How to Knit a Scarf
Complete a Knitted Scarf
Imagine having a mindfulness practice that yielded physical results. Each meditation, focusing on one stitch at a time, results in tangible progress. As you grow more comfortable with the basic techniques of knitting, you find yourself getting lost in the simplicity of it. It becomes less about the activity itself and more about achieving a sense of timelessness. When the yarn runs out (or you decide it’s long enough), you have a lovely knitted scarf to wear that will keep you warm and remind you of your hours of meditation. Many crafters describe this relaxing flow state as one of the main reasons for loving their craft.
Knitting is a very accessible hobby to pick up because all you need is some yarn, a set of needles, and a willingness to love the process. While the sheer amount of time it takes to finish a project can be daunting, no matter how long it takes, we never feel like knitting is a waste of time. Even if it took you 30 or 40 hours, when all is said and done, you still have a beautiful knitted scarf, a one-of-a-kind hat, or a unique pair of socks!
How Do You Finish a Scarf?
If you want to get into knitting, scarves are a great place to start. In this article, the Garrett Wade knitting experts will teach you how to start and finish a scarf. We love a knitted scarf project because it only requires three basic techniques:
- Casting On (Starting Your Project)
- The Basic Knit Stitch
- Casting Off (Finishing)
You’ll knit the entire scarf with something called a garter stitch, meaning you will only be using the knit stitch back and forth on the project. The result is a loose, ribbed texture. This project is very simple and requires no pattern, so it’s the perfect thing to make if you’ve never knit before.
Ready to get started? Explore the tools and materials for our knitted scarf project below!
Tools & Materials
Before you start knitting, you will need yarn, straight needles, scissors, and an embroidery needle.
You can choose any type, color, and weight of yarn you want. We recommend a worsted weight (medium weight) wool yarn for this project. You should get about 400 yards to make sure you can finish your knitted scarf completely. If you want to use a heavier, thicker yard for this scarf, you can! You need less yarn, and your project will go faster because you’ll need fewer knitted rows and fewer stitches to achieve the same length. Find the yardage and weight on the label before buying.
Wool technology has come a long way in the past 100 years. Merino wool has exploded in popularity because of its softness, warmth, and versatility. We love Merino wool and suggest this as your first choice because cheaper synthetic yarn isn’t nearly as warm or cozy. Natural fibers are also much more environmentally friendly to produce and will result in a higher quality knitted scarf. When you’re spending so much time and energy on something, saving a few dollars on the materials simply isn’t worth compromising the comfort and quality of the end result!
A great place to find high-quality wool yarn is at your local yarn shop. They’re often independently run and staffed by incredibly kind and knowledgeable people that can answer any questions you might have. Most yarn shops also teach lessons and host knitting clubs if you want to progress further on your knitting journey.
Have you ever browsed knitting needles at your local craft store and seen the huge variation in size and width? This is because your yarn size and your needle size have to match! The yarn label will have the recommended needle size, so you can find the appropriate tools to complete your knitted scarf. With medium-weight wool yarn, the most common needle size is a seven (7).
There are tons of different types of needles out there, including aluminum, plastic, and more! We prefer using Brittany needles because they’re made from sustainably harvested birch and are lightweight yet durable. The heavier your needles, the more difficult it will be to knit for long periods of time. As with the yarn, we recommend starting with high-quality needles because you want them to be light and fun to use. If your needles are clunky or heavy, you won’t enjoy your time knitting. It will be so hard to finish your project that you’ll find yourself asking, “how do you even finish a scarf!”
Scissors & Embroidery Needles
For this project, your scissors and embroidery needles can be any basic pieces you have lying around the house. The quality of these tools probably won’t have any measurable effect on your finished project.
Steps & Instructions
As you follow along with our instructions and photos, please keep in mind that all the photos are ordered sequentially across from top left.
i.Prepare for Your Project: Read the Yarn Label
The label that came on your yarn has lots of important information, such as care and maintenance, fiber contents (what the yarn is made out of), weight, yardage, and gauge. The gauge is what tells you how many stitches will knit an inch using the recommended needle size. Each knitter is different, and depending on your tension, you might find that your stitches aren’t exactly the same size as the gauge listed on the yarn.
