How to Crochet a Scarf

  • 01 of 07

    Scarf Examples, Plus a Link to Our Free Crochet Scarf Patterns

    Crochet Scarves
    Crochet Scarves. Photos © Michael and Amy Solovay

    The main steps you need to take to get started with crocheting a scarf:


    1. Choose materials: crochet hook plus yarncrochet thread or other fiber, and any extras such as buttons or appliques
    2. Choose or design a scarf pattern to use
    3. Crochet your scarf!

    Want more details? This guide provides free instructions including many scarf examples plus tutorials and links to free crochet scarf patterns.


    Pictured Above:



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  • 02 of 07

    Choosing Materials for a Crocheted Scarf

    Close-up of multi-colored yarn
    neilbookman / Getty Images

    You'll need the following materials to crochet a scarf:


    • Fiber: yarn, crochet thread, or similar material
    • Crochet Hook: Choose a crochet hook in a size that works with your chosen fiber; if you've chosen to use a fine crochet thread, you'll want to select a small steel crochet hook. If you're using yarn, take a look at the yarn label to see which size crochet hook the manufacturer recommends using with the yarn. The suggested hook size is a guideline you can use, but it isn't...MORE mandatory for you to stick to it; it's a good starting place if you haven't already developed personal preferences for which size hook you might like to use to crochet your scarf.
    • It's also helpful to have a tapestry needle and a tape measure handy.

    Get Specifics When Crocheting Scarves for Charity:


    If you are crocheting scarves for charity, you'll want to check with the charity you're going to work with for fiber recommendations. Each charity has its own criteria for what people should make their projects out of. The charity may reject scarves that are not made with their preferred materials, so be careful to find out about their specific requirements ahead of time.


    Give Your Yarns the "Touch Test":


    When you crochet a scarf, you need to be selective about the yarn or thread you use. If you're making a scarf that's likely to come into contact with the wearer's skin, you'll want to choose a soft yarn. This isn't as crucial if you're making a winter scarf that would be worn overtop of a turtleneck or wrapped overtop of your outerwear. But, generally speaking, it's a good idea to design a scarf with the assumption that it'll be touching your neck. Since the neck is a particularly delicate spot, it's a good idea to pick a soft yarn.


    In my experience, it isn't sufficient to touch the yarn with your hands; you'll want to actually hold the yarn against your neck in order to decide whether it's going to work or not. You might feel a little silly doing this at the yarn store, but it beats buying a bunch of yarn that won't work for its intended project. I've found that my neck is more sensitive than my hands are, and that even yarns which feel soft to my hands don't always feel as good when worn around my neck.


    Scarf Yarns:


    For use in crocheted scarves, cotton has both pros and cons. Because of its softness, cotton is one of my go-to fibers for making scarves. As a Southern Californian, I wear my cotton scarves all year long; they're an essential part of my wardrobe.


    While cotton yarn is a favorite of mine, it also has its pitfalls when it comes to scarf-making:


    • Cotton does not retain its warmth when it's wet, so it isn't a good choice for crocheting scarves you'd want to wear in the rain or snow.
    • Cotton is also heavy, so when you use it, you have to be careful with the design choices you make. I once designed a solid tube scarf out of a bulky cotton; the scarf turned out so heavy that, the first time I put it on, I literally felt like it was weighing me down. I ended up unraveling the whole thing and using the yarn to crochet an altogether different project.

    If you want to use bulky cotton yarn to crochet a long or wide scarf, it's a good idea to keep the weight in mind, and find a way to offset it; for example, an open lacy stitch might work well, as it did in my lacy striped scarf.


    If you'd like to check out more cotton scarf examples, you might be interested to see this page of cotton scarf patterns.


    Angora


    Yarn from angora bunnies is both warm and soft, making it an ideal scarf material. Unfortunately, angora yarn is expensive and it can also be a challenge to find, so an angora scarf is a luxury.


    Silk:


    Silk scarves are dreamy to make and wear. Silk is a fantastic all-weather fiber, and it works up into lovely scarves.


    Wool:


    Wool is a warm, resilient fiber that works well for crocheting scarves. The trick is to choose a soft wool, like a lovely luscious merino wool. If you're crocheting a warm winter scarf, wool is a fantastic choice; wool retains its warmth even when wet. So if you want a scarf that will keep the wearer warm even in rain or snow, consider using a high-quality wool yarn.


    Alpaca


    Alpaca yarn is a great alternative to wool; it shares many of the same properties.


    Acrylic is a popular fiber for crocheting scarves. In the past, it has generally been both widely available and affordable, with an outstanding selection of colors available.


    Depending on the stitches and pattern used, acrylic scarves can be warm, but they are generally not as warm as comparable wool scarves. For harsh winter conditions, if your goal is to crochet a very warm scarf, you might want to choose a warmer fiber than acrylic.


    Eyelash Yarn:


    Eyelash yarn is another popular choice for crocheting scarves. You can see some examples on this page: eyelash yarn patterns. Some eyelash yarns can be tricky to crochet with; if you anticipate crocheting an eyelash yarn scarf, be sure to check out these tips for crocheting with eyelash yarn.


