All tied up in knots

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk

The only thing I like about cold weather is the clothes. While I am not a fan of coats – too bulky – I love sweaters, warm knit dresses and long sleeves. I am always eager to do the “switch-over” in my small dressing room/closet from the piles and hanging clothes of summer stuff to the sweaters and dresses of fall/winter.

Normally, I don’t enjoy shopping, but I am always up for looking for a new sweater, jacket or long-sleeved dress. This year is going to be a bit costly because I have literally loved my current stash of sweaters to death. My favorite one is 6-years-old, and I probably wear it two-to-three times a week! I got it out to wear today, and I now know the actual meaning of “threadbare.”

The one conundrum in my winter wardrobe is scarves.

I love them. I have cotton, lambswool, cashmere, fake cashmere, pashmina, woven, knitted – all kinds of warm, lovely scarves. I have scarves from Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, artisan craft shows and friends who knit. I have multi-colored scarves, patterned ones and solid colors. I have scarf rings and clips and pins to decorate them. They sit proudly on a shelf, folded and waiting for wear.

And they just keep waiting. I just can’t wear them.

Once or twice a week, I will pick out something to wear that has a perfect companion sitting on the scarf shelf. I will get all excited, standing in front of the mirror while I drape it around and fold it and bunch it and tie it and knot it in every way I can imagine. I once, with the help of a YouTube video, tied a scarf in what was supposed to look like a flower blossom on my shoulder. It looked like a smashed mess and wouldn’t stay on my shoulder.

Another time, a friend said, “Oh, I just knot the scarf a couple of times and pull the ends through, then fasten it with a pin.” Mine looked like a rope-tying challenge for a Cub Scout.

In the end, I fold the scarf neatly and put it back on the shelf. I just can’t convince myself that it looks good on me.

I have watched all sorts of YouTube videos on scarf-tying. I have bought short scarves and long ones, ones with poncho-style openings and ones with openings for your arms.

It just doesn’t seem to matter.  For all the love I have for them, they just don’t work when I add them to my outfit!

To add insult-to-injury, I have several friends who are the ultimate scarf-wearers. One in particular can literally just grab a scarf, throw it over her shoulder and look like she stepped off the fashion page. She wears them beautifully and effortlessly – never tugging or repositioning or grabbing them as they slip like I do on the rare occasion I actually make it out of the house wearing one.

I’m very tempted to just leave the scarves in the winter clothes box this year. Maybe a season of confinement will make them behave when I next try one on. I don’t think I’m up for the taunting of seeing them sitting smugly on the shelf.

Still, they are so warm and soft. Maybe I’ll try just one more time…

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons. Her newest adventure is as a travel agent with her own company, SGH Go Travel. Email her at

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