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How to Knit a Scarf: An Illustrated, Step-by-Step Guide

Stacie enjoys writing about the things that interest her most: reading, writing, food, wine, knitting, and living a healthy lifestyle.

A scarf is a great project for beginners.

A scarf is a great project for beginners.

Scarves Are Great for Beginning Knitters

Since learning how to knit, I’ve made a lot of fabulous things, like scarves, hats, and sweaters. I’ve also taught others how to knit—from summer camp counselors to third graders. I have to say that I’m most proud of teaching a stubborn Navy Seal the art of knitting.

Once you get the hang of it, you will quickly become addicted. The click, click sound of knitting will become a constant in your life. When you first learn how to knit, a scarf is a great beginning project. It offers you easy practice, but also leaves you with a handmade scarf to add to your wardrobe.

Gather your supplies before you start.

Gather your supplies before you start.

Gather Your Supplies

I could tell you exactly which products to buy, but that won't be best for you. I choose my knitting needles and yarn based on how they feel. You need to be comfortable with how they feel in your hands. Choose your products carefully and make sure you feel comfortable with them.

  • Yarn: You will want to use worsted weight yarn. When you first begin, you should choose one solid color (later on you can use multiple and variegated colors). Make sure you touch all of the different yarns you like before buying. If you don't like the feel of the yarn, you won't want to knit with it.
  • Needles: Knitting needles are available in many different materials, like metal, plastic, bamboo, resin, and different kinds of wood. I personally prefer wood or bamboo needles, and they are great for beginners. Again, choose something that feels most comfortable to you.
  • Crochet Hook: It is helpful to have a crochet hook for picking up dropped stitches (size H or close).
  • Scissors: You should keep a pair of scissors on hand to cut your yarn. You shouldn't break your yarn by tearing it as this will cause unravelling or stretch it out.
  • Hand Cream: This might seem like an odd material, but it is necessary. Choose an absorbent cream, so it won't end up on your yarn. Wooden needles and the yarn absorb oils from your hands. You need to find a way to keep your hands moisturized while keeping your yarn clean.

Knitting Terminology, Abbreviations, and Symbols

After you learn how to knit, you will need to know the terminology to follow patterns. I won't cover every single knitting term here, but these are the most basic.

  • Cast On (CO): When you cast on you are creating a row of initial stitches on your knitting needle. This is how you begin your project.
  • Knit (K): The knit stitch is the basic knitting stitch.
  • Purl (P): The purl stitch is kind of like the inverse of the knit stitch. You often combine it with the knit stitch in many projects.
  • Right Side: This is the side of the garment that will show when worn.
  • Wrong Side: This side of the garment is the side that will be inside when worn.
  • Right-Hand Side: The side of the work closest to your right hand as you are working on it.
  • Left-Hand Side: The side of the work closest to your left hand as you are working on it.
  • * :The asterisk is used to mark the beginning and end of a portion of instructions that you will do more than once. So, "repeat instructions between *s until end of row" means to repeat the instructions between the asterisks until you get to the end of the row.
  • (): Parentheses enclose instructions which should be worked the exact number of times specified by the number following the parentheses. (Knit 1, purl 1) twice means that you will complete the instructions between the parentheses two times before moving on with the instructions.