Mistake Rib (or Man-Stitch): An Easy, Masculine Scarf, Plus Knitting for Men

Man with chunky mistake-rib scarf holding daughterIt's so rugged and burly, I actually just like to call it "man-stitch."

Why? In a chunky yarn this is a perfect stitch for a guy's scarf or sweater, and it's super-easy - but not boring - to knit.

"Man-stitch" actually has a different official name: it's called Mistake Rib or Broken Rib.

Mistake-rib fabric is made in easy 2x2 ribbing, but the secret is to cast on an uneven number of stitches (a multiple of 4 stitches plus 3, to be exact) so that the knit and purl stitches don't line up.

Mistake Rib - Easy Texture Plus Challenges For New Knitters

Mistake-rib swatch in Malabrigo Chunky

Mistake rib is all about texture - the broken columns of knits and purls make the scarf lay flatter and stay more fluid than pure ribbing, but it's still reversible.

This is also a great project for you to practice reading your work and fixing your mistakes - after the pattern I'll give you some tips for what to watch out for.

The bulky man-stitch scarf is one of the projects in my new video e-book for beginners called Intermediate Scarves and Stitches, where we build the right foundation for intermediate knitting by practicing different knit-and-purl combinations, reading your work, and taking out mistakes.

It's great for knitters who've just learned how to knit, so start thinking of those special friends you've taught to knit but for whom you don't have the time to hold their hands all the way through to intermediate Superstardom!

Learn More About Intermediate Scarves and Stitches Here

Knitting For Men: Tone Down The Color, Go For Broke On Fiber

There are two things you must pay attention to when you're knitting for men, especially if you're making a gift.

#1 - Color
Ask him what his favorite color is - who doesn't like stuff in their favorite color?! What, he already has two navy-blue scarves? Perfect. That's how you know he likes 'em.

If your scarf is going to be a surprise, you will be mostly safe sticking to navy blues, greens, and shades of gray (if your guy is a lime-green-and-purple kind of guy, you'll already know it).

#2 - Fiber
Don't scrimp on the yarn quality - make sure it's soft and not itchy. Many men are less accustomed to suffering for fashion than women are - an itchy scarf will live at the back of the drawer no matter how much he loves you.

Use a pure Merino wool, or even cashmere or a cashmere blend if you feel like spoiling him - and your fingers. I'll recommend some of my favorite choices below, but before you buy the yarn, hold it up to your neck to see if it's prickly.

Warning: Alpaca feels soft but can sometimes be secretly prickly. Depending on the company, some alpaca yarn fibers seem to reach out and prickle your neck in the most irritating way. So rub the yarn all over your neck first to check for prickles.

Easy Pattern: Mistake-Rib Scarf In Three Weights

Man-stitch, or mistake-rib scarf pattern

  • 300 yards worsted (aran, bulky-weight) yarn
  • Set of straight knitting needles in the appropriate size for your yarn

Finished Measurements: 5 ½ inches wide by 5-6 feet long
Pattern Notes: Model is shown wearing the Man-Stitch Scarf in bulky-weight yarn.

Pattern Instructions:
CO 27 (23, 19) sts, or any multiple of 4 sts + 3.
Row 1: (K2, P2) across to last st., end P1.
Repeat Row 1 to desired scarf length.
BO in pattern.

Weave in ends. Wear and be manly!

Add This Pattern To Your Queue On Ravelry

My Tips For Yarn Choices

The yarn you choose should depend on how chunky you want the scarf to look, and how much time you want to spend knitting this scarf. The bulky scarf in the pattern photo took about two afternoons to knit - a finer yarn will take longer.

I really recommend Malabrigo for this project because Merino wool is soft and not itchy, and even the "solid" colors have depth and variety.

Semi-solid, kettle-dyed, and heathered or tweed yarns will show off this pattern the best. Self-striping yarns like Noro can be gorgeous in this stitch as well.

Knitting Pitfalls To Watch Out For

The most common mistake on this mistake-rib scarf is knitting or purling more than two stitches at a time. You get in a rhythm and all of a sudden you've knitted 3 or 4 stitches.

The good thing is, you'll know it at the end of your row when you don't end with a P1. If this happens, just take out your knitting one stitch at a time back to the mistake.

Your Opinion?

