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How to Finish Knitting a Scarf

Klara Nilsson | Updated on May 8, 2023

Knitting your first scarf is fun, but finishing the project can feel daunting. You’ll have to learn how to bind off, how to weave in your ends, and how to add a decorative fringe – if you choose to do so. Here, we’ll teach you how to do all of these things, so you can easily end your first knitted scarf without any hiccups.
How to End Knitting a Scarf

Most beginners choose to knit a scarf as their first knitting project. This is for good reason – they’re easy to start, quick to work up, and a great way to practice the absolute basics of knitting.

It’s easy to get to the final stages of knitting a scarf, but actually finishing the project is much harder. In fact, it’s one of the most common obstacles beginners face during their first project.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to end knitting a scarf in the easiest way possible. You’ll learn how to cast off your scarf, how to weave in your ends, and how to finish knitting a scarf with a fringe or tassels, too.

Summary: How to End Knitting a Scarf in 9 Simple Steps

  1. When the scarf has reached your desired length, it’s time to bind off.
  2. To begin binding off, knit the first and second stitch. With your left needle, lift the first stitch over the second stitch and off the right needle completely.
  3. Knit the third stitch, then lift the second stitch over the third stitch and off the needle.
  4. Continue this process until you’ve only got one stitch left on your right needle.
  5. Cut the end of the yarn, leaving a tail behind.
  6. Pull the tail through the final stitch left on your needle.
  7. To begin weaving in the tail, pull it through the eye of a tapestry needle.
  8. Using the needle, weave the tail into the bind off stitches along the edge of the scarf.
  9. You have now cast off, woven in your ends, and finished knitting the scarf.

How you end your knitted scarf will make a big difference to how it eventually looks and feels. If you’re not careful, you can easily end up with puckered stitches, loose ends, or uneven edges.

By following these tips, you can avoid these common problems and finish your scarf in an hour or two. If it’s your first knitting project, you’ll be able to use the information in this guide for all of your future projects, too.

For more expert advice and instruction, it’s also worth considering a knitting class. We recommend ‘Learn the Basics With a Simple Scarf’ by Davina Choy on Skillshare – it’ll take you through every step including casting on, knitting, binding off, and weaving in your ends.

What’s In This Guide?

How Are Scarves Usually Started, Knitted, and Finished?

Scarves are amongst the easiest knitting projects for beginners. In fact, you can work up a basic scarf using just knit and purl stitches, straight needles, and some chunky yarn.

To start, simply cast on enough stitches to your desired width, then keep knitting rows until the scarf reaches your preferred length.

A standard knitted scarf is around 8-10 inches wide on average. With mid-weight yarn and 8mm needles, you’ll need to cast on approximately 25-40 stitches to reach this width – but you can make it wider or longer depending on your preference.

Basic Scarf Knitting Pattern
A basic scarf knitting pattern with a decorative fringe by DarlingJadore on Etsy.

Once the desired number of stitches have been cast on, bring the working yarn across the back of the work and knit it together with the first stitch on the left-hand needle. This secures the cast-on stitches and prevents them from unraveling.

The types of knitting stitch you use for the body of the scarf will depend on the particular scarf pattern you’re following. The easiest patterns will use simple knits and purls with some ribbing, cables, or brioche stitching for texture and warmth.

Using these techniques, keep adding rows until the scarf reaches your desired length. At this point, you’ll be ready to bind off and finish knitting the scarf completely. We’ll show you how to do this in the next few sections.

If you’re thinking about knitting your first scarf but you haven’t started yet, we recommend considering an easy chunky scarf knitting pattern or a beginner’s scarf knitting kit.

If you choose a kit, it’ll come with a simple pattern and all of the materials you need, including the right yarn weight and type of knitting needles.

The Materials You’ll Need to Start & End a Scarf

To start and end knitting a scarf you’ll need a pair of knitting needles, approximately two skeins of yarn, some scissors, and a tapestry needle. You may also need a smaller pair of knitting needles.

