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How to Knit a Scarf for Beginners + Free Pattern

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If you’re new to knitting, this step-by-step guide will teach you how to knit a scarf. This free chunky knit scarf pattern is an easy knitting project that is perfect for beginners. 

a long garter stitch scarf displayed on a beige wooden dress form

How to Knit a Scarf

If you’ve ever wanted to knit a scarf, you’re in the right place. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to make an entire scarf from start to finish, even if you’re brand new to knitting. 

We’ll walk you through the basic supplies, teach you simple knitting techniques, and provide helpful tips and tricks to ensure that your scarf comes out perfectly!

Can a beginner knit a scarf?

Yes! Knitting a scarf is an excellent project for new knitters. It requires minimal supplies, basic knitting stitches, and can be completed relatively quickly.

Who is this guide intended for

This guide is designed for beginners. So don’t worry if you don’t know your knits from your purls yet – we’ll explain everything you need to know.

Prefer the PDF version?

Grab the ad-free, printable PDF pattern. Download and print at home, or view on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

photo collage of knit scarf pattern displayed on tablet and smartphone
a skein of gray yarn, two wooden knitting needles, and a tapestry needle on a gray background

Step 1: Supplies You’ll Need

You’ll only need a few basic materials to knit your first scarf.

  • Yarn: There are lots of options when it comes to yarn. But for this project, we recommend using a bulky or super bulky weight yarn. (We’ll give you some more tips for choosing yarn in the next section.)
  • Needles: You will need one pair of knitting needles in the appropriate size for the yarn you’re using. We recommend using wooden or bamboo straight needles for this project, since they’re less slippery than metal needles.
  • Tapestry Needle: This is a large eye needle that you’ll use to weave in your yarn tails at the end of your project.
  • Scissors: Any sharp pair will do.
  • Measuring tape, ruler, or gauge ruler

Tips for Choosing Yarn

The type of yarn you use will determine how your finished scarf looks – and how quickly it works up.

When shopping, look for a yarn with these qualities:

  • Smooth texture. Not too lumpy, not too fuzzy, not “thick and thin.”
  • Solid Color. This will make it easier for you to see your individual stitches.
  • Bulky or Super Bulky yarn weight. For your first scarf, I recommend knitting with a bulky or super bulky weight yarn. These thicker yarns are great for learning the basic stitches and will help you get to the finish line relatively quickly. Check the yarn label for these words, or look for the Category 5 or Category 6 yarn weight symbols.
  • Softness. Choose a yarn that feels nice on your skin. You don’t want to end up with an itchy scarf!
  • Fiber Content. Check the yarn label to see what the yarn is made from, and how to wash it. Acrylic, wool, or acrylic-wool blends can all work for this project. 

For the free pattern in this article, we’ll be using a Bulky (Category 5) yarn from Lion Brand called Hue + Me.

Tips for Choosing Needles

Knitting needles come in a whole range of sizes to suit different yarn weights. Thicker yarns usually require larger needles, and thinner yarns require smaller needles. 

Check your yarn label to see what size needles you should use. For example, bulky weight yarns usually call for size US 9 – 11 knitting needles. And super-bulky weight yarns usually call for size US 11 to 17 needles.

For the free pattern in this article, we’ll be using size US 10.5 (6.5 mm) straight knitting needles.

Step 2: Choosing a Pattern for Your First Scarf

Now that you have chosen your yarn and needles, it is time to select a pattern for your first scarf. If you are a beginner, we recommend choosing a simple pattern for a rectangular scarf. Here is a list of some of our favorite easy scarf patterns.

Keep scrolling for the free pattern that will teach you how to knit a simple garter stitch scarf. It’s as simple as it gets, but it will still look beautiful when finished!

two hands holding one knitting needles casting on gray yarn
long tail cast-on technique

Step 3: The Basic Knitting Techniques

Scarves are an excellent project for beginners because they require just a few basic knitting techniques. You’ll need to know the following three skills to complete your scarf:

Casting on: This technique creates the foundation for your project. We’ll use the long-tail cast-on method for this project. For more information, check out these articles: How to Cast On in Knitting and How to Do the Long Tail Cast On in Knitting.