    More Yarn Info:


    This list above is not comprehensive; there are many other possibilities. If you'd like to learn more about yarn, please be sure to visit my pages about crochet supplies and crochet yarn. ​Some of you might also like to learn more about the yarns I recommend for total beginners.


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  • 03 of 07

    How to Crochet a Scarf in Long Rows -- Horizontal Scarves

    Examples of Scarves Crocheted in Long Horizontal Rows
    Examples of Scarves Crocheted in Long Horizontal Rows. Photos © Michael Solovay and Amy Solovay

    Examples of Scarves Crocheted in Long Rows:


    Let's start by taking a look at some examples of scarves that are crocheted in long rows (pictured above.) You'll see that they are all different, but they do have some common elements. Pictured from top left to right:



    If any of these scarves strike your fancy, the free crochet patterns are all available on our website -- help yourself. In that case,...MORE just follow the instructions in the pattern to crochet your scarf.


    Otherwise, the instructions below will help you design your own scarf if that's what you'd rather do.


    Choosing a Stitch or Stitch Pattern to Use for Crocheting Your Scarf


    One of the things that differentiates each of the scarves above from the others: the stitch or stitch pattern used for crocheting the design.


    If you are new to crocheting, I recommend making your first scarf in one of the basic stitches -- perhaps single crochet, half double crochet, or double crochet. This is optional; if you're persistent and adventurous, you could jump right into crocheting a more complex stitch pattern if you like, although you'll have to do more planning and perhaps more math in the process. Check out our library of ​crochet stitches to find free instructions for a variety of different crochet stitches; or perhaps you might prefer to work from a printed stitch dictionary such as Triple Play Pattern Stitches by Darla Sims.


    Figuring Out How Long to Make Your Starting Chain


    Most crocheted scarves begin with a foundation chain, perhaps a short chain or perhaps a long one. If you want to crochet a scarf in long horizontal rows, you'll begin by making a long length of chain stitches.


    Using your chosen yarn and crochet hook, and working in the stitch you would like to use, crochet a gauge swatch measuring at least 4 inches square. Measure this swatch to determine how many stitches per inch you are working. Decide how long you want your scarf to be. Multiply your stitches per inch by the desired number of inches. This is a rough estimate of how many chain stitches you need to crochet, but that isn't the final number.


    To arrive at the final number, you'll also need to account for any additional stitches that need to be worked at the edges to make the design turn out right. If you're using a basic stitch, you can use the turning chain formulas on this page as a guideline; for example, if you are working single crochet stitch you'll add one chain stitch to your total. If you're working double crochet, you'll add three chains to your total.


    There's one other factor to consider: if you are working a stitch pattern with a "multiple," you'll want to be sure the math works out right.


    Figuring Out How Many Rows to Crochet


    As you crochet your scarf will grow vertically / upwards from the foundation chain; each row will be long, but (relatively speaking) you will not need to crochet all that many rows to create a wearable scarf. The exact number of rows you'll need is variable and depends on several factors:


    • The finished size you want your scarf to be; for a skinny scarf, you'll need fewer rows than you need for a wider scarf
    • How short or tall your crocheted rows are; perhaps you make very tall stitches, in which case you'd need fewer rows than if you make shorter stitches.
    • Your materials also play an important role in this. If you're crocheting with thread and a tiny steel crochet hook, you'd need to crochet many more rows than you would if you are using a bulky yarn and a large hook.
    • There's one more consideration you'll need to keep in mind, and that is the stitch or stitch pattern you are using. Some stitch patterns cannot be completed in a single row; you might have to work several rows to make one complete repeat of the stitch pattern. In that case, you'll need to take that into consideration when you decide how many rows to crochet. If your stitch pattern repeats over four rows, you'll have to crochet your rows in groups of four to avoid ending up with an incomplete repeat.

      With basic crochet stitches such as single crochet and double crochet, there's no complicated row repeat to deal with.

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  • 04 of 07

    How to Crochet a Scarf in Short Rows -- Vertical Scarves

    How to Crochet a Scarf: Examples of Scarves Crocheted in Short Rows (Vertical Scarves)
    How to Crochet a Scarf: Examples of Scarves Crocheted in Short Rows (Vertical Scarves). Photos © Michael Solovay and Amy Solovay

    Examples of Scarves Crocheted in Short Rows:


    When you crochet lots of short rows stacked on top of each other, the end result is a scarf with a vertical orientation, like the ones shown in the photos above. Here are some examples of this type of scarf:


    • Simple crocheted scarf -- My photos shows this design crocheted in a variegated color of Red Heart Super Saver yarn. I've included a close-up photo of this design so that you can get a good look at which way the stitches are going.
    • Grid lace...MORE scarf (pictured in the lower photo) -- This scarf is crocheted using single crochet, double crochet and chain stitches which are arranged in such a way as to create a lacy grid pattern.
    • Vertical mesh scarf (not pictured) -- This scarf is comprised of an easy double crochet mesh that incorporates chain stitches. The scarf works up quickly and it's really drapey and comfortable.
    • Fancy Fur scarf (not pictured) -- This is an eyelash scarf with a lot of texture and visual interest.
    • Fun Fur scarf (not pictured) -- This is a basic eyelash yarn scarf.

