Since I don’t share overly much when I finish an item, I thought I should start a spotlight series. Why I chose that project… what yarn I used… any modifications I made…

These spotlights are NOT in order of when I finished the project.

Spotlight # 1:
Vertically Knit Scarves

This is my favorite way to knit scarves, since it involves a bit of mental trickery. You cast on the length of your scarf. So there’s no ‘Oh I think it’s long enough- I’ll bind off now’. You are committed to the length. The width is negotiable.

The Math:
So I know using worsted weight yarn,
I get 4.25 stitches to the inch on US size 8 (5 mm) needles.
I get 4 stitches to the inch on US size 9 (5.5mm) needles.
And I get 3.75 stitches to the inch on US size 10 (6 mm) needles.
Those measurements are stockinette, but I get close to those on garter stitch (maybe .25 stitches more), so that’s the measurements I use.

So if I wanted a 5-foot scarf – I cast on 255 stitches on size 8s (5 feet is 60 inches, and the desired stitches would be 60 x 4.25), 240 stitches on size 9s, or 225 stitches on size 10. If you have a stitch pattern you want to use (like I did for the Diagonal Lace Scarf), you calculate how many stitch pattern repeats gets you close to your desired length.


The Diagonal Lace Scarf pattern was a multiple of 3, and I had 10 border stitches. So I knit it on a pair of US 10s, so the number I want to get close to is 225. Subtract your 10 border stitches right away, so 215. So your multiple of 3 needs to be no more than 215 stitches. I ended up casting on a total of 202 stitches. 192 pattern stitches, plus 10 for the border.

For the width- I did three lace repeats, which is close to 5 inches wide. (I have not blocked it yet, once I do, I will reach that 5-inch width easily.)

If you do not have a particular stitch pattern in mind- you can make it all garter stitch like this one:

It is mostly garter stitch, except for the two rows of stockinette before and after the blue color. It makes it stand up more.

Or this one:

I picked up and added garter triangles to the ends, but those are not my favorite.

This one is stockinette with a garter stitch border (and a purl strip right in the middle):

I’d rather knit longer rows, than to knit a ton of rows. So… 200 stitches, but I only have to knit 20 or so rows? That’s easier for me than to knit 20 stitches, but have to knit 200 or so rows. It’s also faster, because I’m not stopping every four rows to measure the length. I also don’t hit the no man’s land that you get to about 3 feet in. Where you knit and knit and knit, and it never seems to get any longer? And all of a sudden- it’s six feet long?

The magic (and mental trickery) of vertically knit scarves comes when you bind off. Because you generally use a 24″ or 32″ circular needle – the scarf will be bunched up. Your brain will question this early on. Ignore it. If your gauge is true (or near true)- the scarf will be long enough. Once you start binding off- the scarf starts growing. It’s like that pocket handkerchief trick that beginning magicians do. It just keeps growing and growing and growing…

And once you get the hang of vertically knitting scarves – you can modify charts to do it that way, too. Just remember that knitting is wider than it is tall. So while you can just turn the chart on it’s side- the chart will be longer than it is wide, when you knit it vertically.

It took me about 10 hours to knit this scarf:

Spread out over days, of course.

If I were to knit a similar scarf in the normal way- it would take me at least four times as long. Maybe five.

What I love about this way of knitting scarves:
– It’s quick. It qualifies as instant gratification knitting for me. And if you go up to bigger needles and cast on less stitches- it goes FASTER!

– Vertical stripes are supposed to be slimming.

– You don’t see scarves knit vertically much. Maybe a few designers have gone this route, but most people don’t think about turning a scarf on it’s side. Sweaters? Sure. Blankets? Of course! But not usually scarves. And definitely not any store-bought scarves!

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