Squirrelly Neckerchief – Aqua by Moon Angel on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Licence.

I asked on Twitter a while back for the modern-day word for ‘neckerchief’. People came up with various answers including cravat and fidget. It turned out that the closest to what I was thinking was a ‘baktus’.

Baktus is a character from a 1949 Norweigian children’s novel ‘Karius and Bactus’ by Thorbjørn Egner in which the two main characters are ‘tooth trolls’ that live in a small boy’s mouth: Baktus is a pun on bacteria. The Baktus scarf, which is named after the red-haired tooth troll is knitted in garter stitch: if you knit the same accessory in stocking stitch you would make a Karius scarf.

This triangular type of neckerchief/scarf had a real trend a couple of years ago on Norweigian knitting blogs and has remained a great popular in knitting circles as a great way to use one or two skeins of sock yarn. Everyone has those, don’t they? That one skein of really lovely yarn from a show that you couldn’t possibly leave without. It’s almost always sock yarn.

Anyway, the idea is to take a skein or perhaps two, and knit a triangle using the exact amount of yarn available. It’s a rather satisfying thing to do, and I have found that the best way to work this out is in a similar way as for dividing a skein for toe-up socks: use a set of scales. Weigh the yarn before casting on, and (weighing every now and then) start the decreasing when there is around 50% of the yarn left.

If you too are the sort of person who is not good at wearing traditional bulky scarves, knitting yourself a Baktus scarf might be a good a good compromise. It will keep your neck warm, but as it is a smaller, much lighter weight accessory, it won’t be bulky under your coat. The real clincher is the tapering ends, which can sit nicely behind your neck or in the V of your coat without taking up lots of room like a traditional, straight-ended scarf.

I made a baktus a couple of years ago from some green Zauberball, using the pattern Bravado from knitonthenet. There are two versions: one in lightweight sock yarn and one for medium weight yarn. I did the lightweight version. The tassle ends are a bit fiddly but lend a nice edge and a bit more interest to the scarf. I generally fasten it with a brooch when wearing it, for best decollatage coverage, but notice that lots of people sit the shallow V at the front and loop the ends around their neck, as in the picture at the top. Of course you can always wear it to keep your hair tidy when out motoring too. I know I do…

So, if you think that a baktus is just the thing for you, there are lots and lots of patterns on Ravelry, but here are also a few more, if you’re not.

Baktus by NorwayNeedles. The original.

Crest of a Wave by Jan Henley. Pretty edgings.

Crocheted Baktus by Helda Panagary. Because you’re not all knitters.

I bet you could whip one up before Christmas! I think mine only took just over a week and they make great tv knitting too.


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