Most knitted scarves use just one or two skeins of yarn. The chunkier the scarf, the less yarn you’ll use overall. However, this can vary depending on the stitch technique, style, and size of the scarf.

Materials to Knit a Scarf
The materials you’ll need to start and finish a basic knitted scarf.

You can work up a scarf with needles anywhere from 5mm to 15mm in diameter. If you tend to knit loosely, you should use smaller needles. If you knit tightly, use larger needles. Generally speaking, it’s best to simply use the needles suggested in the pattern instructions.

Remember: if you use a different yarn to what’s suggested by the designer, you will also need to change your knitting needle size to get the correct knitting gauge.

To bind off the stitches, you will need to use a needle that is smaller than the one you used to knit with. This will help to create a neater edge. After binding off the stitches, you’ll need to use a tapestry needle to weave in the ends.

How to Cast Off a Knitted Scarf

When you reach the end of knitting a scarf, you’ll first need to bind off the ends to keep the stitches from unraveling.

There are multiple different ways to bind off your knitting. We’ve listed the easiest method here, so you can finish knitting your scarf in the simplest way possible.

If you have trouble with any of the terminology used in these sections, you can refer to our guide to knitting abbreviations and symbols for help.

Here’s the easiest method to bind off a knitted scarf:

  1. Once you’ve reached the length you want the scarf to be, it’s time to cast off.
  2. Knit the first stitch as if you were beginning a new row.
  3. Knit the second stitch.
  4. Use your left needle to lift the first stitch over the second stitch and completely off your right needle.
  5. Knit the third stitch.
  6. Use your left needle to lift the second stitch over the third stitch and completely off your right needle.
  7. Repeat these steps until you’ve only got one stitch left on your right-hand needle.
  8. Cut the yarn, leaving a ‘tail’ of approximately 6 inches.
  9. Use your fingers to pull the tail through the last stitch, make sure it’s secured tightly.

The method above is the “regular” way to bind-off your knitting. It matches the long-tail cast-on method, and is generally the easiest way to end knitting a scarf.

If you have a tapestry needle or crochet hook nearby, you can also try the crocheted bind-off method, which is still suitable for beginners.

It involves cutting the remaining live stitches from their needles, leaving a long “tail” of yarn. This tail is then threaded through a tapestry needle or crochet hook and used to sew up the loose ends on the back of the scarf.

Here’s a video demonstrating how to cast off your scarf using the “regular” method:

Now you’ve bound off your scarf, you’ll need to weave in your ends, trim any excess yarn, and add a decorative fringe if necessary. We’ll explain how in the next few sections.

How to Weave in the Ends of a Knitted Scarf

After you’ve cast off, you will need to finish your scarf by weaving in the ends. This is a crucial step to prevent the stitches from unraveling. It will also hide any mistakes or loose spots you’ve made along the way.

Just like with binding off, there are multiple ways to weave in your ends. The methods we’ve listed here are the simplest and easiest for beginners following basic scarf patterns.

Here’s how to weave in the ends of your scarf:

  1. If you haven’t already, cut the yarn a few inches away from the end of the scarf.
  2. Thread a tapestry needle with the yarn.
  3. Insert the needle into one of the end stitches on the edge of the scarf.
  4. Bring the needle out of the stitch and insert it into the next stitch.
  5. Repeat this process until you have woven in all of the ends.

If you’ve used more than one ball of yarn, you’ll have more than one yarn tail to weave in. In this case, you can weave both tails in a similar fashion, but one of them will have to be woven into the body of the scarf instead of the end.

The exact method for this will depend on the stitch you’ve been using. If you’ve used stockinette stitch, you can use a tapestry needle to weave the ends in on the back or ‘wrong side’ of your work.

To do this, bring the tapestry needle down through the ‘bottom’ stitches and up through the ‘top’ stitches.