Knit Stitch: This is the most basic knitting stitch. To make a knit stitch, insert your right needle into the first loop on the left needle from front to back, wrap yarn around the right needle, and pull it through. For an even more detailed breakdown of the knit stitch, check out this tutorial: How to Knit the Knit Stitch.

Binding Off: Once you’ve finished knitting your scarf, this technique will secure all of the work that you’ve done. For a more detailed description of casting off, be sure to read: How to Bind Off in Knitting.

a long garter stitch swatch on one knitting needle on a gray background

Garter Stitch Scarf Pattern

Now that you know how to do the basic knitting techniques, it’s time to start making your scarf. The following pattern will show you how to make a garter stitch scarf.

Skill Level

Beginner – Easy

Finished Size

8″ by 72″ (20 cm by 183cm)

If you’d like a wider scarf, cast on a few more stitches. If you’d like a longer scarf, knit more rows before binding off.

Gauge 

11 sts and 20 rows = 4″ x 4″ in garter stitch

Materials

Yarn: 3 skeins Lion Brand Hue + Me (4.4 oz/ 125g) in Ozone  

Needles: Size 10.5 (6.5 mm) needles

Notions:

  • tapestry needle
  • scissors
  • ruler or tape measure

Pattern Notes

The pattern is worked flat, back and forth in rows.

If you want your scarf to come out the same size as ours, you’ll want to check your gauge. To learn how to make and measure a gauge swatch, read our Making a Gauge Swatch

Prefer the PDF version?

Grab the ad-free, printable PDF pattern. Download and print at home, or view on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

photo collage of knit scarf pattern displayed on tablet and smartphone

Instructions

two wooden knitting needles on a gray background

Cast On

Cast on 24 stitches using the Long Tail Cast-On.

Knitting the Scarf

Row 1: Slip the first stitch purlwise with yarn held in front. Knit the remaining 23 stitches across. Turn your work.

Slipping the first stitch creates a really pretty braided edge for the scarf. Here’s how to “slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front“:

  1. Hold the working yarn to the front of the work.
  2. Insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle from right to left – as if you were going to purl, aka “purlwise.”
  3. Then, transfer the stitch from the left need to the right needle without knitting it.

After slipping the stitch, move the yarn between the two needles to the back of the work. Now, the yarn is in the right position to knit the next stitch.

Repeat Row 1 until the piece measures 72″ ( 183 cm) from the cast-on edge, or your desired length.

a garter stitch scarf and two wooden knitting needles on a light gray background

Binding Off

Bind off all stitches. When 1 stitch remains on your right-hand needle, cut the yarn leaving a 6″ (15 cm) tail, and pull the tail through the loop. Weave in the ends using a tapestry needle.

a tapestry needle threaded with gray yarn tails ready to weave in the ends on a garter stitch scarf

Finishing

To block your scarf:

  1. Soak your scarf in water for 20 minutes.
  2. Lay flat and pin to measurements.
  3. Allow to air dry completely.

Variations on this Pattern

Now that the scarf is complete, you can wear it as is or customize it to suit your style.

  • Seaming to Make an Infinity Scarf: If you’d like to make an infinity-style scarf, you can sew the two short edges together with a mattress stitch. This will create a long loop of fabric that you can wear as an infinity scarf or cowl.
  • Adding Fringe: It’s also really easy to add fringe to the ends of your scarf.  Cut 12″ lengths of yarn, and use a crochet hook to loop them through the two short edges of the scarf.

Adapting this Pattern for Super Bulky Yarn

You can easily swap out the bulky yarn for an even thicker, super-bulky yarn like Lion Brand Thick and Quick. If you use super bulky yarn, your scarf will work up even faster.

If you want to use super bulky (Category 6) for this pattern, you’ll need to adjust the size of your knitting needles and the number of stitches in each row.  

