Today I’m going to show you how to knit a scarf for beginners. I’ll take you step-by-step through each detail. I’ll discuss knitting supplies, knitting basics, and techniques you’ll need to know.
Most importantly, though, I’ll show you how to knit your own garter stitch scarf.
In this knitting tutorial, I’ll teach you how to knit a worsted weight garter stitch scarf. Plus, I’ll also show you how to create a purl stitch scarf. This way you can choose your own knitting adventure.
Making a simple knit scarf is easier than you think. Ready to get started?
First, let's talk about supplies.
Scarf Knitting Supplies
Tools and Supplies you'll need to knit this garter stitch scarf:
Size U.S. 8 (6 mm) Bamboo Knitting Needles *
Cascade 220 Yarn - 3 yarn hanks (about 500 yards/457 meters) **
Knitting Gauge Tool
Crochet Hook (for fringe)
Stitch Markers - optional ***
* You could also use circular knitting needles to knit this scarf. I recommend this Chiaogoo interchangeable knitting needle set.
** This is a worsted weight yarn (4). The number 4 here indicates the yarn gauge size. It does not mean how many balls of yarn you need. We’ll discuss how much yarn it takes to knit a scarf a little later on as well as yarn alternatives.
*** Stitch markers can be used to help you count your stitches as you work. These knitting notions are super handy to have but not required for this knitting project.
Learn more about the knitting tools you'll need to get started here.
This is not a statement you will hear often:
Gauge is NOT critical to this project.
Some scarf knitting patterns will require you to meet gauge. This simple garter stitch scarf does not. Lucky you!
You don’t need to worry about knitting gauge or knitting a gauge swatch (yet). You don’t even need to know about knitting needle gauge. Today we’re just going to focus on knitting. Please enjoy it.
Now, let's talk about what you need to know to knit this garter stitch scarf.
To make this free knitted scarf pattern, you’ll need to know these basic knitting techniques. Here are a few tutorials on these techniques.
- Making a Slip Knot for Knitting
- How to Long Tail Cast On
- Garter Stitch Knitting
- How to Bind Off Knitting
Since I’ll also be showing you how to knit a purl stitch scarf, it might be useful to know how. This is optional, of course.
Finally, I’m including one last knitting technique that you might find useful. This knitting tutorial will show you:
Garter Stitch Knitting
This easy scarf knitting pattern for beginners knits up entirely in garter stitch. It’s so easy because there’s only one stitch and one row to remember.
This easy knit scarf is an endless repeat of garter stitch. This makes it easy to memorize and allows you to focus on becoming a better knitter.
If you love garter stitch, check out the (free) Arabesque Knit Cowl pattern.
There are several things I love about garter stitch. They are:
- It's a reversible stitch pattern.
- It lays flat and does not curl.
- You can create garter stitch in two ways.
Yes, we’re talking about Knit Stitch vs. Purl Stitch.
Knit Stitch VS Purl Stitch
Knits and purls. These are your two basic knitting stitches.
The image below shows the beginning of a knitted scarf that has been purled. Notice the working yarn is in the front from finishing a row of purling.
As you can see, garter stitch looks the same using knits or purls.
So as we work through these steps, keep in mind that you could make a knit scarf with either stitch. In other words, you could either knit all the rows or purl all the rows.
Regardless of how you do it, you’ll still achieve the same look. Cool, right?
Knit Scarf Width
Before we get to the basic knitting pattern, you’ll want to decide how wide you want your scarf to be. Let’s look at two knit scarf examples in worsted weight yarns.
This multi-color knit scarf is about 4.5” (11.4 cm) wide and knit in a fun variegated yarn.
I just love the colors of the above knitted scarf. It has such a nostalgic feel. It sort of reminds of me of vintage Pac-Man (seen below), at least color wise.
I've been known to gravitate towards 80s colors, just like on this mosaic cowl pattern. They just create a really good mood.
The red knitted scarf was knit in tweed yarn and is about 6.5 inches (17 cm) wide.
These were my very first knitted scarves. They’re a little imperfect but I love them, flaws and all. They were both knit with Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn in acrylic.