Part of the reason a knitted scarf is a great first project is because they are very forgiving when it comes to size. You can estimate your own number of stitches by multiplying the desired width by the gauge on the yarn label. With our recommended yarn gauge and needle size, we’re casting on about 40 stitches, so the scarf will be approximately 8” wide. Make sure to count at least twice to confirm that you have the right number of stitches. In more advanced projects that require a more accurate gauge, it’s helpful to knit a small square gauge swatch before starting the project to actually see how your tension and needle size affect the final stitch.
ii. Cast On
Casting on is the process of adding stitches to your knitted scarf. There are many cast-on methods, but this project will utilize one of the easiest: the long-chain cast-on. With this method you make new stitches from previous stitches and keep adding them to the front of your left needle to form a long chain.
Note: There are two strands of yarn in this step: the working end (attached to your ball of yarn) and the tail (the leftover 6” or so from your first slip knot). It is very important that you make new stitches with the working end and not the tail, or you’ll run out of yarn before you finish casting on.
Follow below to cast on the first stitches of your knitted scarf:
- Make a slip knot and tighten it by pulling on the working end.
- Slip it onto your left needle and pull to tighten.
- Slip your right needle into the front of the first stitch, being careful not to split the stitch.
- Wrap your working end around the right needle from back to front (counterclockwise around the right needle).
- Pull the needle and the new wrapped stitch back through the first stitch.
- With loose tension, slip the new stitch onto your left needle in front of the first stitch.
To cast on all other stitches:
- Stick the right needle underneath the left needle between the two newest stitches.
- Wrap the working end of yarn around the right needles counterclockwise from back to front and pull both back through to the front.
- Add the new stitch to the front of the left needle, as you did with the previous stitch.
- Repeat until you have the correct number of stitches for the gauge of your yarn.
iii. Start Knitting
So how do you finish a scarf? Once you cast on the correct number of stitches, it’s time to knit your first row. Make a new row of stitches on top of the previous stitches by looping a new stitch through each current stitch.
Our guide makes it easy:
- Slip your right needle under the front strand of your first stitch.
- Wrap the working end of your yarn around the right needle from back to front (counterclockwise).
- Pull the needle and wrap the stitch back through the first stitch, transferring the new stitch on your right needle and the previous stitch off your left needle.
- The old stitch is resting on the new stitch and is one row lower.
- Repeat with the next stitch until you reach the end of your row.
- All the stitches from the left needle are now knit over to the right needle.
- Flip your right needle around, making it the new left needle.
- With your working end, knit this next row the same way you knit the previous row.
Keep knitting row after row until you reach the end of your yarn skein. When you reach the end of each skein, simply tie the new end to your old end with a square knot and continue knitting. Don’t worry if it looks messy now. You’ll weave these ends in later.
iv. Cast Off
Once you’ve knitted your scarf to the desired length, it’s time to finish the project. Casting off is simple when you follow these steps:
- Knit the first two stitches as usual, stitch 1 and stitch 2, respectively.
- Take stitch 1 (on your right needle) and bring it up over stitch 2 and off the right needle.
- Knit stitch 3.
- Bring stitch 2 up over stitch 3 and off your right needle.
- Continue until you only have one stitch on your right needle remaining.
- Cut or break your working end yarn so that there is a 6” tail.
- Loosen the final stitch into a loop, removing the right needle.
- Tuck the tail through the loop and pull to tighten the final stitch.
- Weave in all ends and tails throughout your scarf.We weave in our ends with a large needle and sew them from side to side into my project, trying to match the yarn colors. Now, you can try on your newly finished knitted scarf! Take it for a test walk — possibly to the yarn shop to buy more .
Guides with Garrett Wade
So how do you finish a scarf? With patience, dedication, and a little help from the experts!
At Garrett Wade, we’re about more than just proving you heirloom quality tools that help you get the job done! Our team is here with helpful tutorials and guides that take you from the beginning to the end of every project. If you enjoyed this knitted scarf tutorial, explore our other blogs today!