  • Use US size #13 (9mm) knitting needles
  • Gauge: 8 stitches = 4″ in garter stitch
  • Cast on 18 stitches.

Then, simply follow the rest of the directions as written.

a gray chunky garter sttich scarf on a beige dress from

Scarf Knitting FAQs

Here are some common questions and answers about how to knit a scarf.

How many skeins of yarn do you need to knit a scarf?

The amount of yarn you’ll need to knit a scarf will depend on the size and thickness of the scarf, as well as the type of yarn used. As a general rule, most scarves require at least 2-3 skeins of yarn.

The pattern we’ll be following requires 3 skeins of Lion Brand Hue + Me.

How much time does it take for a beginner to knit a scarf?  

It will take several hours to knit this scarf. If you work at a moderate pace, estimate 6-8 hours. If you are a beginner, it may take longer.

If you need to know for sure, you can time yourself and see how long it takes to knit 6″, then multiply that by 12 to see how long the whole scarf will take.

How many stitches do you need for a scarf?

The number of stitches you need depends on the pattern, the yarn weight, and the desired width of the scarf. 

In this pattern, we’ll work 24 stitches per row for a finished width of 8″.

How can I make this scarf a different size?

To make the scarf thinner, cast on a smaller number of stitches. Likewise, to make it thicker, cast on a larger number of stitches. To make it shorter, knit a smaller number of rows. To make it longer, knit more rows before binding off.

a long garter stitch swatch on one knitting needle on a gray background

How to Knit a Scarf

Yield: 1
Active Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours
Difficulty: Easy

If you’ve ever wanted to knit a scarf, you’re in the right place. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to make an entire scarf from start to finish, even if you’re brand new to knitting.

Materials

  • 3 skeins Lion Brand Hue + Me (4.4 oz/ 125g) in Ozone

Tools

  • Size 10.5 (6.5 mm) knitting needles
  • tapestry needle
  • scissors
  • ruler or tape measure

Instructions

  1. Cast on 24 stitches using the Long Tail Cast-On. two hands holding one knitting needles casting on gray yarn
  2. Row 1: Slip the first stitch purlwise with yarn held in front. Knit the remaining 23 stitches across. Turn your work. slipping the first stitch from the left needle to the right knitting needle
  3. Repeat Row 1 until the piece measures 72″ ( 183 cm) from the cast-on edge, about rows. a long garter stitch swatch on one knitting needle on a gray background
  4. Bind off all stitches. When 1 stitch remains on your right-hand needle, cut the yarn leaving a 6″ (15 cm) tail, and pull the tail through the loop. Weave in the ends using a tapestry needle. a garter stitch scarf and two wooden knitting needles on a light gray background

Notes

The pattern is worked flat, back and forth in rows.

If you want your scarf to come out the same size as ours, you’ll want to check your gauge. To learn how to make and measure a gauge swatch, read our Making a Gauge Swatch

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Looking for more Knitting Tutorials?

Check out these other posts for your next knitting project:

pinterest image with a photo background of a gray scarf on a dress form

What’s Next?

Pin this post: Save this tutorial to your Pinterest boards so that you can come back to it later.

Leave a comment: We love to hear your feedback. Tell me in the comments below!

Share on Instagram or Facebook: When you make this project, share it on social media and tag me @sarahmaker_. We love to see what you make!

Have questions? Join the Facebook Group!

We hope this article was useful for you! If you have any additional questions, feel free to join my Facebook Group. We created this group for you to share pictures, ask questions, and help each other out.

AB

Friday 22nd of September 2023

Do you do the purl-wise stitch at the beginning of every row?

Sarah Stearns

Saturday 23rd of September 2023

Yes, you'll slip the first stitch purlwise at the beginning of each row.

Bekah

Tuesday 28th of February 2023

I love the way she simplifies the notes for anyone to understand them after includes the pictures. Making it easy to make, revise and revisit in case of any mistake.

Nadine

Tuesday 28th of February 2023

Easy as Sunday mornings.

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