My First Scarf: A Story and Free Knitting Pattern

The beginning of the first scarf I knit

This is the story of my first knitting project. It’s a story that spans 50 years. It’s about yarn and memories and connections that come full circle. And it includes a free beginner pattern.
This striped garter-stitch scarf is a good beginner project for novices who have the patience to knit a whole scarf. Don’t want to knit so much? Make it a coaster or cowl instead.

This post contains affiliate links.

In the Beginning

When I was about six, one of my favorite books was A Gift from the Lonely Doll, by Dare Wright. In the story, The Lonely Doll —whose name is Edith—knits a scarf for her dad, Mr. Bear.  She knits diligently at every possible opportunity and (spoiler alert) the scarf ends up too long. It’s worth reading the book for all the adorable details.

A Gift from the Lonely Doll cover image

Like my doll heroine, I wanted to knit a striped scarf for my father’s Christmas present. The scarf must be red and black, the team colors of his beloved University of Georgia Bulldogs.

My First Knitting Project

My maternal grandmother lived with us and was happy to teach me to knit. We started with a skein of black Germantown worsted wool, some leftover bits of red Germantown, and a pair of straight needles. She showed me how to cast on—the German twisted cast on, no less!—and how to do the knit stitch.

I knit and knit. The stitch count changed from row to row, but that didn’t matter to me.

The subtle shaping was due to inadvertently added stitches. Surely a design element, right?

I knit and knit and knit. I learned to change colors, although not always on the correct side.

I clearly didn’t have an idea of “right side” and “wrong side”.

I knit and knit and knit. The scarf grew slowly. Yarnover holes and incomplete stitches magically disappeared overnight. It’s the only time in my life that the Knitting Fairy has corrected my knitting.

 I knit and knit and knit and knit and knit. Now it was starting to look like a scarf. I tried it on frequently to see if it was long enough.

Is it long enough yet?

I knit and knit and knit and knit and knit and knit . Nana kept urging me to knit a few more rows, but I was on deadline and anxious to finish on time. (Sound familiar?)

Just in time for Christmas, the scarf was long enough. Because the edges were so wobbly, Nana single crocheted around the whole thing to tidy it up. We wrapped it up in anticipation of the big reveal the next day.

On Christmas morning, Daddy opened the package. He made all the appropriate noises about how beautiful the scarf was, and how hard I must have worked to make such a special gift. Apparently it was the best gift ever!

I never saw him wear it, and I eventually forgot about it.

About 25 Years Later

Visiting my parents’ house, I caught a glance of red and black rolled up in the back of a drawer. It was my first scarf! Daddy had saved it all those years!

But that photo doesn’t really do it justice. Let me help you understand the scale of this scarf.

It is 4″ wide x 22.5″ long. Despite all my efforts, and even trying it on my skinny six-year-old neck, it was way too small to be worn by an adult male! Furthermore, we lived in Georgia where scarves aren’t even needed. The scarf came home with me, to remind me how much my technique had improved.

About 25 Years Later

As I wandered the aisles of a trade show, my eye caught a familiar sight: Germantown yarn from Kelbourne Woolens.  I’m pretty sure I squeed out loud. I may have jumped up and down a little bit.

Germantown Yarn colorful skeins

About Germantown Yarn

For that first scarf, and for many projects after that, Brunswick Germantown Worsted was my go-to yarn. 

Knitters who have been around for a long while will remember this ubiquitous yarn. There weren’t nearly as many yarns available as there are now, but Germantown was a classic worsted weight standby that came in many colors.

Germantown Yarn in black and red

Read Germantown: Redesigning a History for the story of how Kelbourne Woolens revived the brand, then read A Brief History of Germantown Yarns for a fascinating look at this American yarn. Go ahead, I’ll wait while you do that.

When Kelbourne Woolens owner Courtney Kelly heard the story of my first scarf and what Germantown meant to me, she immediately suggested that I make another scarf, and provided the yarn for me to knit it.

My First Scarf Knitting Pattern

So here, fifty years after the original scarf, is the pattern for My First Scarf. This version is meant to be easy enough for new knitters to knit, and long enough and warm enough to actually be worn by an adult.  

