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

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

Liat Gat - Founder

September 7, 2012

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. Mistake Rib is a great pattern for beginners to practice recognizing knit and purl stitches.

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 2×2 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 Fearless Knitter, 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 Fearless Knitter 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!

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Stop making these common mistakes and knit with confidence

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

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  1. Hey Liat!
    I actually had a friend tell me about the mistake rib scarf several years ago before I joined here. I used the stitch to make my former supervisor a long scarf in an emerald green color. It was really pretty when I finished it. She lives in Chicago and she loved it.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.


  4. 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 :-)

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

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

  9. Where you fifty years ago when I could have learned so much. What a great way to introduce the skills of knitting from the basics on. I will be a part of this learning process even ‘tho I am in mid eighties and have been knitting really, really basic stuff. Thanks for being so generous.

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Do a little swatch and see! Just cast on 27 stitches and start knitting and see if you like the way it looks and feels. Then, see how wide it is! You can make it as wide as you want, just remember to cast on a multiple of 4 stitches + 3.

  10. I have knit this scarf for myself and several friends. I enjoy it most in the big bulky weight yarns. I have knit it for some female friends in the worsted weight and they really like their scarfs. Thank you for a great, engaging, and nonboring pattern.

  11. Hey Liat,
    I’m planning to make this scarf with malabrigo chunky yarn, and was wondering how many balls to buy. Do you think two would be enough?
    Thanks so much for the pattern :)


    1. Hi Tiffany,

      Cool! I’m glad you’re going to try this scarf.

      To figure out how many balls of yarn to buy, look at the Materials section to see that the pattern calls for 300 yards of bulky yarn.

      Then, look up Malabrigo Chunky on the Malabrigo website or Ravelry. You’ll see that Malabrigo Chunky has 104 yards of yarn in each skein.

      By doing the math you’ll see that you’ll need 3 balls of Malabrigo Chunky to make the scarf. I hope this helps!


  13. There’s a variation on this pattern which is also quite warm and suitable for either a man or woman. I knit it in a variegated worsted wool.

    Cast on a number of stitches divisible by four plus two more (e.g. 26):

    Row 1: *knit 2, knit into the back of the next stitch, purl 1. Repeat from * till there are 2 stitches left. Knit 2.

  14. I have just started in on this pattern using Rico fashion Highland Chunky in a charcoal grey. It will be a perfect “manly scarf” for my husband who only wears black because he hasn’t found a darker colour!

  15. Have knitted several scarf and fingerless gloves using mistake rib.
    Currently knitting one in double chunky for a man’s 60th birthday. Do you have a good hat pattern using this stitch, please?

  16. What a perfect gift for my husband. He is a farmer and seems to always get tools. I northern Minnesota he often has to be outside in sub-zero weather, so layers a lot. It should have it done by Christmas. I just gave him a quilt I started 7 years ago. He won’t have to wait for this.
    I’m going to Boston next week. Know any good yarn shops. He loves wool.

    Thanks for all of your information. I can finally back track on my work, pick up stitches and feel I can recognize mistakes. You really got me back into knitting.

  17. just got back from LYS with chunky weight wool yarn and can’t wait to cast on!!! My yarn stash is full of fingering and lace weight yarn and I wanted to change things up with a quick project before going back to fine gauge work.

    Your comments that this stitch will lay flatter, still allows for a fluid drape as well as being reversible all contributed to my decision to choose this pattern.


  18. I think other web site proprietors should take this site as an model, very clean and magnificent user genial style and design, let alone the content. You are an expert in this topic!

  19. Hi Liat!

    Is it true that Broken Rib and Mistake Rib aren’t the same stitch? Barbara Walker has Broken Rib listed as something completely different-looking, but I’m wondering if maybe this is a “mistake”? In any case, it’s confusing, since they certainly SOUND like they should be the same!

    Thanks again for the awesome scarf – it’s been a HUGE hit!


    1. Hm… I’ve always thought that they are the same stitch. That’s what I learned while working at my LYS… maybe I need to look into this. Thanks! And I’m so glad the scarf’s been a hit – it’s a classic – never fails!

  20. Perfect timing, Liat!! I have a friend who owns an alpaca farm, and she’s asked me make some things from their fiber for a craft show. I’ve used the Broken Rib pattern before for dishcloths but wouldn’t have considered it for a masculine scarf if I hadn’t seen your email. Margaret will be tickled to have some manly products to sell for a change. :)

  21. I’ve made many of these and like each one better than the last! Last year was the gaptastic year, this is the mistake rib year for gift giving!! I’ve seen some of these with a crochet shell stitch at each end and that looks really pretty for the girl scarves so I’m going to give that a try next.