    This type of scarf starts off with a relatively short starting chain, and each row is short and quick to crochet; however, you'll have to crochet a relatively high number of rows to create a wearable scarf.


    One advantage to this type of scarf: you don't have to decide ahead of time how long you want it to be; you can try it on as you are working it to see if you like the length.


    When crocheting this type of scarf, the work is turned frequently. Be sure to crochet your turning chains neatly, as they will be highly visible along the edges of your work. If they are not crocheted carefully, your scarf could look sloppy.


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  • 05 of 07

    How to Crochet an Infinity Scarf

    How to Crochet an Infinity Scarf. Photos © Michael Solovay. All Rights Reserved.

    Lately, the hottest new fashion accessories have been cowl-neck-style scarves that don't need tying, because you loop them around your neck to keep them in place. You've probably seen 'em around, and if you want to make one for yourself, you are in good company. With that in mind, here are some free instructions, and a free pattern, so you can make your own stylish infinity scarf (or scarves).


    Choose a Pattern, and Choose Your Materials


    There are bunches of lovely patterns available for crocheting...MORE infinity scarves. You don't necessarily need to use someone else's pattern for this, especially not if you have your own ideas for designs you would like to make. However, if you are new to crochet and not confident in your design skills, using someone else's pattern can save bunches of time and aggravation.


    If you don't already have a pattern in mind, I suggest using this easy infinity scarf pattern from our website. It's a gorgeous design, yet it's also a simple project that any crocheter who knows the basics could complete successfully.


    The Process, in a Nutshell


    There are many, many different ways you could approach the task of crocheting an infinity scarf. I could write an entire book about this, which I'm guessing you wouldn't have the time or inclination to read right now anyway. You probably just want to get started on a scarf, right? So instead of covering every last technicality and possibility in relationship to the processes you could use, let's just look at one popular, workable approach.


    Unlike a typical traditional scarf, an infinity scarf could be crocheted in rounds instead of rows.


    You would start off by crocheting a long starting chain, same as you would with most traditional scarves, but then you would use a slip stitch to join the end of the round to the beginning, forming a gigantic loop.


    From there, you crochet as many rounds as you want, to make your scarf the desired size.


    You can add an edging to the upper and lower edges of the scarf if you like. I did so in the infinity scarf pictured above.


    Then you finish your scarf in the usual way, by blocking if desired and weaving in any remaining loose ends.


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  • 06 of 07

    How to Crochet a Freeform Scarf

    James Walters and Sylvia Cosh popularized a technique of organic crochet patchwork which you can use to crochet freeform scarves or other projects. This way of working is free and creative; it does not require much pre-planning, and it doesn't tie you down to working from a pattern.


    On the other hand, you never quite know what you'll get. Every project is a brand new adventure! So if you're an adventurous crocheter, this might be a fun idea for you to explore for making scarves or...MORE whatever else you might like to try.


    If you want to crochet a scarf using this technique, follow the instructions given in their worksheet (linked above,) taking care to create your patchwork in a size and shape that would be suitable for a scarf.


    Freeform Crochet Scarf Tutorials


    The following tutorials are posted at other websites on the Internet:



    References and External Links


    I learned almost everything I know about freeform crochet by reading books written by Sylvia Cosh, James Walters and Del Pitt Feldman:


    The Crochet Workbook
    By Sylvia Cosh and James Walters
    ISBN #0312040326


    This book is hard to find; since it is out of print, you'll be at the mercy of the secondary market when looking for copies. If you can manage to find a copy of it, it's usually rather expensive. If you do not have access to a copy of the book, try reading through the freeform crochet worksheets at the authors' website; I highly recommend them.


    Crochet: Discovery and Design
    By Del Pitt Feldman
    ISBN #0385051336


    This is another out-of-print book that can be challenging to locate. This book was published in the 1970s, and looks it.


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  • 07 of 07

    How to Finish Your Crocheted Scarf

    Blocking Your Scarf:


    Some scarves will look nicer if you block them. This is particularly true of scarves crocheted in lacy stitch patterns using natural fiber yarns.


    Both knitters and crocheters use basically the same processes for blocking, so if you would like to learn how to do this I will refer you to Sarah E. White's blocking instructions.


    Not all fibers respond well to blocking. If I've crocheted a scarf out of synthetic yarn, I don't usually bother to block it.


    Adding Fringe to Your...MORE Crocheted Scarf:


    You may want to add fringe to your scarf. If so, see how to make fringe for a variety of different fringe patterns and tutorials.


    Weaving in the Loose Ends:


    If you've decided to add fringe to your scarf, it's possible that you might not have to weave in any loose ends; your loose ends could just become part of the fringe. Otherwise, be sure to weave in all the loose ends. Also, if you have loose ends from color changes or broken yarns in the middle of the scarf, you'll still probably want to weave those in, even if you are adding fringe. It depends on whether the ends could blend in with the rest of the fringe; if they don't, weave them in securely.


    Wearing Your Crocheted Scarf:


    Check out these easy ideas for how to tie a scarf.