Acrylic yarn is a great option if you're trying to keep your yarn costs low or if you're looking for a wool-free yarn. Here are some yarn substitute options that would also work well with this scarf.
Worsted weight (cheap) acrylic yarn alternatives to try:
Caron Simply Soft in Tweed yarn or Multi-Color yarn.
Premier Anti-Pilling Everyday Worsted yarn in solids.
Universal Yarn Uptown Worsted Tapestry in variegated colors.
I show you these scarves to give you some perspective. When it comes to the width of your knitted scarf, it’s a matter of preference.
The average width of a knitted scarf can range from 4.5” (11 cm) wide to 8” (20 cm) wide. Any wider and you cross over into Lenny Kravitz land.
For the easy scarf knitting pattern in this post, I’ll stay within the 5-6 inch range. This is not to say that you can’t go wider - or skinnier!
If you want to go wider, cast on more stitches. If you want to go narrower, cast on fewer stitches. In the end, this is YOUR knitting project. I’m just giving you the tools and instructions to get you started.
Ready for the easy knitting instructions? Here we go!
Easy Scarf Knitting Pattern
Below you'll find the specific knitting instructions for this basic scarf knitting pattern. If you’re not familiar with reading a stitch pattern, this one is easy to do.
I’ll give you the fundamentals of the pattern and we'll discuss them in detail later. Here's the easy scarf knitting pattern:
Garter Stitch Scarf Knitting Pattern (KNIT Version)
Cast On 25 stitches with U.S. size 8 (6 mm) knitting needle.
Row 1: Knit*
*Repeat Row 1 until you've reached desired length.
Garter Stitch Scarf Knitting Pattern (PURL Version)
Cast On 25 stitches with U.S. size 8 (6 mm) knitting needle.
Row 1: Purl*
*Repeat Row 1 until you've reached desired length.
That’s it. Now, we’ll get to what you came here for - learning how to knit a scarf.
How to Start Knitting a Scarf
These are the steps to knit a scarf:
First, you'll need to make a slip knot. The slip knot anchors your knitting to the needle. It also creates a square edge to your project.
Once your slip knot is on your knitting needle, cast on using the long tail cast on method. This stretchy cast on method is the most common and creates a nice, neat edge. Here's another stretchy knitted cast on method.
Now, take the needle with the stitches and move it to your left hand. Begin knitting garter stitch.
As we talked about earlier, you can either knit all the stitches or purl all the stitches. Use whichever method you’re most comfortable with. Just be consistent.
When you come to the end of your first row, the worked stitches will be in your right hand. Then, move this needle back to your left hand. The empty needle will be in your right. Start knitting again.
Take your time and pay attention. You don't want to have to frog your knitting.
Continue working this easy scarf knitting pattern until you’ve reached your desired length.
Now you’re probably asking, well how long should a knitted scarf be? I’m so glad you asked.
Knit Scarf Length
Before you start your easy scarf knitting pattern, you’ll want to decide how long you want your knitted scarf to be. Here’s where a tape measure comes in handy.
Take the tape measure, or a long piece of yarn, and wrap it around your neck. It helps if you’re looking in a mirror.
Imagine you’re wearing the scarf. If you intend to wrap, tuck, or tie, then you may want to adjust your numbers. Doing this will give you a closer estimate to a suitable length.
The average length of a knitted scarf is about 60 inches (152 cm) to 70 inches (178 cm) long. This length is just the scarf itself. Maybe you want to add fringe to your scarf. Factor that in, too.
Another way of looking at determining the scarf's length is by measuring your height. Take that number and subtract one foot (12 in/30.48 cm) from it.
For example, if you’re 5’ 6” (66 in/168 cm), your knitted scarf should measure 54 in/137 cm.
This would allow for you to wrap the scarf around your neck at least once. If you just want your scarf to drape, then you can allow for a shorter length.
This leads us to the important discussion of how much yarn you’ll need.
How Much Yarn Does it Take to Knit a Scarf
How long (or short) you want your scarf to be will play into how much yarn you’ll need.
It’s estimated that worsted weight allows for seven yards per inch of length in knitting. This translates to about 420 yds (384 m) to 490 yds (448 m) of yarn for a 60” (152 cm) to 70” (178 cm) scarf.
