Cozy Warm

Knitted or printed, store bought or hand-made, there’s nothing like a cozy warm scarf on a winter day.

After enjoying an amazing string of beautiful weather days this past holiday season, and another week of sunshine (got up to almost 60 here on the north coast), I found myself this morning reaching into the closet and grabbing a scarf since it was 20F when I got up!  What a simple, amazing invention.  Then, of course, when I got to the office, I decided to poke around on the internet and get the skinny on where these came from, and just how far back the historians can track them.  I’m guessing Mr. Caveman saved a piece of fur for his lovely wife, so she’d be warm on the trek to the hinterlands. This had to be much better than the bark one he first gave her!

  1. A scarf, plural scarves, is a common piece of neckwear, typically a single piece of fabric worn around the neck for warmth, sun protection, cleanliness, fashion, or religious reasons. Scarves are made in a variety of different materials such as wool, linen or cotton.
  2. Scarves have been worn since ancient times. The Statue of Ashurnasirpal II from the 9th century BC features the emperor wearing a shawl. In Ancient Rome, the garment was used to keep clean rather than warm. It was called a focale or sudarium (sudarium from the Latin for “sweat cloth”) and was used to wipe the sweat from the neck and face in hot weather and were originally worn by men around their neck or tied to their belt.  Think of the American Cowboy!
  3. Historians believe that during the reign of the Chinese Emperor Cheng, scarves made of cloth were used to identify officers and the rank of Chinese warriors.
  4. In later times, scarves were also worn by soldiers of all ranks in Croatia around the 17th century. The only difference in the soldiers’ scarves that designated a difference in rank was that the officers had silk scarves whilst the other ranks were issued with cotton scarves. Some of the Croatian soldiers served as mercenaries with the French forces.
  5. Men’s scarves were sometimes referred to as “cravats” (from the French cravate, meaning “Croat”), and were the precursor of the necktie.  We’ve heard the term used even today, often associated with formalwear. Scarves that are used to cover the lower part of face are sometimes called a cowl and can be colloquially called a neck-wrap.
  6. The main manufacturer of fashion scarves used today is China; India, Hong Kong and Indonesia close behind. The most common materials used to make fashion scarves are silk, fleece, cotton, modal and pashmina or other cashmere wool in three basic scarf shapes: square, triangular and rectangular.
  7. The longest knitted scarf measures 14,978 ft 6.16 in. long and was achieved by Helge Johansen (Norway), in Oslo, Norway, on 12 November 2013. It’s taken nimble-fingered Norwegian 30 years to knit his neck-warmer to an incredible 4,565.46 m –sufficient to stretch the entire length of Central Park in Manhattan, New York. In order to measure his knitwear for Guinness World Records Day 2013, Helge unraveled his scarf – which he usually keeps in a ball – in a sports center in Oslo, Norway, snaking the scarf in dozens of tight loops. Cambodia’s longest hand-woven scarf, or krama in Khmer language, was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest scarf in the world in 2018.  The 88-cm-wide and 1,149.8-meter-long krama was taken nearly five months to be made by weavers from 20 krama weaving communities, and thousands of visitors had also added a few centimeters to the large krama when they visited its weaving site in front of the National Museum in Phnom Penh.
  8. The scarf became a real fashion accessory by the early 19th century for both men and women. By the middle of the 20th century, scarves became a most essential and versatile clothing accessories.
  9. In cold climates, a thick knitted scarf, often made of wool, is tied around the neck to keep warm. This is usually accompanied by a heavy jacket or coat.
  10. In drier, dustier warm climates, or in environments where there are many airborne contaminants, a thin headscarf, kerchief, or bandanna is often worn over the eyes and nose and mouth to keep the hair clean. Over time, this custom has evolved into a fashionable item in many cultures, particularly among women.
  11. In India, woolen scarfs with Bandhani work are becoming very popular. Bandhani or Bandhej is the name of the tie and dye technique used commonly in Bhuj and Mandvi of the Kutch District of Gujarat State.
  12. Scarfs can be tied around the neck in many ways including the pussy-cat bow, the square knot, the cowboy bib, the ascot knot, the loop, the necktie, and the gypsy kerchief. Scarfs can also be tied in various ways on the head.  Several Christian denominations include a scarf known as a Stole as part of their liturgical vestments.
  13. In uniforms, silk scarves were used by pilots of early aircraft in order to keep oily smoke from the exhaust out of their mouths while flying. These were worn by pilots of closed cockpit aircraft to prevent neck chafing, especially by fighter pilots, who were constantly turning their heads from side to side watching for enemy aircraft. Today, military flight crews wear scarves imprinted with unit insignia and emblems not for functional reasons but instead for esprit-de-corps and heritage.
  14. At graduation, students traditionally wear academic scarves with distinctive combinations of striped colors identifying their individual university or college.
  15. Members of the Scouting movement wear a scarf-like item called a neckerchief as part of their uniform, which is sometimes referred to as a scarf. In some Socialist countries Young pioneers wore a neckerchief called a red scarf.
  16. Since at least the early 1900s, when the phenomenon began in Britain, colored scarves have been traditional supporter wear for fans of association football teams across the world, even those in warmer climates. These scarves come in a wide variety of sizes and are made in a club’s particular colors and may contain the club crest, pictures of renowned players, and various slogans relating to the history of the club and its rivalry with others. Now you know why all four houses at Hogwarts had different color scarfs!
  17. At some clubs supporters will sometimes perform a ‘scarf wall’ in which all supporters in a section of the stadium will stretch out their scarves above their heads with both hands, creating an impressive ‘wall’ of color.  This is usually accompanied by the singing of a club anthem such as “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at Liverpool F.C., “Grazie Roma” at A.S. Roma or “Africa” by Toto at Columbus Crew matches.  This was initially solely a British phenomenon, but has since spread to the rest of Europe, North and South America. Some clubs supporters will perform a scarf ‘twirl’ or ‘twirly’ in which a group of supporters hold the scarves above their heads with one hand, and twirl the scarf, creating a ‘blizzard’ of color. This is usually accompanied by a club anthem such as “Hey Jude” at Heart of Midlothian F.C.
  18. Scarf wearing is also a noted feature of support for Australian rules football clubs in the Australian Football League. The scarves are in the form of alternating bars of color, usually with the team name or mascot written on each second bar.
  19. The craft of knitting garments such as scarves is an important trade in some countries. Hand-knitted scarves are still common as gifts as well.
  20. Printed scarves are additionally offered internationally through high fashion design houses. Among the latter are Burberry, Missoni, Alexander McQueen, Cole Haan, Chanel, Etro, Lanvin, Hermès, Nicole Miller, Ferragamo, Emilio Pucci, Dior, Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Prada.

 


 

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