  22. Hi Liat,
    I’m going to start right now. My cousin asked for one scarf for his birthday and I’m late. The thing is he’s allergic to everything… then I must use acrylic. I already gave him one gray and one blue, both extremely simple. Just ribbing. This one will be brown.

  23. I’m doing a sweater that calls for the Broken Rib – purl1, knit1. I did almost 3 rows of 113 cast on’s and then noticed a mistake. I went to fix it but lost the stitches all the way down to the cast on. Do I have to start all over again?

  24. I’ve used mistake rib on 2 different scarves now. One is a Kureyon yarn on size 10needles and the other is baby llama on size 15 needles. They look totally different! The color, weight of the yarn and needle size made them the same stitch and pattern, but you can’t tell because they knit up so differently!

  25. I’ve used mistake rib on 2 different scarves now. One is a Kureyon weight yarn on size 10needles and the other is baby llama on size 15 needles. They look totally different! The color, weight of the yarn and needle size made them the same stitch and pattern, but you can’t tell because they knit up so differently!

  26. I saw a beautiful chunky yarn at the shop recently – this is the perfect pattern for it and now I can go back and buy it! Thank you!

  27. i love the mistake rib pattern because it is so mindless and easy. the last time i used this pattern was for a playing card case. i made to hold the deck of vintage hockey players for last fathers day. i just may have to make a scarf with this pattern as well.

  28. I would very much like to try this but have no idea what size needles to use I will use chunky wool!!
    Thanks for sharing !!

  29. I love the look of this pattern. I will definitely be trying it. Thanks for all your tips and patterns….they are very useful and appreciated!

  30. I’ve never tried a Mistake Rib pattern, but you make it sound so easy I’m going to try this one. Thank you so much for all your great tips!

  31. I am currently knitting a “broken rib” pattern which I am assuming is the same or similar pattern. I am using Homespun by Lion Brand, which is very soft with a lot of
    texture. I have completed the back section and it is working up very nicely. If a mistake is make, it is hard to tell.

  32. I am working on a scarf for my son right now in this very pattern! I am using Encore black and orange yarn in Cincinnati Bengals colors!!

  33. I’ve been knitting for about 10 years and I’ve never heard of this ‘mistake rib’. But….I’m going to try it because I love textures and the patterns they create. Even simple patterns can be so lovely if paired with great yarn. Thanks.

  34. I have used this pattern several times over the years, but knew it as Broken Rib.
    I find that it is very useful for scarves and anything that needs to sit reasonably flat. My favourite point of this pattern is that it looks the same on both sides.

  35. Yes, I plan to try your Mistake-Rib pattern. However, I am not fond of working with bulky yarn, so I will experiment and use double strands of worsted instead and see how that works.

    1. The nice thing is that Mistake Rib looks good even in very thin yarn. It will come out more drapey and feminine if you use a thin yarn and slightly large needles. I would even make this scarf for a man with lace-weight yarn held double – it would be gorgeous and smooshy!

      1. Jacquelyn Moran

        Hi Liat!
        I am planning to knit a scarf for my son using lace weight yarn (possibly Malabrigo Baby Silkpaca) as he would like a “thinner” weight scarf than what I usually make for him. I read your comment about using the lace yarn doubled and loved your comment about it making a smooshy scarf….just what I want. My question is what size needles would you suggest? Also would this Mistake Rib pattern work well with a scarf worked lengthwise rather than back and forth?

        Thanks for a great and easy pattern!
        JB Moran

  36. I’ve tried and had to rip out twice (once when I was half-way done) a scarf I was making for my son. I think your Mistake-Rib might be just the answer, and plan to start on it sometime this weekend.

  37. I have made this scarf – made several last fall for sale at Christmas. People had asked for something more “guy-friendly” and this is IT! Fast & easy too, great as a take along or tv companion.

    1. Sandy, it’s great to know that you’ve had good results using this stitch pattern for guys. Ah, all these comments are making me want to rent a movie and knit a man-stitch scarf right now!

  38. Can’t wait to try it – I’m coming off three (count ’em – 3!) Fisherman Knits, and I think this will be a great interim project!!!
    Thanks for this one, Liat!

  39. A mistake rib scarf was the first thing I knit when I took up the needles again after 35 years. All I could remember was knitting and casting off, and the patient ladies at my LYS taught me a long-tail cast-on and to purl. This was a great first project and I highly recommend it for new knitters.

    1. Lois, you can use this stitch pattern on most any men’s sweater, but know that it’s going to be stretchier than plain Stockinette stitch. It will be quite chunky and deliciously warm! You just have to make sure that you use a multiple of 4 stitches plus 3, and that the sweater is knit back-and-forth.

  40. A perfect scarf for mt SIL…he is very tall, 6’6″ and a commercial artist by trade…he will really love structure of this scarf. As soon as I can knit again, this is third in line!

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