A few months ago I wrote about using vintage edging patterns to make pretty dress-up crowns. If you look on Pinterest, you can also see doily patterns being worked in chunky yarns to repurpose them as intricate, decorative area rugs.
Well, here's a similar idea: all those pretty edging patterns, especially the wide ones, can be worked in thicker yarns to make fun scarves and cowls. Use a pattern that's roughly symmetrical to make a scarf, or choose one that's scalloped or pointed on only one side to make a cowl.
This is a scarf I made in a DK weight yarn and a size G (4.25 mm) hook. It's made from a classic edging pattern. If I were to make it in thread, as originally intended, it would be about an inch or so wide. Made in the gauge I'm using, it's about six inches across, making it a decorative scarf that is wide enough to be practical as well as pretty. Each repeat adds a couple inches of length, too, so it goes pretty quickly. I've written it up as a free pattern, here.
A Google search for "vintage crochet edging patterns" or "vintage knitted edging patterns" will yield both websites that have compiled lots of individual patterns from old books that are now in the public domain and those old books republished as pdfs. The pattern in the photo above is a pillowcase edging from one such book. I found it on a website that has links for several pdf reproductions of old pattern books. Knitting-and.com and Free Vintage Crochet are both good resources. Many of the patterns you find will be reversible, making them excellent choices for this kind of project.
Generally speaking, you will probably want to look for patterns that are worked short-ways. If you go for a crocheted pattern worked longways, consider starting the pattern with a row of a foundation stitch instead of creating a hard chain edge. Patterns that are symmetrical are usually called "insertions," because they were intended to go between two pieces of fabric. Patterns that are straight on one side and pointed or scalloped on the other are edgings, and are intended to be attached to fabric on only one side. Some edgings are also symmetrical, like the one shown above, but most aren't. When it comes to yarn, you'll be best off either choosing something with a little loft to it to help define the pattern or a smooth yarn with some heft to create a piece that drapes well.
When you look at patterns, try to imagine what they will look like scaled up and whether they would look good as a scarf or cowl. Not all lace patterns make sense when scaled up. When you work through a pattern, keep a close eye on the photo that goes with it, as pattern terminology has changed over the years. Also make a note before starting of whether crochet patterns are using British or American terminology.
This post has been linked to Happiness is Homemade, Busy Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Heartsie Girl, Stitchin Mommy, Wow Me Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Thursday Favorite Things, and Friendship Friday.