Sometimes it can seem daunting to learn something new, so let’s take it one step at a time, and knit a simple scarf together. Be sure to click the links for detailed tutorials illustrating each individual technique.
While this tutorial looks specifically at the Wheat Scarf, all of the techniques apply to our free blanket pattern, Malt, as well. Get your free Wheat scarf pattern here.
Let’s knit a scarf in 4 easy steps
Gather your materials
Not sure how to read the materials section of a knitting pattern? Check out our pattern reading tutorial here.
Your Local Yarn Shop (LYS): the best place to begin
If you are lucky enough to have a yarn shop near you it can be a wonderful resource. The LYS often has friendly and helpful staff, classes you can take, or knit nights when you can drop in. While it is a faux pas to assume the staff can give you a knitting lesson on the spot, they can often help with smaller issues, point you in the right direction, and they can certainly help you choose your project materials. Bring your pattern with you and they can set you up with everything you need!
For the Wheat scarf you will need 400 yards (366m) of worsted / aran weight yarn. For our scarves, we used two skeins of Sweet Fiber Cashmerino Worsted in Spanish Coin and two skeins of Ritual Dyes Elder in Bone. If you don’t know a thing about yarn check out our post on yarn here.
When knitting a scarf the size (this means diameter) of the needle is important, but you can use almost any style. The scarf is knit back and forth in rows so straight needles are an option, or you can use circular needles as we’ve done in the photos below.
The Wheat scarf calls for US #8 (5mm) needles, with the caveat: or as required to meet gauge. That means US #8 (5mm) is only a suggested starting point. Depending on your knitting style you might need to use a different needle size to achieve the pattern gauge. That said… if your scarf comes out a little bigger (or smaller), it’ll still fit! So don’t worry about gauge for this project.
Check out this post for more information on gauge in knitting. And for more information on needles, check out this post on knitting needles here.
Time to cast on!
We are keeping it really simple to start. Following the pattern instructions, cast on 35 stitches and knit each row until your piece measures 3″ (7.5cm) from the cast-on. We have linked to a knitted cast on tutorial, but any cast on method you prefer will work here. Once you’ve got your 3″ (7.5cm) of knitting your scarf will look like this:
Next we will place markers to indicate where the ribbing goes in this scarf. Both ribbing and garter stitch are reversible, so they look the same on both sides. A reversible scarf makes a lot of sense, since scarves don’t tend to stay exactly in place, and usually both sides can be seen.
You will place your markers by slipping them over the needles. Markers go on your needles BETWEEN the stitches. You never knit into them, simply slide them from your left-hand (LH) needle to your right-hand (RH) needle as you come to them. For more information on markers and how they work, check out our marker tutorial.
New to purling too? Check out our purling tutorial here. and our tutorial on recognizing basic stitches here.
Once you have placed your two markers, your work will look like this.
After you work a few rows in garter and ribbing, the pattern will start to form.
Although you are only 4″ (10cm) into your scarf, you have already learned almost everything you need to know! Keep going, working the ribbing between the markers and garter stitch everywhere else. The scarf will look a little wavy, but don’t worry, that will even out with blocking (more on what that means later).
Joining a new ball
Balls and skeins of yarn come in different weights and lengths, so, unless you have an unusually large ball of yarn, you will finish a ball at some point in your scarf. To keep going you will need to start a new ball of yarn, at least once. For instructions on joining a new ball of yarn check out our tutorial here.
Once your scarf reaches 57″ (145cm) (or 3″ (7.5cm) short of your desired length), you remove your markers and knit every row for 3″ (7.5cm).
Binding off and finishing
Your scarf is done! All you have to do is bind off all of your stitches, and cut your yarn, leaving about a 5″ (13cm) tail. Voilà, a scarf!
You will notice two things, the first is that there are some literal loose ends, and the second is that it seems to ‘pinch in’ where there is ribbing. There are two simple finishing steps to take: weaving in your ends and blocking. It is tempting to skip that last step, but don’t! Blocking your knits evens out small changes in tension, gives your knit a wash, and evens out the ribbing and garter stitch. Trust me on this one.
