Christmas is coming and all the sane crafters have already knit, crocheted, sewn, or taxidermied a little somethin somethin for each of their loved ones. However, those of us who hover near “batshit crazy” in the Great Sanity Scale of Life still have some work left to do.
Last year, during my holiday rush to finish Christmas gifts, I decided to knit a ribbed scarf for my stepmom. Who doesn’t like a nice ribbed scarf? Crazy people, that’s who. Unfortunately, the generic knit 2 purl 2 ribbed scarf pattern I’ve used before can take forever and a day when you knit it on needles that aren’t massive. To speed up the process, I tweaked the pattern. My tweaked pattern is below. You’ll have to either suffer through more of my blathering or go through the trouble of scrolling down to find it. Just, please, don’t leave. Um, do I sound desperate? I probably need to work on that…
The end result was a warm, sturdy scarf that didn’t take a lifetime to finish. I liked it so much that I made myself one! Here’s mine:
I didn’t take a picture of my stepmom’s scarf before I gave it to her. I’m a dummy.
The ribbed pattern basically creates two layers in one because the knit/purl stitches poke out on opposite sides of the fabric. (Knit stitches to the back, purl stitches to the front.) Knitted ribbing is like fitting triangles together and, instead of making them all face one way, you alternate which direction they face. This makes the fabric “suck in” the way some of us do with our bellies.
Pictured: the opposite of “sucking in.” When I do this with my tummy, it’s not pretty.
That’s why thirty stitches of ribbing is skinnier side-to-side than thirty stitches of just knits or purls, all while making the fabric thicker. Was that confusing? Words kill me sometimes, so here’s my sophisticated diagram of alternating triangles.
I’m a born teacher. Obviously.
Since my stepmom hails from super windy Oklahoma, I wanted to make her a scarf that was extra warm for when she visits her family. So, I felt that a ribbed scarf was the way to go. However, I had already made two ribbed scarves with the knit 2 purl 2 pattern – on size 8 needles, like the fool I am – and they both took a lot of work. They are downright scrumptious, but I knew that finishing another like them before Christmas wasn’t gonna happen if I wanted to finish the other gifts on my list. (Or sleep.) That’s why I decided to knit two strands of yarn held together and use bigger needles.
Pictured: the start of a beautiful friendship.
Luckily, the blue ribbed scarf wasn’t a flop. I made my own, too, and I finished weaving in the ends today. Quite fortuitous, considering it’s freaking cold in Mississippi right now! It’s also super windy in my neck of the woods (funny wordplay because I don’t live in the woods – ha!), and my poor neck and ears need some fancy shmancy scarf lovin’. That’s a lot of talk about necks. Here, I posed while wearing it:
I am a sexy knitting ninja. (Two truths and a lie, anyone?)
Okay. You probably want the stupid pattern by this point, don’t you?
Katy Bug’s Rad Ribbed Scarf
- two skeins (6 oz/315 yards each) of Caron Simply Soft. For my stepmom’s scarf, I used the color Celestial. For mine, I used Vanilla. You could get fancy and use two different colors, or get really fancy and use one solid color with an ombre or Simply Soft Paints.*
- Size 10.5 (6.5 mm) needles. To make the scarf a little more pliable and less sturdy, feel free to use size 11 needles or whatever you are most comfortable with.
- Large darning needle for weaving in yarn tails.
Gauge: not very important, but mine was about 21 stitches and 20 rows per 4 inches.
- Holding two strands of yarn together, cast on thirty stitches. If you’ve never done this, just treat the two strands together as one fat strand of yarn. Free your mind of “two” because you’re knitting with one strand now, baby. Listen to “2 Become 1” if it helps.
- Row one: Knit 1, purl 1 across all thirty stitches. You should end with a purl stitch.** Tip: this might go faster if you use a circular needle instead of straight needles. Besides being quicker, I find that circs are easier to maneuver and don’t irritate my tennis elbow, so I really should’ve used them instead of straight needles.
- Repeat row one until you reach the desired length, or until you run out of yarn. I used almost all of the yarn for my scarf, and the scarf is long enough to wrap around my neck twice. I love it.
Hey! A semi-normal picture of me! Who expected that?
Finishing: Bind off in pattern. I learned a particular method from the fantastic book by Debbie Stoller called Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook, and I recommend you use it. This is how to do it:
- Knit first stitch. (One stitch on right needle.)
- Purl second stitch. (Two stitches on right needle.)
- Since the second stitch is a purl stitch, pick up the back of the first stitch and slip it over the second stitch. (One stitch on right needle.) This will bring the purl bump to the front of your bind off row, matching the rest of the scarf.
- Knit a stitch. (Two stitches on right needle.)
- Since the second stitch on your right needle is now a knit stitch, pick up the front of the first stitch and slip it over the second stitch. (One stitch on right needle.)
- Continue across the row.
Now weave in all yarn tails and block. I followed the guide “Weaving in Your Ends” on purlbee.com. If you go to that link, scroll to the bottom and you’ll find the directions for rib knitting. As for blocking, I haven’t blocked mine because I’m lazy, but it would probably be a good idea in the long run. By the way, yes, you can block acrylic yarn!
And there you have it! A warm ribbed scarf that doesn’t take a million years to finish. If you make one using this pattern, let me know in the comments! I’d love to see pictures of them, too. Bonus points for sexy knitting ninja pictures.
Time for some shameless self promotion! If you like shirts with goofy statements on them about knitting, you should check out the one I designed on Zazzle.
*You could probably use another yarn with similar weight. Personally, I plan to make this scarf with Cascade 220 Superwash wool, which is my favorite wool yarn.
**I’ve heard that ending the row with a knit stitch makes for neater edges. If you want to test that out with a purl 1, knit 1 pattern across each row, be my guest! Just be sure to alter your bind off row accordingly, as well. When I make another one of these scarves – rest assured that I will one day – I may try this variation. Hopefully I’ll remember to blog about my results.