Fisherman’s Rib Scarf and Cowl

How can any knitter resist a stitch pattern called "Fisherman's Rib"? The name evokes all our most romantic knitting associations: rugged men in densely cabled sweaters materializing out of the fog, abeam a windswept Scottish cliff. Luckily, Fisherman's Rib is as beautiful (and practical) as its name implies, lofty, springy, and super cozy.

But, let's face it, most of us aren't as rugged as your average fisherman. You will rarely hear a fisherman say anything like, "It's lovely, but maybe a little bit scratchy, don't you think?". So for the rest of us, I used the Fisherman's Rib, but not his yarn.

Instead, I took this opportunity to return to one of my very favorite yarns, The Fibre Company's Road to China Worsted. I used it three years ago for the Sullivan Street Bolero and have never forgotten its amazing softness and drape. It's such a gorgeous blend of baby alpaca, cashmere, camel and silk that even the most unweathered on your gift list will be happy with a Fisherman's Rib Scarf or Cowl. Just don't give one to the fisherman in your life. He would never look at his guernseys the same again.


The Materials

The Fibre Company's Road to China Worsted, 65% Baby Alpaca, 15% Silk, 10% Cashmere, and 10% Camel. This color is "Lapis".

For the Scarf

For the Cowl


The Patterns 



4 stitches = 1 inch in stitch pattern (unstretched)

Finished Size

7 1/2 inches wide (unstretched) and 62 inches long (unstretched), stretching to about 80 inches long.


Cast on 30 stitches.

Preparation Row: Purl.

Row 1: *P1, knit into the stitch below, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, p2. (See instructions below for how to "knit into the stitch below".)

Repeat Row 1 until you have used all 6 skeins, except for about 2 yards.

Bind off loosely in p1, k1 pattern (you don't have to knit into the stitch below for your bind off.).

Weave in the ends.

How to "Knit Into the Stitch Below"

Insert your right needle into the space right below the next stitch, shown here by the white arrow.

Knit as you normally would, allowing the stitch to fall off the left needle as usual (feels a little scary at first, but don't worry!).

If you turn your work over, you will see that 2 stitches are wrapped around the stitch you just made.




4 stitches = 1 inch in stitch pattern (unstretched)

Finished Size

17 1/2 inches in circumference (unstretched), stretching to about 28 inches in circumference, and 10 1/2 inches long.


Cast 70 stitches onto a 16 inch circular needle.

Place a marker and join for working in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

Preparation Round: Knit.

Round 1: *Knit into the stitch below, p1, repeat from * to end of round. (See instructions above for how to "knit into the stitch below".)

Round 2: *K1, purl into the stitch below, repeat from * to end of round. (See instructions below for how to "purl into the stitch below')

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until piece measures 10 1/2 inches from the cast on edge.

Bind off very loosely (use a needle one or two sizes bigger if you have to) in k1, p1 pattern (you don't need to work into the stitch below for the bind off.).

Weave in the ends.

How To "Purl Into the Stitch Below"

Insert your right needle from back to front (just like normal purling) into the space below the next stitch, right under the purl bump. The white arrow shows the spot.

Purl as you normally would, allowing the stitch to fall off the left needle as usual.

If you look below the stitch you just made, you will see that it is wrapped by 2 stitches.

32 Responses to Fisherman’s Rib Scarf and Cowl

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  1. Bree says:

    Beautiful scarf and cowl! One suggestion, post the Ravelry project link so it's easy to find and put in one's queue. Thanks!

  2. Carmel says:

    Wonderful!! they are beautiful and I love the color! Thank you also for the explanation on knitting into the stitch below….I had no clue and it never made sense before!!

  3. Nicola Gouldsmith says:

    Lovely clear directions, thank you! Nic x

  4. Joanne says:

    Please recommend your best cast on for the cowl. I have heard about the old Norwegian cast on, but I don't know it. Thank you very much.


  5. KC says:

    Hi! I love this pattern. Is there anything special that needs to be done to adapt the scarf for straight needles?

  6. purl bee says:

    Hi KC,
    No need to adapt the scarf for straight needles. Just follow the pattern as you normally would. Enjoy!

  7. C. K. Novy says:

    I've been knitting this, and I highly suggest slipping the first stitch of every row. Otherwise, at least with the yarn I've been using, you get strange, bumpy gapping on the edges.

    It's a fantastic pattern, by the way. Absolutely marvelous.

  8. Sylvie says:

    Thanks for this pattern :) I just finished a scarf for my brother with your pattern ! ^^

  9. Jeri says:

    Do you have a tutorial on how to un-knit a K1B? I am a beginner and am not sure of how to get back to fix a stitch.

  10. purlbee says:

    Hi Jeri,

    We don't have a tutorial but I can try to walk you through the steps, which are a little tricky!

    First, put the left needle into the stitch below the one you want to remove. Take the stitch off the right needle. Then, with your right needle, pass the second stitch over the first stitch (which looks like a loose strand). You will be left with a knit stitch on the left needle that is facing the wrong way. Replace it so it's correctly oriented and you're finally done!

    I hope this helps and good luck!


  11. Celia says:

    Would a sport weight yarn work as well?

  12. purl bee says:

    Hi Celia-

    Unfortunately sport weight yarn won't work for this pattern because the gauge is thicker. But the stitch pattern will still work for any weight of yarn.