Have you tried Mistake Rib? Are you going to try it now? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Free Knitting Patterns Mentioned in this Post:

Related Course: Fearless Knitter

Fearless Knitter Cover Knit-and-purl is fine, but greater things await you! Luckily, it is well within your abilities to improve rapidly and start knitting complicated projects. Learn to cast on, purl, rib, choose yarn, fix mistakes, read your work, read patterns, increase, decrease, slip stitches, and more in this fundamental course for beginning knitters.

92 thoughts on “Mistake Rib (or Man-Stitch): An Easy, Masculine Scarf, Plus Knitting for Men”

  1. I’m loving this pattern! Wanted to add two large blocks of a different color on either end of the scarf… Is there a trick to hiding the color change purl bumps on a 2 by 2 reversible rib?

    1. Yes! The trick to hiding color change purl bumps is to work in Stockinette for one row when you change the colors (basically – don’t purl on the RS for one row). I don’t know how good that would look on mistake rib, but it’s worth a try.

      Happy Knitting!

  2. I’m really enjoying knitting this scarf for my 18 year old son. It looks awesome! Do I need to block it when I’m finished? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lanie

      Nope! A textured scarf like this will look great without blocking. I’m so glad you’re enjoying this project! It’s really a classic.


  3. Hi, i am trying to knit for the first time. I am using alpaca wool and its not turning out as per photos ): am i knitting it too loosely or too tight? am i also using the wrong wool?

    1. Hi there! I would love to help you but I don’t have enough information. How is it not turning out? What yarn are you using exactly?

      The yarn I show in these photos is a very thick, bouncy yarn. It’s quite different from alpaca, which is squishy and hairy.

      I recommend you get some smooth, bulky wool yarn. Use the size needles recommended on the yarn label. Try to make a swatch and see if it comes out better.

      I also have a video course that has many videos on how to do Mistake Rib plus how to fix every mistake that there is. It’s perfect for adventurous beginners like you. Check it out here: Beginner Superstar Knitting Course.


    I love your Mistake rib pattern. I am about half through a scarf for my brother who
    had to move from Dallas to Illinois due to circumstances changing in his life. He hates the cold, and it is COLD in Ill., while Dallas was Warm. He is 76 years old and in poor health, having a six ( 6) way heart bi-pass a couple of years ago. Could really use your help in figuring out the decreases especially. Thanks Fran

    1. El Edwards - Customer Happiness

      Welcome to KnitFreedom Fran! So kind of you to take such lovely care of your brother :-) I’ll ask Liat what she recommends but, in the meantime, have you tried posting in our support forum on Ravelry? You might get a more speedy answer :-)

  5. Absolutely love the pattern. It’s very easy to do and knits up beautifully. I am using a worsted weight yarn in a brown camo colour. My next one will be in red for me! Thank you very much!

  6. Hey there,

    I love the pattern on the blue swatch you have pictured here and I’ve started the scarf. I’m brand new to knitting and whatever I’m making does not look like that swatch lol. Here’s what I’ve been doing, please correct me if I’m wrong!

    Your pattern says to cast on any multi of 4 + 3 stitches, so I’m doing 19 stitches in total.

    I’ve casted on 19 stitches and each row is knit 2, purl 2 of the 18 stitches and then I purl the 19th. I believe that is what (K2, P2) across to last st., end P1 means. And because of the uneven number of stitches, my last 2 (18 and 19) end up as a k1 and a p1.

    So far mine just looks like a bumpy mess; it does not have those nice smooth sections separated by those nice ribs (like the blue swatch).

    Any help would be wonderful!

    Jay Kay

    1. El Edwards - Customer Happiness

      Hi Jay Kay :)
      Welcome to KnitFreedom and congratulations on giving this a go :) I’m going to ask Liat and see what she suggests to best help you.

    2. Hi Jay,

      I read over what you are doing and it sounds exactly right to me! But clearly something is not coming out right. I actually spend a lot of time teaching people how to recognize their stitches and understand what’s happening on Mistake Rib, because it’s not as easy to do as it is to talk about.

      I recommend you check out my video ebook Beginner Superstar – there is a whole section of troubleshooting videos on Mistake Rib and it will help you a lot. And believe me, if you can really get a handle on what’s going on in your knitting at this point, you will be unstoppable as you go forward.

      The other suggestion I have for you is to say aloud the stitches as you are doing them, and review my video on Recognizing a Knit and a Purl Stitch.

      I hope this helps!

  7. I would like to make a child’s hat using the mistake rib, while knitting in the round.
    suggestions about how to do that?

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