Scarves with a pattern

Do you really need a pattern to create a scarf?  We have some, if you want to use them, but no, you really don’t need a pattern.

This is how you can create a scarf without using a pattern.

(A crocheted scarf would use the same thought process, of course, so use whatever craft you are most comfortable with.   Keep in mind that a scarf is all about drape, and many crochet stitches don’t allow much drape, so they might not be appropriate for a scarf, and would work better on a hat which doesn’t need drape.)

Step One – Choose a Stitch

In order to decide what  stitch you want to use on the scarf ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is the stitch two sided?   (you see both sides of a scarf)
  2. Is it knit/purl balanced? (so it won’t curl)
  3. Is this a comfortable stitch to use for the whole length of a scarf? (if it’s too hard, or you don’t enjoy knitting it, then you won’t want to make a 48 inch long scarf with it!!)

If you don’t own your own dictionary of stitch patterns you can find them at your local book store or library.  Here are a few on-line dictionaries that you might enjoy using.

Step Two – Practice

Before you start a scarf using the new stitch pattern you have chosen you need to figure out two things:  1. Is this a fun stitch to use on a scarf  and 2.  How big will the stitch be in my yarn (so I know how many to stitches to cast on).

The easiest way to answer both of those questions at the same time is to use the pattern and create a swatch.  It doesn’t need to be huge, just a couple of repeats of the pattern is usually enough to see how it works, and how wide a repeat is.

Take for example this pattern stitch, called Chevron Stripes.


This looks like a fun pattern, it’s not hard to do, it will look the same on both sides, and it won’t curl much.  The pattern is a repeat of 18 stitches over 30 rows.  So for a swatch one could cast on 22 stitches (18 for the stitch and two stitches for a border worked in grater at the edge)  then work about 15 rows –  just enough to see how it works, and how big it will be.  This will tell you how many repeats you will need (including a border) to create a scarf of the width you want.

For example: if you knit a swatch and find that the Chevron Stripe pattern is 4 inches wide, and you want a scarf that is at least 8 inches wide, then two repeats of the pattern will work for you scarf.  So that would be 18 x 2 = 36 stitches.

But you don’t want to forget the edging!  If you add five stitches of garter stitch on each side of the scarf then you need to cast on 46 stitches.

Don’t get too bogged down in the numbers, swatches will lie to you given half a chance, so it’s a “guesstimate” at the best of times. Go with it, and don’t be afraid to rip it out and start again if you don’t like it.

 Step Three – Start your scarf

Cast on the stitches you think you need.  Don’t forget that if you have added a border on the edges you will want a border to start with, too.  In our example we used garter, so for our scarf we would cast on 46 stitches and work in garter stitch for an inch or so, and then begin the Chevron stripe pattern.  After about 3 inches of the pattern you should be able to tell if it is what you want:

  • Is it curling?
  • Is it fun to knit?
  • Is it wide enough?
  • Does it look like you want it to?
  • Are you happy?

There is no shame in starting over!  If there is something you think would make it better then rip it out and start again.  One of the joys of a scarf is that you can test out new stitch patterns, play with needle sizes or widths,  and it doesn’t take long to know if you are happy with it.

Step Four (OPTIONAL)

Write it down!  If you write a pattern that works for you and you like the way it looks write it down and send it to us.  We will test it and if we like it too, then we will put it up on the website for others to share!

We already know that you are a caring and generous person or you wouldn’t be knitting for Adele’s Legacy to begin with, so please, don’t hesitate to share your pattern with us – knitters and crocheters will thank you!!

How to Cast On

There are literally hundreds of ways to cast on.  It takes time to learn how to know which way is the best way for you and for your particular project.  But if you are a beginning knitter there is no need to worry about all those hundreds of ways – just relax! Here is the most basic way to cast on – step by step.

Cable cast on

The cable cast on is what I teach brand-new knitters because it employs the same motions and movements that you make when you knit.

This cast on would be perfect for the bottom of a hat that you want to be a bit stretchy, so it will go on over your big noggin –  but not so stretchy that it looses it’s shape and gets larger with time and then falls off your big noggin.  It would also work well at the bottom of a sweater or at the cuffs because it will stretch a little but will keep it’s shape over time.

This method is not hard to do, although it might seem a bit complicated at first.  Once you have done it a few times it will get much easier.  Get a piece of scrap yarn and give it a try.

Step 1

Twist the yarn around the needle so it created a CLOSED loop over the needle.  You don’t need to twist it more than once, just once is enough.  (You can use a slip knot here if you wish, but if you don’t know how to make a slip knot this works beautifully.)

Cable 01

 Step 2

Put your right needle into the loop, below the needle, pointing away from you.

Cable 02

Step 3

Wind your working yarn, not your end (which should be about 7 inches long), around  the point of the right hand needle with is pointing away from you.  Wind the yarn under then over the point and then toward the right. In the picture the yarn is wound very loosely to show you where it is going, in real life you will want to pull the yarn taut (Not tight, no death-grips, just snug and taut.)

Cable 03

Step 4

The yarn that you have wound around the point of your right hand needle and pulled snug is the new stitch that you are starting to make.  To finish making it you need to  pull it through the loop on the left hand needle, do that by pulling to towards you through the loop so it looks like this:

Cable 04

You don’t have to worry about the size of either of the loops, you will be pulling the yarn taut later, right now it’s just important that you get the new stitch through the loop.

Step 5

Now you have one loop (which is actually your first stitch) on the left hand needle and one loop (which is about to become your second stitch) on the right hand needle.  So the next step is to put the new loop onto the left hand needle next to the loop that is already there.  To do that pull the new stitch out so it’s big, it can be REALLY big if you want, just pull it out….

Cable 05

Then loop it over the left hand needle like this:

Cable 06

Once it’s on the needle you can pull your working yarn taut so it’s snug. (NOT tight, snug!)  And you are done. You just cast on a new stitch.  Now go back to step two and repeat Steps 2-5 to create your next new stitch.  Continue until you have the number of stitches the pattern calls for.

 Alternate Method

There is another way to do a cable cast on that is ALMOST exactly the same, but it makes a neater edge.

Follow the directions above steps 1-5.  When you want to cast on your third stitch (or any after that) instead of putting your needle into the loop on the left hand needle put the point of your needle between the loops of the last two stitches:

Cable 08

Then continue with Steps 3-5.  The only thing different about doing it this way is that it creates a more intricate edge to the cast on.

 Tips and Tricks

1. You never want to pull the yarn TIGHT.  (This is true for all knitting, not just when you are casting on.)  Pulling the yarn tight serves no good purpose it will either loosen up on it’s own and you will be frustrated, or it will stay tight and then when you try to knit the next row you can’t get your needle in between the yarn and the needle and you will be frustrated.  (Do you see a trend there?)  You want snug, taut pressure not TIGHT.

2. Always leave between 7-10 inches of yarn as a tail when you cast on.  This will make your weaving in much less difficult. If you know that you will be sewing a seam from this end then leave a longer tail (12-24 inches) so you will already have yarn ready to sew up the seam.  Make sure you don’t knit with this yarn though!! 🙂 )

3. It is a good idea to cast on with needles that are TWO TIMES bigger than the needle you need to knit the garment.  This ensures that the edge is not too tight.  The trick is to REMEMBER that you need to stop using the larger needles when you finish casting on and change to the smaller needles the pattern recommends.