    Please let us know if you have any more questions!


  13. Amy says:

    I agree with previous commenter. Knitting as prescribed with that purl stitch as the first stitch of the row makes the edge completely wonky. I actually can't believe a slipped edge isn't worked into this pattern – unless I'm doing something wrong. Going to rip out and try with a slipped edge. But wonderful stitch; it's a nice variation of a classic!

  14. truefeather77 says:

    Why are you bothering to switch k/p, back and forth? This pattern comes out exactly the same if you just knit 1, knit 1 in the row below. When you knit in the row below, essentially you are undoing the stitch that would look 'wrong' (as if it were purled) — it just comes out, and leaves the stitch in the row below, which is facing the right way. And in the valleys, that stitch just gets swallowed or enfolded. The whole thing looks beautiful, and the yarn stays in back the whole time!

  15. alice says:


    How do you do the k1, p1 bindoff at the end?


  16. purl bee says:

    Hi Turefeather77,

    Cool! I haven't done it, but I take your word! Thanks so much for the tip!


  17. purl bee says:

    Hi Alice,

    You work a k1, p1 bind off just like a regular bind off, but instead of knitting every stitch, you knit 1, then purl 1.

    It's really similar to a knit bind off, but this way, you keep the stitch pattern going so that your last round looks neat!

    Thanks for asking and good luck!


  18. alice says:

    HI Whitney-

    Thanks for that advice. I did it but the edging/Opeining is now so tight. Did i do something wrong?


  19. purl bee says:

    Hi Alice,

    Bind off rounds do have a tendency to get taut. Lots of knitters bind off with a needle one or two sizes bigger than the needle they used to knit the piece. Or you can just keep in mind that you want to knit your bind off very loosely.

    Another option is to explore less conventional bind off techniques that address this problem. We have a tutorial for a great one right here:

    I hope this helps!

  20. ikeuchiaya says:

    this pattern is not suitable 4 a gurl is it

  21. purl bee says:

    Hi ikeuchiaya-

    This pattern would be too large for a 4 year old girl.

    Thank you for your question!


  22. ikeuchiaya says:

    for those who slip d first stitch,did u add extra stitch or juz fixed with 30..

    n i found this from a book,its fisherman ribs bt d instructions….CO odd no..then knit 1 row..then Row1(RS):s1.*k1b.p1*2 end…Row2:s1 *p1.k1b* las 2 stitches p1.k1..rep R1 n R2…do u think ill stil get d same pattern as urs? coz i dun hve much i dont tink i can do try n error..thanx

  23. purl bee says:

    Hi ikeuchiaya,

    Usually if you're going to slip the first stitch, you incorporate that stitch into the pattern. In other words, you don't add an extra stitch.

    I don't think you'll get exactly this stitch pattern with the instructions you give, although you will get a nice a lofty rib of some sort!

    Thanks for your questions and good luck!

  24. ikeuchiaya says:

    Thanx that means ill have only p1 at the end of each row rite??thanx once again

  25. purl bee says:

    Hi ikeuchiaya,

    Yes, if I understand you correctly, that's true. Just to clarify… If you want to slip the first stitch of each row, the pattern would read like this:

    Row 1: Slip 1, * knit into the stitch below, p1 repeat from * to last stitch, p1.

    I hope this helps! Thanks again for your asking!


  26. Natalia says:

    Hi Whitney,

    I tried this pattern and got a strange knobby edge from the first purl stitch. I ripped my work out because I couldnt fix a dropped stitch. I'm a beginner.

    Before starting over just wanted to ask you, if I use the slip the first stitch pattern do I need a preparation row of purl stitches? If so, do I slip the first purl stitch?

    Thank you


  27. purl bee says:

    Hi Natalia,

    If you plan to slip the first stitch of every row, you do still need a preparation row of purl stitches. You might as well also slip the first stitch of that row, although if you didn't, it would be very hard to tell!

    I hope you're happy with your second attempt, and please let us know if you have any more questions!


  28. Natalia says:

    Hi Whitney

    My second attempt was turning out really nice. I'm was excited about this scarf until I dropped a purl stitch. I looked at a video on fixing purl stitches but this pattern's purl stitch looks different. Can you please explain how to fix this mistake? Thanks a million.

    I love this yarn, it's so soft!

    All the best,


  29. Eliza says:

    Hi! I love this scarf and would love to make it for a scarfaphobic man in my life…is there a comperable (soft) yarn to sub in as you no longer carry this one? It sounded like such a soft combination!

    Thank you!


  30. purl bee says:

    HI Eliza,

    Sure! I'd suggest you check out Blue Sky's Worsted: . Also, Jade Sapphire's 8 Ply Cashmere: . And Manos del Uruguay's Maxima: .

    All of those are really soft and beautiful, and for even more options, you can browse through all of our worsted weight yarns right here: . Please let us know if you have any questions about any of your options!

    Thank you for asking and good luck!


  31. tj says:

    Can the cowl be worked in 2 colors? For example the knit row in red and the pearl row in black. It sounds like it would work just thought I would see if anyone has tried that. Thanks I love this scarf and would like to make the cowl.

  32. purl bee says:

    Hi tj,

    Cool idea! We'd love to see how it turns out!


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