, pity the fools ;-D

          I will be knitting myself a scarf of doom. I’ll knit it in public with pride!
          Viva La Knitters! (and crocheters!)

          • Deadly Knitshade
            February 23, 2012

            Viva indeed! The haterz have done a load of good in the end. I bet they’d hate that. 🙂

  18. Cindy
    February 21, 2012

    Where have I been??? I’ve just recently looked up, from my mountain of knitting, and heard about bad people who ridicule (or even hate) knitting and knitters. Say what? I’ve long known that my family has grown weary of scarves and tocques for Christmas gifts, but I’m just eccentric enough to act like I’m oblivious. And I keep giving them scarves and tocques…hee hee (Note that they all come running and snivelling when they need more dish cloths…) I, too, shall make a funky scarf, in honour of the bold knitters of the world. Heck…Maybe I’ll make about 10. For Christmas gifts…BWAHAHAHAHA…

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 23, 2012

      I join you in the evil laugh! You’re perfectly right. We’ll pile the ridiculous knits on until we can’t hear them. 🙂

  19. jay
    February 23, 2012

    you are an inspiration ! casting on scarf of doom !

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 23, 2012

      I reckon every one knitting whatever they like and not caring what people think is an inspiration. So yay for you too. 🙂

  20. Mugo
    February 23, 2012

    Hi, As it happened I did see you on TV that day. I was impressed. Today I was writing about a website loosly to do with knitting. And like any good bit of knitting the post twisted and turned and came out talking about communication. Apt considering the flack you received after the TV appearance. Amazing!

    At the end of the post I linked to your site. I love your sense of humour, style, knitting. Everything. At the risk of erring on the self promotion side of things here is the link to the post I just mentioned. do delete this last paragraph if you want. My intention is simply to spread a little knitting happyness and joy and say that it isn’t all fluff, there is depth in sticks and string too. But you knew that already.

    • Deadly Knitshade
      February 26, 2012

      Wow. What a fascinating post. I totally agree! Knitting is all about communication for me. With the community I am in, with spreading the idea that creativity, freedom and individuality are good things, and a connection between me and physical things (I do so much stuff online it’s nice to have something to create that you can hold).

      I’ll leave the link there so others can wander over. Happy to be in such good company. 🙂

  21. Matt
    March 6, 2012

    Just found your BBC story via the Travelling Hopefully blog, I don’t knit myself, but thought I’d just say well done, I enjoyed reading it. You come across as a very refreshing personality and someone that it would be a pleasure to know. All the best and keep knitting funky/interesting stuff!

    • Deadly Knitshade
      March 11, 2012

      *blushes to tips of yarndraped ears* Thanks ever so much. Mostly I’m just getting along and trying to help others get along too, but it’s always lovely to know I’m making people happy. Even non-knitters. Who really should learn… 🙂