Knit Your Beginner Scarf
Get Your Yarn Ready
When you come home, fish around in the inside of the ball of yarn, to find the end. Pulling the yarn from the middle of the ball will prevent the ball of yarn from rolling all around the foor as you knit (to the great disappointment of your cat).
If you pull out a ton of yarn, wrap the extra around the ball of yarn for now. If you remove the yarn label, keep it. You can put it in a special folder or zip-top bag for yarn labels, or even store the information digitally on Ravelry (the site that you really should know about anyway).
This just ensures that you’ll know what you bought in case you want more, and is a habit that will save you from grief for years.
Optional: Prepare Your Fringe
If you’d like to add fringe to your scarf, make sure to cut it ahead of time. To do so:
Cut 30 strands of yarn, each two feet long, and set them aside for later.
Learn to Cast On
Knitted items are built out of stitches, in the same way that a brick wall is made out of bricks: by stacking them up in rows. However, a knitted “wall” is incredibly simple: each brick, or stitch, is stacked directly on top of the previous one.
You must start your scarf by laying a foundation of stitches, which is called “casting on.” Here’s the easiest way to cast on – it’s called a backwards-loop cast-on. Grab your yarn and one needle, and practice casting on along with the video.
Tension Your Yarn
You’ll be holding both needles as well as manipulating a strand of yarn (called tensioning) – here’s how to do this comfortably and correctly.
The Knit Stitch
The knit stitch is the only stitch you will be using during this project. It’s the simplest way to “stack” one stitch on top of another. Ready? Here’s how to do it:
The knit stitch has four parts that must be repeated over and over. Here’s a rhyme you can say to yourself as you practice the parts so you don’t forget any of them:
- In the front door,
- Around the back,
- Out the window,
- And off jumps Jack.
Tips and Tricks
Here are some more tips for getting comfortable and knitting correctly. As you work across your second row, watch this video.
Knit Until You Run Out Of Yarn
Each time you knit across all the stitches on your needle, that counts as one row.
Once you finish your first row, turn your work, or switch the needles in your hands, so that the needle with the stitches on it is in your left and, and you hold an empty needle in your right.
Making sure the yarn is behind your knitting, and the knots are facing down, begin again. Knit all the way across the second row. Then, do it again.
In pattern-speak, this is abbreviated “K,” as in “K every row” or “K every st” or even “K all sts.”
As you practice, watch out for the common mistakes that I demonstrate below.
Troubleshooting Beginner Mistakes
The most common thing that happens on your first scarf is that you mess up on the first stitch – there are two things that could cause you to make an extra loop, which will make your scarf grow gradually wider as you go.
Not good. Here’s how to catch both kinds of mistakes.
Switch To Your Second Ball Of Yarn
Continue knitting every row until you have almost run out of yarn from the first ball.
You’ll want to leave six inches of the yarn hanging so you can secure the end later, and you’ll want to switch to the new ball of yarn while you are at one side of the scarf.
So, at the end of a row, and with at least six inches of yarn left (this is called the tail), grab your second ball of yarn. Fish out the end from inside the ball, as before, and, leaving a six-inch tail, join the new yarn by simply using it to knit instead of the old ball.
Here’s a video showing how to do that.
If the ends seems a bit loose, you can tie them in a square knot to keep them snug for now.
Once you’re done knitting, you’ll come back and weave the ends in so that they don’t go anywhere. Keep on knitting until you run out of yarn, again. You should be getting very comfortable with knitting by now.
There are so many cool things you can learn to make, now that you can do this very basic stitch. So let’s finish this scarf. This time, stop knitting at the end of a row and leave a foot and a half of tail.
It’s time to do the last row, called a bind-of, which will secure the stitches and get them off your needle so you can wear the scarf.
Here’s how to bind off your scarf.
To practice a bit more pattern-reading, here’s what I have demonstrated in the video, written in knitting abbreviations:
K2, pass 2nd st over 1st stitch, *(k1, pass 2nd st over 1st st), rep from * to end of row.
Cut yarn, leaving a six-inch tail, pull tail through last st. Pull yarn tight.
Weave In Ends
You will have 4 tails of yarn hanging of your scarf – one from your cast-on, two where you switched balls of yarn, and one where you bound off.
Using your tapestry needle, follow along the video to disguise your tails invisibly and securely.
Question: Can’t I just tie a knot and cut the ends? Answer: No.
Oh, you want more than that? Okay, yarn can be slippery. Knots come undone – weaving doesn’t. If you don’t want your scarf to unravel in the wash or after years of wearing, just weave in your ends.
Optional – Add Fringe
If you are going to add fringe, it’s time.
1. Fold your strands of fringe in half
2. Using your crochet hook or just your fingers, pull the yarn where it is folded in half through a stitch at the edge of your scarf.
3. Insert your fingers through the loop of yarn and pull the ends of the strand through the loop and tighten.
Repeat to attach 15 strands evenly along each of the short edges of your scarf. Here’s a video, of course.
When you are done, trim the fringe so the edges are even. You’re all done!