Here’s a video explaining how to weave in the yarn ends of your scarf:

Once you have woven in all of your ends, it is time to block the fabric. This will help the scarf keep its shape and texture over time, as well as smooth out any mistakes. To do this, gently wet the fabric in warm water or steam and then leave it out to dry completely.

How to Add Tassels Or a Fringe to a Knitted Scarf

Finishing a scarf with tassels or a decorative fringe is a great way to end your project. It’ll add some personality and hide any loose ends you may have missed in the previous step.

You can add tassels in a number of ways, but the method below is the easiest. Before you start, you’ll need to find some excess yarn, scissors, and a crochet hook.

Here’s how to add a fringe to a knitted scarf:

  1. Count how many stitches there are across the end of the scarf to work out how many lengths of yarn you’ll need. These yarn lengths will be used to create the fringe.
  2. For a dense fringe, you’ll need two lengths of yarn per stitch. For a looser fringe, you’ll need one length of yarn per stitch. If you want to add a fringe to both ends of the scarf, you’ll need double this amount.
  3. Once you’ve worked out how many lengths of yarn you’ll need, you can begin cutting them from your excess yarn. These strands will be folded in half later, so make them twice as long as you’d like the final fringe to be.
  4. Take one or two strands of fringe yarn and fold them in half.
  5. Insert a crochet hook or tapestry needle into the first stitch at the end of the scarf and pull the folded end of the yarn through about one third of the way. This will create a loop on one side of the scarf, while the ends of the yarn hang on the other side.
  6. Take the end of the yarn strands and thread them into the loop on the other side of the scarf.
  7. Pull the loop tight to create a knot. This is the first tassel in the fringe.
  8. Continue adding one or two pieces of yarn to each stitch and repeating this process.
  9. Once you’ve finished, you can trim the ends with scissors or leave them as they are.
  10. Repeat the same process at the other end of the scarf.

Here’s a video demonstrating how to add a fringe to a scarf:

How to Add Length to a Scarf That’s Already Finished

Adding a fringe is one way to lengthen your scarf, but it will only get you so far. If you want to make a noticeable difference, you’ll have to knit some additional rows.

It’s easiest to do this before you’ve bound off, when the scarf is still on your needles. To do this, simply cast on a few more stitches and keep knitting rows until the scarf reaches your desired length. Then you can bind off and weave in any loose ends.

Adding length to a scarf you’ve already bound off is more complicated. You’ll need the same needle size you used for the main body of the scarf, as well as some yarn in the same weight and dye lot as the original piece.

Here’s how to add length to a finished scarf:

  1. Insert the tip of your knitting needle under the first bind-off stitch. Wrap the yarn around the needle as if you were going to knit, then push the needle through.
  2. Keep wrapping the yarn around your needle and slipping the needle under each bind-off stitch.
  3. Do this until you have the same number of stitches on your needle as the width of the scarf.
  4. Now you have the right number of stitches, you can continue knitting rows as you did before you initially bound off.
  5. Keep knitting until you have reached your desired length, then bind off the stitches as usual.

Common Problems When Finishing a Knitted Scarf

Ending your first knitted scarf can be tricky, especially if it’s your first knitting project. Casting off is fairly straightforward, but you can face a number of potential problems if you don’t weave in your ends correctly.

Here are some common problems beginners face when finishing their first knitted scarf:

Weaving In the Ends Too Loosely

If your ends are not woven in securely, they may come loose over time. This won’t just look bad, it may cause the scarf to unravel completely.

The most secure way to weave in your ends is to use a tapestry needle. Thread the yarn through each bind-off stitch and pull tightly to secure it.

If you notice the ends coming loose over time, revisit the work and weave them in again.

Weaving In the Ends Carelessly

If you don’t weave in your ends neatly, they can create an ugly knot or bump on the scarf.

If you’re concerned, we recommend using a tapestry needle to avoid unsightly ends. Thread the needle with the yarn ends and gently poke it through the loops on the other side of the work.

This should hide any bumps on the wrong side of the work, leaving the right side looking neat and tidy.

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