KBTH Header

Training Wheels

Jane Bynum


This scarf was designed as a learning project for knitters with some general experience, but none with lace knitting. Because it has a three-row pattern repeat in garter stitch, it is completely reversible. Because it has two plain rows between each of the rows of openwork, it is hard to get lost in the pattern and easy to repair mistakes. Because both ends of the scarf are knit in the same direction, the ripples at the bottom match.

The skills required include provisional cast on, yarn-over, and directional decreases.

The pattern was inspired by Myrna Stahman's Elegant Seamen's Scarves (Interweave Knits, Fall 1998). The stitch pattern is derived from Barbara Abbey's Baby Fan (The Complete Book of Knitting). It fits broadly into the Shetland family of Shell/Shale/Fan patterns, but the three-row repeat is not traditional.


An average length scarf should use about 200-300 yards of wool or wool-blend yarn in any weight from fingering to light worsted. Needles one or two sizes larger than the size recommended on the ball band or the size it takes to make a pleasing fabric with the yarn of choice. The finished scarf should be 6" to 8" wide over the lace portion. The prototype was worked in sport-weight wool on US 6 needles. It has 15" of ribbing and 16" in pattern on each end. The original scarf from the Seamen's Institute has 18" ribbing in the middle and 14" garter stitch on each end. Most of Myrna Stahman's scarves have longer lace sections.

Pattern Stitch:

See Note 1

Row 1: Slip 1, K 3 * SSK 2 times, (YO, K1) 3 times, YO, K2tog 2 times, K1, repeat from * twice, K3.

Row 2: Slip 1, K across.

Row 3 : Slip 1, K across.

Note 1: Myrna Stahman recommends slipping purlwise with yarn in front, then taking the yarn to the back to continue the row. Slipping the first stitch knitwise or purlwise with the yarn in back produces an equally tidy, but different, selvage, with less bother, so long as the direction is consistent.

Note 2: My favorite provisional cast-on produces a first row that is usually tighter than the following rows. I find it quicker to knit an extra row and then tink it out than to use waste yarn the way Sharon Miller recommends in Heirloom Knitting.

Note 3: Any increase will work in garter stitch, but the raised increase made by lifting and twisting the running thread between two stitches and then knitting into it is my choice for the increase between the ribbing and pattern.

Scarf Directions:

Cast on 42 stitches, using waste yarn and/or your favorite provisional cast-on (Note 2). Knit three rows.

Work in 3 X 3 ribbing for 15-18 inches, depending on the neck size of the prospective wearer. On next row, k21, increase1 (Note 3), k21. Knit 1 more row. Start lace pattern at row 1. Continue in pattern until the lace section is 16-24" long. Knit 12 rows (6 purl ridges on each side). Bind off.

Remove the provisional cast-on from the other end, then pick out the first row, slipping the stitches from the next row onto a needle (Note 2). Include ½ stitches from both ends, for a total of 43. There should be 1 purl ridge on each side. Begin lace pattern at row 1. Work to match first end.

If you don't know if you have enough yarn, knit both ends at the same time, side-by-side on the needle, until the yarn is almost used up, then finish with the garter stitch edge.