Presented in Georgia Bulldog red and black, of course. Note that black is not the best choice for beginners; feel free to use different, lighter colors for easier visibility.

My First Scarf

The free pattern is below; you also can purchase a printer-friendly pdf.

Buy the Printed Pattern Button

Want to knit it in Germantown yarn? You’ll get 10% off the price if you use code EDIEECKMAN at checkout here.

Materials

Craft Yarn Council Icon for 4 Medium Weight Yarn

Kelbourne Woolens Germantown (100% North American wool, 220 yds/201 m, 100 g), 1 skein each #005 Black (A) and #625 Scarlet (B), or colors of your choice.

US size 8 (5 mm) knitting needles or size to obtain correct gauge

Stitch marker or safety pin

Finished Dimensions

3.75″ (9.5 cm) wide x 61″ (155 cm) long

Gauge

20 sts and 39 rows = 4” (10 cm) in garter stitch (knit every row)
Gauge is not crucial in this pattern, but for best results match the gauge of the pattern. Watch How to Measure Gauge in Knitted Garter Stitch.

Pattern Note

Leave a 4-5″ [10-13 cm] tail of yarn each time you change yarns so that you’ll have enough yarn to securely weave in the tails. Each time you change yarn colors, the yarn tails should be on the rightmost edge of the scarf.

Instructions

With A, long tail cast on 19 sts.

Row 1 (Wrong Side): Knit.

Turn the work and place a marker on the right side to help you keep track of the right and wrong sides.

Rows 2-15: Knit.

At this point you have a total of 8 garter ridges and you have ended by knitting a wrong side row.

Cut A.

Rows 16-27: With B, knit. End by knitting a wrong side row. You have 6 garter ridges of B.

Continue working alternate stripes of 8 garter ridges (16 rows) in A and 6 garter ridges (12 rows) in B, until you have 20 stripes in color B. End by knitting a wrong side row.

Last stripe: With A, knit 8 garter ridges (16 rows). End by knitting a wrong side row. Bind off on a right side row.

Weave in all ends. Block.

Crochet Pattern Round-Up: Unusual Techniques

Break out of your crochet rut and try a new technique! Skip the rows of double crochet and rounds of granny squares.

Find a technique that’s new to you with this collection of crochet projects that use unusual techniques.

WeCrochet: A Brand Just for Crocheters

We Crochet Featured Image with Girl in Hat

Recently a new player has arrived in the crochet world. WeCrochet is a new multi-faceted brand that focuses entirely on crochet. I interviewed Heather Mann, Marketing Coordinator of WeCrochet, about what crocheters can expect to see.

This post contains affiliate links, which may provide a small income to me if you buy something, but doesn’t cost you anything extra.

Tell us a little about WeCrochet, and why you felt there was a need for a crochet-specific brand.

WeCrochet is the new brand dedicated to all things crochet. We have an online store, WeCrochet Magazine, WeCrochet Podcast, a blog, and a learning center with crochet how-tos and videos.

WeCrochet magazine

There are many websites, publications, and brands devoted to knitting, but almost none that focus exclusively on crochet, yet crochet is increasing in popularity according to Google search trends. We wanted to create a place for Crocheters, by Crocheters, with patterns and content that is tailored to what Crocheters want.

What does WeCrochet offer than is different from other sites that offer yarn and crochet patterns?

We carry our own yarn (co-branded with our sister site, Knit Picks), our own crochet hooks, and develop our own patterns, but that’s just the beginning.

The most important component of WeCrochet is the community we are building within the already vibrant online crochet community. We feature Crocheters on our blog and in our magazine, feature community crocheters’ photos on Instagram and Facebook, interact with people via our Ravelry and Facebook groups as well as all our social media channels. I think the passion our staff has for crochet (we are all Crocheters too) spills out into everything that we do, and you can feel the love we have for crochet and our crochet community.

The WeCrochet Team
Heather Mann (left) and the WeCrochet team

How did you become involved with WeCrochet?

