Recently, I was in New York attending the 2014 Girl Develop It Leadership Summit. One of the chapter leaders that I was sitting next to was knitting a small project and we started talking about all the other awesome projects she was working on. She had briefly mentioned that she was also working on a ‘weather scarf’ and initially I thought “what else would you use a scarf in, besides the weather?”. She went on to explain that each row was it’s own color that was based on the average temperature for that day.
I thought more about it and decided that would be a fun project to do for 2015. I generally fail at knitting throughout the year, and binge knit in the winter months. Knitting is a nice stress release for me and allows me time to unwind at the end of the day.
There were a few things I needed to get ready before I jumped into knitting 365 rows of colors.
What yarn was I going to use?
Would it have enough colors for me?
How many degrees would each color represent?
What degrees will be in each color?
How many yards of yarn will I need?
Where will I get the weather data from?
What pattern will I use?
What size needles?
I opted to go with Bernat’s line of yarn called Sheep(ish) which you can get at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I’ve used it before, and it is nice and soft against the skin. I’m a strange cat and only like single ply yarn, it just creates such clean stitches. It’s also relatively inexpensive, at $3.99 a skein you can’t go wrong! It also comes in a large variety of colors, so I figured they would have enough colors for my temperature gauge.
The colors I went with, in order from ‘coldest’ to ‘hottest’:
Orange(ish) Updated from Pumpkin(ish)
I went with 10 colors because I had originally wanted to go from 0 to 100 degrees with each color representing 10 degrees. I changed how many degrees each color represented, but still stuck with the 10 colors.
The issue about the weather
Initially I thought, I could just wing it, and figure out the weather on the fly. The more I thought about that, the more I decided that was a terrible idea. I wouldn’t know how much yarn to buy, and what colors and how many colors. I set out in search of yearly weather data to help a girl out.
Wunderground is my favorite weather source, for many reasons. My new favorite reason is the fact that they have an impressive archive of weather data.
To find the average temperature for each day I took the high and the low and found the average of those temperatures. I then popped the values into a spreadsheet and went to town. I filled a spreadsheet with 365 days of 2013’s weather data to set a baseline for future years. I picked 2013 because it has a full year’s worth of data, instead of 2014 which is still in progress.
Thanks to Keith’s spreadsheet wizardry, we wrote a pretty fantastic sheet to do all these calculations for us. First, we find the average high for the year, then the low. Then we take that number and divide it by 9. Why 9? Because it's the number of colors minus 1... After we’ve divided the averages by 9 we have what we like to call the DEGREES OF SEPARATION. This is how many degrees represent each color. In this example our degrees of separation are 9, so each color represents 9 degrees of change.
Math is hard, that is why Keith does it for me.
Now that we have how many degrees represent each color - we can then assign color values to each cell in the spreadsheet that gives us a good representation of what the scarf will look like.
In the past, I’ve struggled with making scarves because I find them boring and long. But then one day, I discovered the Brioche stitch, and my life has never been the same. The Brioche stitch is a magical stitch that makes all ribbing fluffy, enjoyable, and fast! I hate ribbing - but love how it’s reversible. A lot of people are intimidated by the Brioche stitch because it has an abundance of annoying acronyms. Let me tell you friends, it’s nothing but pure speed knitting satisfaction.
Here’s the super easy pattern:
UPDATE 1/1/2015: I have updated the edging to be more consistent and not bunch up on the sides.
CO 34 stitches with size 7 needles
wyf: With yarn held in front as if to purl
Set up Row: K2, *(wyf) slip 1, YO, K1; repeat from * to last two stitches, K1, S1
Pattern Row: K2 *(wyf) slip 1, K2TOG; repeat from * to last two stitches K1, S1
Repeat Pattern Row twice for each day, this will create what appears as one row. Since the Brioche stitch is a special fluffy flower, two rows equal what appears to be one wide row. By doing two rows each day, all the yarn ends will stay on the same side of the scarf and you won’t run into that problem of having the yarn you need on the other side of the row. The two stitches on either side of the pattern are to create a clean edge up the scarf, optional if you're not into that.
To make this work for 2015, I had to do a few things.
Set up the base high and low. Remember above when I mentioned that the average high and low were calculated throughout the year? Well that’s cool - except if I’m giving the spreadsheet new data every day. Those numbers are going to change on the daily, and mess up my degrees of separation, which will in turn mess up the colors that represent each temperature range.
To make sure that didn’t happen, I used the data from 2014 to set a base, and then took the ability for the spreadsheet to calculate away. I put in static numbers for the high and the low, which gave me 9 degrees of separation. Now when I enter new data every day in 2015, things won’t get recalculated and I won’t need to frog this scarf!
### You can do it too!
I’ve made the spreadsheet publicly available for this pattern, with all the work already done for you! All you need to do is enter in the highs and the lows for each day and it will calculate everything for you. Questions? Comment below!
Note: anywhere you see a light blue cell is a cell you can edit. Well, you can edit any cell you want - but these special blue cells are the ones that are used for calculations.
I have provided two tabs for you to get started. Tab one is the previous year’s data. This will help you set up a baseline temperature to calculate the degrees of separation, as well as calculate the yardage you’ll need of each color.
The colors are conditional statements that you can change to match your color scheme.
To get a proper yardage calculation enter in the yardage per skein. If you are going to use a different pattern you should knit at one row in the pattern and then measure how many inches that row uses of yarn. This number is what calculates the yards used. Inches per row divided by 36 = yards of yarn you need to buy.
I’ve also provided you with some links to sample data from Wunderground. This is currently set to my location here in Boulder, CO. Feel free to update those to match your zip code!
Don't forget to copy this to your Google Drive by going to *File > Make a Copy*. This way you can edit it and you won't lose any changes.
Fun fact, my scarf will contain 24,820 stitches and enough yarn to span over 7 football fields!
Cheers to 2015!