February 25, 2022 @ 8:20 pm
Thank you for sharing this wonderful pattern. This is not only gorgeous but what a treat to wear!!!!
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[…] Wheat scarf was designed with beginners in mind. There is a full in-depth tutorial on the Wheat scarf here, with links to each technique and bit of information […]
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December 5, 2020 @ 9:23 am
i took the class but got loss with too much comments. once i took everything apart i dont remember how to start again. is there a youtube how to start again before my 2 class?
December 8, 2020 @ 6:15 am
We have tutorials on:
how to cast on – https://blog.tincanknits.com/2013/06/14/knitted-cast-on/
how to knit – https://blog.tincanknits.com/2013/06/14/knit/
how to purl – https://blog.tincanknits.com/2013/06/14/purl/
and you can read about how to work ribbing here: https://blog.tincanknits.com/2013/06/14/basicstitches/
another useful read is all about how to read knitting patterns: https://blog.tincanknits.com/2020/10/08/how-to-read-a-knitting-pattern/
Hope this helps!
November 30, 2020 @ 5:21 pm
So I started this scarf several months ago, put it down, and decided to pick it up again, but all the pictures in this excellent blog post are gone! Is there anyway to get them back?
December 8, 2020 @ 6:22 am
Hi Liz – Sorry for the inconvenience! We just updated our website, and it messed up some of our blog images (oops!) but they should be back again, you might need to hit the ‘refresh’ button on your web browser. Hope this helps! ~ Em
June 16, 2020 @ 9:24 am
I’ve been knitting two years. On my wheat scarf the ribbing is trying to kind of buckle vertically and the knitted sides are almost wavy – doesn’t lay flat. I’m wrapping the yarn counter clockwise. Is my tension causing my problem? I tend to knit tight.
June 16, 2020 @ 12:09 pm
Hi Jane – Garter and ribbing do behave a little differently but once you block your scarf it’ll all even out
June 17, 2020 @ 9:50 am
Thank you Alexa. I was getting discouraged – I’ve ripped out & restarted three times. The knitted portion is also going “uphill”. Will blocking fix that as well?
June 17, 2020 @ 11:51 am
I would put your knitting on waste yarn and give it a block right now, then you will know just how the finished product will come out.
November 25, 2019 @ 2:11 pm
How would I adjust this pattern for a child?
November 27, 2019 @ 9:11 am
Hi Patricia – for a child I might make it a little skinnier by casting on fewer sts, and then make it shorter.
December 30, 2019 @ 1:27 pm
Would I then also adjust how many stitches in to begin the ribbing section?
January 2, 2020 @ 7:51 pm
Hi Patricia – I probably wouldn’t, but if you prefer you could do 2-4 sts less in the ribbing section
October 29, 2019 @ 10:21 am
how can I teach left-handed person to knit?
October 29, 2019 @ 3:16 pm
Hi Dolores – Knitting is a 2 handed endeavor (like playing the piano), so I usually suggest lefties try holding the yarn in their left hand and picking rather than throwing (although if they try both and prefer throwing, that’s fine too, righties and lefties knit all different ways). I haven’t come across any lefties who have had trouble with this method yet.
Marinella crosta gadda
December 15, 2017 @ 2:56 am
Fantastica semplice ma d’effetto
November 20, 2017 @ 9:01 pm
I am wondering if you slip stitch at the beginning of each row? And if so, knitwise or purlwose? No matter what I try I have been unsuccessful in achieving a clean edge on the sides like you’ve shown. I’ve restarted this pattern more times than I’d care to admit! Thanks :)
November 22, 2017 @ 9:29 am
Hi Kyrstin – I acutally didn’t slip any sts for this scarf, but slipping the first st purl-wise does give a nice edge!