Colorful crocheted throw from WeCrochet

I was a professional craft blogger (at DollarStoreCrafts.com) for 10 years, as well as running my own influencer marketing company, but I was ready for a change. I’m a super crafty person (I call myself an “omnicrafter”), and I’ve been crocheting for 15 years. When I found out Knit Picks was starting a crochet site AND that their headquarters are in my town, I couldn’t apply for the job fast enough.

I was the first person hired for the new crochet site and I participated in all aspects of defining the brand. I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last year.

Your site is bright and appealing, and has resources for beginning crocheters. What do you offer more advanced crocheters in the way of content?

Crocheted Sweater from WeCrochet

We are dedicated to serving Crocheters of all levels. Right now what we are doing to serve more advanced Crocheters is providing intermediate and advanced crochet patterns. We have focused on developing beautiful sweater and garment patterns, as well as resources and patterns designed to help beginning Crocheters level up into more advanced Crocheters. We also talk about intermediate and advanced techniques in our magazine, podcast, and blog.

It’s National Crochet Month. What is WeCrochet doing to celebrate?

We’ll be celebrating with a segment on the WeCrochet podcast, donating staff projects to Warm Up America, and doing some fun giveaways on our social media accounts. We’re also starting a new Crochet Along for the Bobble Diamond Blanket, that will go from March-April.

What else do you want us to know?

If you are a crochet designer, keep your eye on our Ravelry group for our submission calls so you can submit patterns to our upcoming publications. And all Crocheters, please feel free to reach out to us anytime via social media.

Yay Crochet Kits from WeCrochet are deeply discounts kits that contain the WeCrochet magazine plus tools and yarns you can use to make some of the projects in the magazine.

The $15 Yay Crochet Kit is a $39 value
The $25 Yay Crochet Kit is a $100 value.

Here are some of the beautiful yarns available from WeCrochet’s website:

Crochet Along with Me: 5-Panel Blanket

5-Panel Crochet Blanket

For the next several weeks, over on the Plymouth Yarn Magazine blog, I’m going to be hosting a free Crochet Along (CAL). I’d love to have you join us.

5-Panel Crochet Blanket Crochet Along

We’ll be crocheting a 5-Panel Blanket. Each panel is made with a different stitch pattern, and along the way I’ll show you not only the stitch pattern, but tips and tricks for making your crocheting easier.

Don’t love the colors? Not a problem! Choose colors that suit your decor.
Find all the details here.

Gather up your yarn, and join me and Plymouth Yarn as we crochet along together.

Past Crochet Alongs

Last year I hosted a crochet along here on the blog and on Ravelry. You can buy the completed pattern for the Skill-Builder Blanket Crochet Blanket CAL.

Skill-Builder Crochet Blanket

Free Crochet Pattern: Easy Heart Hat

Easy Crochet Heart Hat

Wear your heart on your head with this easy beginner crochet pattern for Valentine’s Day, or any time of the year.

Easy Crochet Heart Hat
Adult size hat shown in white with red heart. Child size shown in red with white heart.

The hat is worked in joined rounds from the top down in joined rounds. The heart appliqué is crocheted separately and sewn on.

This post may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.

This free pattern is sized for babies. An ad-free paid version includes sizes for baby, child, teen/adult small and adult medium/large, and includes a crochet symbol diagram for the heart. This pattern uses American crochet terms.

Buy the Printed Pattern Button

Materials

Craft Yarn Council Icon for 4 Medium Weight Yarn
Craft Yarn Council Icon for 4 Medium Weight Yarn





About 90 yards [85 m] of medium weight yarn in a main color and about 10 yards [10 m] in a contrasting color.

Red Heart Soft Yarn

The hats pictured used Red Heart Soft yarn in Off-White and Cherry Red. (Really Red is another good choice.)

Size H-9 [5 mm] crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge

Abbreviations

CC: contrasting color
ch: chain
dc: double crochet
hdc: half double crochet
MC: main color
rep: repeat
rnd(s): round(s)
RS: right side
sc: single crochet
st(s): stitch(es)
tr: treble crochet

Size

To fit baby
Finished circumference 14 3/4″ [35 cm]; hat fits with negative ease

Gauge

Rnds 1-2 = 2¾” [7 cm]
13 dc and 7½ rounds = 4″ [10 cm]

Instructions

Heart

With CC, ch 4, join with slip st to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch 3, (3 tr, 3 dc, ch 1, tr, ch 1, 3 dc, 3 tr) in ring, ch 3, slip st in ring.

