Scarf Rehab

Although I’ve known how to knit for most of my life, I have drifted in and out of actively doing it. A few years ago I got back into it again after ignoring my needles for a long, long time. One of the first things I knit, just to get the rhythm back, was a simple scarf in stockinette stitch, in a self-striping sock yarn. I had a vague memory that told me that stockinette stitch tends to curl at the edges, so I added a three-stitch border of seed stitch on each side to prevent it. Well, it didn’t prevent it at all. No matter how often I blocked it, the finished scarf tended to roll up like the streets of my small town at 8:30 pm.

green striped scarf 009

I persisted in wearing it anyway, because I liked the colours, and because, well, I made it and didn’t want that effort to be for nothing. However, I still wasn’t happy with it.

Then I read a series of posts on TECHknitter’s blog that addressed this very problem. So, I decided to follow the instructions and turn my stockinette scarf into a ribbed one.

It was easy, and the only thing I had trouble with was dropping the existing knit stitches down to the first 5 rows of seed stitch border. That was because the scarf was 4 years old and had been worn and hand-washed quite a few times, so the yarn was a little bit felted together and needed some coaxing to let go.

The scarf is 53 stitches wide, including 3 on each side in seed stitch. TECHknitter’s instructions recommended one purl stitch for each three knit stitches, so I decided on creating 11 new purls across. That would meant the scarf would now follow this pattern: 3 stitches seed stitch, (K3 P1) 11 times, K3, 3 stitches seed stitch. I undid the original bind-off and unknit the five rows of seed stitch at the end, plus an additional two rows to allow for binding off again. I wound the excess yarn on a yarn bobbin to keep it from getting tangled. It took me, on average, about half an hour to drop down and then pick up again each column of purls. I had the whole thing done in less than a week.

This shows the back of the scarf after I’d finished. You can see how wonky the new purl stitches look, because the memory in the yarn was resisting change.

ribbed scarf before blocking

To finish it off, and get the purls looking their best, I wet blocked it, and pinned it out to dry.

ribbed scarf blocking

And here you can see how much tidier the purl columns look, after the yarn relaxed in the water and took on it’s new shape. (If only all resistance to change could be fixed by a soak in a tub of water!)

ribbed scarf after blocking

Here is the newly rehabilitated scarf. It looks so much nicer now. Thank you, TECHknitter, for your great instructions.

ribbed scarf finished

A few details about this scarf:

yarn: Step, by Austermann in colour 03 (green) – 1 full skein

needle size: 4.0 mm

pattern: 53 stitches across, 5 rows of seed stitch at each end, the body is 3 stitches seed stitch, (K3 P1) 11 times, K3, 3 stitches seed stitch.

finished size:

after conversion to ribbing – 56 1/2 in. (143.5 cm) long and 7 in. (18 cm) wide (I lost a little bit of yarn in this procedure, due to having to leave enough to bind off again)

original scarf in stockinette stitch – 58 in. (147 cm) long and 8 3/4 in. (22 cm)  wide

seed stitch: for an odd number of stitches, k1, * p1, k1; rep from * every row.


10 thoughts on “Scarf Rehab

  1. Ok clearly I’m the ONLY one that’s never used those foam tile things for blocking….and I own half a dozen of the foam-thingies.

    What pins are you using? Being a Biology teacher….they look like dissecting pins…but I can’t imagine where you would buy those in a regular store….what pins are they really…and where’d ya get them?

  2. Hi KnitterInPink. Thanks for stopping by. The foam tile things are great for blocking on – I recommend them. The pins are T-pins, available at most knitting shops, sewing shops and craft stores like Michaels or JoAnns. In addition to using them while blocking, they are also handy for pinning together pieces of knitting before sewing them together.

  3. So you went back in with a crochet hook after you made the ladders and created the ribbing? I guess TechKnitter’s blog somewhat confused me. So if I’m knitting the original garment I need to k3 p1 all the way through to create the rib and eliminate the curl?

  4. Hi Alicia – yes, that’s exactly what I did. I used the crochet hook to pick up the dropped stitch and turn what had been a knit stitch into a purl, all the way up. The ratio of 1 purl to every 3 knits is what’s mentioned on TECHknitter’s blog. I find my scarf still curls a bit, so I might even use a higher ratio if I was knitting the ribbing from scratch (maybe k3, p2?). But your mileage may vary. You could try a swatch to see what looks good to you. Thanks for stopping by.

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