Here's the formula for estimating how much yarn it takes to knit a scarf:
FORMULA: 7 yards X inches (length) = total yardage / meterage
|(Example 1): 7 yards X 60 inches = 420 yards / 384 meters|
|(Example 2): 7 yards X 70 inches = 490 yards / 448 meters|
To be safe, purchase enough yarn in the same dye lot # to make sure the yarn matches. Learn more about dye lots and what to look for on a yarn label here.
Might as well grab an extra ball anyway. A little extra yarn never hurt anyone.
Fast forward to your knitted scarf in progress. You've knit to your desired length. Now you just need to finish your knit scarf. Let me explain how.
How to Finish Knitting a Scarf
Before you end a knitted scarf, make sure it’s the length you desire. Grab your tape measure, go to your mirror, and wrap the scarf around your neck.
Are you going to add fringe to the knitted scarf? If so, how much? Factor these amounts in when you measure your scarf length.
If you’re happy with your scarf's length, feel free to bind off. Like the cast on, this is also a stretchy bind off. Remember to keep your stitches loose and natural as you cast off. Be mindful that if you purled your garter stitch scarf, you will need to cast off with purl stitches.
Now, in the next section, I'll teach you how to add knit fringe to your scarf.
How to Add Fringe to a Scarf
Knit fringe always rounds out your knitted piece nicely. Let me show you how to add fringe to a scarf.
First, measure how long you want the fringe to be on the scarf. Let’s say I want the fringe on the scarf to be 3 inches long. Now, double that measurement to create a loop. You’ll need to loop the fringe to attach it to the knitted scarf.
Next, cut lengths of yarn to attach to the scarf. Cut as many or as few as you like.
Then, insert your crochet hook into a loop at one edge of the scarf. Loop the yarn and pull the yarn through.
Take the two tails and insert them into the loop. Gently cinch closed.
That’s it! Repeat until you're happy with the way your fringed scarf looks.
Note: The above image features a slipped stitch edge. You can learn more about how to slip a stitch here and you'll find slip stitch patterns here.
How Long Does it Take to Knit a Scarf
First of all, there's no hard and fast rule on how long it takes to knit a scarf. It often comes down to how much time you can budget in to knit.
Secondly, and most importantly, don’t be discouraged if you make slow progress. The goal is to learn to knit and to create a lovely knitted scarf. Don’t feel pressured. Don’t be hard on yourself.
Be patient. Take your time. Enjoy the process.
Worsted Weight Yarns
Throughout this post, I used various types of worsted weight yarns in different fibers and colors. The above yarn is an acrylic yarn from Hobby Lobby.
The red and green/purple/black scarves shown earlier were also knit in 100% acrylic yarn. The green swatch is a Cascade 220 heathered yarn hank, a wool yarn. The sample used for fringe is a Cascade 220 solid color in beige.
You could also use a superwash yarn instead of 100% wool, or even cotton yarn from a yarn cone. You may use any worsted weight yarn you choose.
This was just to show you how knitting a scarf for beginners doesn’t have to be boring. The sky’s the limit.
I hope you enjoyed learning how to knit a scarf for beginners. Knowing how to garter stitch is just the first step and you did it!
Want more knitting inspirations? Be sure to check out our collection of cowl knitting patterns and cuddly baby blanket patterns.
Before you go, please drop me a note. I love hearing from my readers. Thanks for reading!
Thanks a lot! Funny thing is I’m trying to do the Lenny Kravitz type for somebody 😊
I love it! I imagine it'll be amazingly cozy.
Thanks for dropping me a note! I appreciate it!
I started yesterday giving my niece some knitting skills. Your training is so helpful.
How wonderful! Thank you for your sweet comment, Colleen. I really appreciate it.
I hope your niece learns to love knitting, too! Best of luck!
Hello. I have been a knitter for most of my life. I truly would appreciate the knitting pattern for the blanket. It is fabulous
Hello, Brenda! Which blanket pattern are you speaking of? If you can tell me where you saw it or what it looks like, I'll see if I can help. Thanks!