Rnd 2: Ch 3, sc in next tr, 3 dc in next tr, hdc in next tr, sc in next 3 dc, (sc, hdc, sc) in next tr, sc in next 3 dc, hdc in next tr, 3 dc in next tr, sc in next tr, ch 3, slip st in next slip st.

Fasten off.

Hat

With MC, ch 4, join with slip st to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch 3 (counts as dc throughout), 11 dc in ring, join with slip st to top of ch-3—12 dc.

Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dc in each st around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—24 dc.

Rnd 3: Ch 3, 2 dc in next dc, *dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc; rep from * around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—36 dc.

Rnd 4: Ch 3, dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc, *dc in next 2 dc, 2 dc in next dc; rep from * around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—48 dc.

Rnds 5-10 : Ch 3, dc in each dc around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—48 dc.

Next rnd: Ch 1, sc in each sc around, join with slip st to first sc.
Rep last rnd 3 (4, 4, 5) more times.

Fasten off. Weave in ends. Sew heart onto center front of hat, using photo as a guide.

More Projects

I love to crochet hats! Check out my Avery Hat and the Sunset Hill Hat.

Looking for more heart-themed projects? Knit the Hearts All Around Hat or try out the Thread Crochet Heart Necklace.

St. Distaff’s Day

Pietro_Antonio_Rotari, Young Girl with Distaff

Distaff Day, or St. Distaff’s Day, occurs on January 7. The twelve days of Christmas are over, and it’s time to get back to work, for real.

Distaff Day is a way to recognize and celebrate women’s work in the home. Spinning was hugely important throughout history, and in European traditions it became synonymous with women’s work.

Pietro Antonio Rotari-Young Girl with Distaff

Today, some spinners celebrate January 7 as a kind of event, getting together for spin-ins and other fun.

Even if you’re not a spinner, I think it’s good to stop and think about all that unrecognized work that women have done to keep generations of people clothed. If you work with any kind of fiber to create fabric, you are doing the same thing. And we don’t need to be gender-specific here. Let’s recognize and celebrate all fiber crafts done by everyone!

What is a Distaff?

A distaff is a tool used to hold unspun fibers. The fiber is loosely wrapped around the distaff. The distaff can be held under the arm when drop spinning, or attached to a spinning wheel.

Man and Woman with Distaff
From 1941. Notice the woman and walking and spinning. [FOTO:FORTEPAN / Schwertner Ágnes, Woman, man, double portrait, street view, moustache, distaff, weaving, hat, village Fortepan 73437, CC BY-SA 3.0]
Woman spinning from distaff
1907 German postcard, spinning flax

There are different styles, but a basic distaff is simply a smooth stick with a finial of some sort. Russian-style distaffs look more like boards, and can be highly decorative.

collection of Russian distaffs
Russian Distaffs [shakko, Russian distaffs 01 (Ferapontov), CC BY-SA 3.0]

Who was St. Distaff?

Nobody. There wasn’t an saint, or even a person. (My opionion? The name probably came about because it is the “13th day of Christmas” and somebody back in history was trying to be clever.)

The 17th Century poet Robert Herrick wrote about shenanigans that happened on “S. Distaff Day”.

Saint Distaff’s Day, or The Morrow After Twelfth Day

Partly work and partly play
Ye must on S. Distaff’s day:
From the plough soon free your team,
Then come home and fodder them.
If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and fire the tow;
Scorch their plackets, but beware
That ye singe no maidenhair.
Bring in pails of water, then,
Let the maids bewash the men.
Give S. Distaff all the right,
Then bid Christmas sport good-night;
And next morrow everyone
To his own vocation.

If you’d like to read a bit more about the history of St. Distaff’s Day, and spinning in general, check out these links:

Saint Distaff’s Day
Chambers Book of Days

Back to Work

To celebrate St. Distaff’s Day, I suggest you pick up your favorite fiber tools, gather some fiber (already spun yarn counts!) and get back to work.