October 8, 2017 @ 9:43 am
I’m a complete beginner, and I had the same question as two other commenters: if the rib section is k1p1 going from right to left, as shown in the photo, does that mean the next row should be p1k1 (because it’s going from left to right relative to your photo)? Does the order of everything flip, or just the order of the sections?
Your responses didn’t clear it up, so I did some experimenting and figured out for myself that the order should be k1p1 no matter which direction you’re going in. It would be really great if the instructions were more clear about this, especially since it’s targeted at beginners!
Thanks for putting this tutorial together!
August 3, 2017 @ 12:33 am
How do you suggest adding a new ball of yarn? The instructions state “Unless you have an unusually large ball of yarn, you will need to start a new ball of yarn at some point in your scarf, at least once.” It seems the link was intended to be there but wasn’t added.
August 3, 2017 @ 9:37 am
Hi – Thanks! Link has been added: https://blog.tincanknits.com/2013/06/14/joining-a-ball/
May 2, 2016 @ 8:12 am
I’ve been knitting a couple years but haven’t been able to knit very often, so consider my self an advanced beginner. I saw this scarf as a sample in my LYS and chose it as a pattern for a 3-day road trip both because I love the design and also it will be easy to pick up and put down when my turn to drive. Thanks for all the tutorials. They are great refreshers for me!
April 10, 2016 @ 12:58 am
Really loving these patterns so far! Quick question though – when you get to the ribbing section, does the pattern reverse when it’s flipped? For example, the first row is k 5, k1 p1 (7 times), k 16. When you flip it and finish the k 16, are you still doing k1 p1 for the ribbing pattern or should it be flipped (p1 k1) since the material is flipped? Without flipping it, it seems like you’re knitting onto a purl stitch, so I wasn’t sure which way was right. Thank you!
April 13, 2016 @ 10:21 am
Hi Samantha – because the ribbing is in a multiple of 2 you don’t need to flip it. If you started with a knit and ended with a knit in the ribbing section you would need to reverse it (p1,k1) on the back side. But not for the wheat scarf!
January 9, 2016 @ 2:46 pm
I think your directions are unclear when:
“from right to left” you knit 16 then k1p1 (x7) and then knit 5, BUT when I am headed “from left to right” do you knit 5, then…p1k1 (x7) and then knit 16 or knit 5, then still k1p1 (x7) and then knit 16?
I am sorry, but I really don’t understand.
January 9, 2016 @ 9:09 pm
Hi Betsy – I’m not sure I understand the question. For this scarf you are placing markers, so you can knit to the marker, work your ribbing and knit to the end. You are correct though, on the right side of the scarf you are working k16, rib 14, k5 and on the wrong side you are working k5, rib 14, k16
February 18, 2015 @ 12:42 pm
The link at the beginning “Download the Wheat scarf pattern” actually goes to the Malt blanket. Just wanted to let you know. :)
February 18, 2015 @ 11:58 pm
Oh thanks so much! We’ll get that changed right away… thanks for letting us know!
January 18, 2015 @ 10:13 am
Thank you for sharing such beautiful patterns – I do have a question though “) how did you “tie” your wheat scarf – hoping this doesn’t sound silly
January 19, 2015 @ 5:56 pm
It’s pretty versatile, you can just loop it around your neck, or fold it in half and put it around your neck threading the ends through the loop, or just tie it loosely around your neck.
June 21, 2016 @ 1:43 am
I think she may mean how DID you tie the scarf, in the photograph. I was wondering the same thing. ;-)
June 21, 2016 @ 9:32 am
Hi – I think you are correct! We just folded it in half put the folded scarf around your neck, then put the 2 ends through the loop.
March 8, 2014 @ 6:57 pm
I’m doing this as my first knitting project and I really like the way you’ve written the article! The explanations and linked-to tutorials are great, but I think you missed one: “start a new ball of yarn at some point”. I’m having a lot of fun with this so far! :)
March 14, 2014 @ 4:04 am
It’s here! Joining a new ball.
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