Curly Knitted Scarves: Why You Don’t Want Them

Woman knitting happily


Now that we are right in the middle of winter, knitting a scarf may be one of the things on your to-do list this month. Nothing is more frustrating, though, than knitting a pretty scarf only to watch it curl up like last month’s Christmas ribbon. Pretty, but not what you’re looking for.

Then there are the scarves that curl right up into a “tube”; unless it’s going to be used as pipe insulation, this is not the look you want.

That’s not to say that some scarves actually are curly. It depends on the yarn you use. There are newer patterns out there that curl as you knit them, such as Red Heart Boutique Sashay Yarn.  These little beauties do exactly what you want them to do. Curl up.

In general, when knitting a scarf, you want your pattern to be not only uniform, but lay flat as you knit it. Sometimes that just doesn’t happen.

Why not?

Well, there are reasons for the curling scarf. If you set out to knit a nice, flat scarf and you end up with something else, then it could be due to knitting in a stockinette stitch. You know, where you knit one row, then purl the next, then repeat over and over again. This is the number one reason that a scarf will curl.

So, rule #1 is: never knit a scarf in stockinette stitch. If you don’t believe me, just try it out.

If you already have a scarf knitted in stockinette stitch, that you really want to give away or wear yourself, then there are solutions for you.

Try crocheting a simple chain or single-crochet stitch around the entire scarf.

Or, you may want to fringe your scarf on the sides, rather than at the ends. This will reduce the curling.

Another solution is to knit five stitches at the beginning and ends of each row, then use the stockinette stitch for the rest of the row.

As you become more familiar with knitting, you will want to use all of the other knitting stitches available to you. There are so many, and most are very easy to knit, so sticking with a stockinette stitch will not be your only option.

Scarf on knitting needlesIf you are going to utilize a stockinette stitch, then incorporate it with other stitches along the way. You may want to start your scarf with a garter stitch (which is knitting every row) for ten rows or so. Then you can switch to a stockinette stitch for twenty rows, then switch off to another stitch type. By repeating these different stitches, your scarf will maintain the flatter look that you want.

Be sure to plan ahead for these different stitch types, as they are not all knit on odd or even rows. Just know that everything must coordinate with the number of stitches you initially cast on. It’s easy to do, but just takes a little planning upfront.

Curly scarves are a very common mistake when knitting. There are ways to fix them, and beside yourself, no one will ever know the difference!

Happy kniiting!

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