Men’s Mini Herringbone Scarf

I have accumulated quite a bit of neckwear over the years. Some bright, some bulky, some sleek, lots ecru, but hands-down, what earns me the most compliments is my Big Herringbone Cowl, scooped off these pages of the Purl Bee!

It is undeniably wonderful. After making one for myself, I was hooked on herringbone. It creates a flat, woven-like fabric on one side while remaining quite lofty and full on the other. It has a fascinating texture with a hypnotizing rhythm, and its drape is just  beautiful. Considering this unique combination of characteristics, I had to have more herringbone!

My scarf counterpart to Whitney's cowl showcases a mini-herringbone pattern, bordered by slip stitch rib edges. To highlight the timelessness of herringbone, I knit this scarf with Swan's Island Worsted, a sumptuously soft organic wool inspired by the rugged traditions of coastal knitting. I hope you find this pattern as classic and handsome as Whitney's cowl is modern and chic!




7 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in stitch pattern


7 1/2 inches wide by 62 inches long


All slipped stitches are to be slipped purl-wise.

The Mini Herringbone Stitch is always worked over an odd number of stitches.

Mini Herringbone Stitch

Wrong Side (WS): * P2tog and leave stitches on needle, purl the first stitch again and drop both stitches together from left-hand needle, repeat from * to last stitch, p1.

Right Side (RS): *Slip 1 with yarn in back, k1, then with left-hand needle raise up the slipped stitch as if to bind off but before dropping off right-hand needle, knit it and then drop from needle, repeat from * to last stitch, k1.


Cast on 55 stitches.

Row 1 (wrong side): Slip 1 wyif (with yarn in front), p1, k1, work in Mini Herringbone to last 3 stitches, k1, p2

Row 2 (right side): Slip 1 wyib (with yarn in back), k1, p1, work in Mini Herringbone to last 3 stitches, p1, k2

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 row until scarf measures approximately 61 1/2 inches or until desired length. Repeat Row 1 once more.

Bind off in pattern with RS facing. To do that... once you have bound off the three selvage stitches and are working the Mini-Herringbone stitch pattern, instead of knitting the slipped stitch as you slip it up and off the right-hand needle, as you have done previously, just drop the slipped stitch of the right-hand needle without knitting it.

Weave in your ends and block if desired.

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118 Responses to Men’s Mini Herringbone Scarf

  1. Abigail says:

    I have been looking for a classic pattern to knit a scarf for my brother. What I am really looking for is a pattern for a scarf he can wear with his winter dress coat. He is really not the outdoor, chunky scarf kind of guy. I want to do this in a kind of cashmere, silk blend yarn. Before I buy this yarn, I need some guidance in figuring out how much I should buy. I know I have to change needle size not to get guage but to get the fabric I am looking for. I also need to change number of stitches cast on. I need a scarf about 5" wide. How do I take this info and determine the amount of yarn I need?

  2. purl bee says:

    Hi Abigail.
    Let me see if I can help. Those are a lot of changing factors so what I am about to say is just an estimation.
    1. You will cast on an odd number plus 6 (3 stitches worked at each side, which will add about about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch to your total width).

    2. This scarf is 7 1/2 inches wide. If you wanted it 5 inches wide, that's 1/3 less. This scarf used approximately 500 yards… you were were knitting at the same gauge, you would need 300 yards. If you go with a thinner yarn, you will need more, thicker yarn, less.

    As for yarn substitutions… Jade Sapphire's 6-ply cashmere would be a wonderful sub (but of course it does not have silk in it). Another sub would be Manos' Silk Merino Blend (but it is hand-spun and might not be as refined looking as you'd like). Both would require a slight needle change, but you could figure that out when swatching.

    Abigail, if you swatch or pick a yarn and have more questions, please let me know. What a lucky brother you have to have a generous, knitting sister!

  3. sylvia says:

    hey! i'm a little confused about what you mean with the "with yarn in the back" and "with yarn in the front" if its purled, wouldn't i assume the yarn will always be at the back? i'm pretty new at this btw :) thanks!

  4. purl bee says:

    Hi Sylvia.

    When purling, the yarn is typically held in the front. When knitting the yarn is typically held int he back.

    Above you are to slip a stitch at the beginning of each round. On the right side you slip it with the yarn in back because the next stitch is a knit and so the yarn in then in the right place. Same thing goes for the back, you slip with the yarn in front so that the yarn is ready for the following purl stitch.

    Does that help?!?!

  5. alicia larrain says:

    Please can you send some photos because I can't understand the pattern and is so pretty
    I'd love to wear a scarf like yours, is beautiful, I'll apreciate so much thanks

  6. meadow says:

    Thank you for your beautiful pattern and wonderful help. Extremely hot summer here California, its perfect to stay indoors and knit.
    Is there any yarn in Blue Sky Alpacas I can use as substitutes? I love their suri merino, royal and worsted hand dyes.

  7. purl bee says:

    Hi Alicia,
    Unfortunately we do not have any additional photos of this stitch at the moment. Is ther a particular portion of that pattern you have having a hard time with, perhaps I could help walk you through it. Please let me know if I can help.

  8. purl bee says:

    Hi Meadow,
    The beauty of this pattern is that once you find a yarn you love and pair it with the appropriate needle that give it a nice drape (usually about 2 sizes up from what is recommended) it can be easily adjusted. After swatching, just be sure to cast on an odd number to reach the width you desire.

    The Suri Merino, Royal and Worsted Hand Dyes would all work. The Suri is thicker than the yarn I used, and has more of a bloom to it, but would probably be the best match of the yarns you're asking about. The Royal would be gorgeous; it's such a luxurious yarn, but is incredibly thin compared to what I used. The Royal doubled, would be lovely tho. The Worsted Hand Dyes might be a little too thick and stiff for this scarf. It already comes out fairly dense if you don't use the right needles, and the cotton is a bit less forgiving than the animal fibers.

    I hope this helps. Please let us (and our other reader) know how it goes.

  9. meadow says:

    Hi Laura,

    Thank you for your prompt and thorough answer. Now I think before I go for different yarns, I should choose the same yarn you use for this incredibly handsome scarf, so that I can be sure I reach the same effects. This scarf will be for my sister, I think natural/white will be lovely. Thanks again.


  10. meadow says:

    Hi Laura,

    I got Swans Island worsted Seasmoke, its such a beautiful yarn and I cant wait to start. I knitted a few rows this weekend, the right side looks the same as your picture, but the wrong side is totally different. Are they supposed to be the same, or similar? I saw your big herringbone cowl, two sides are different but the wrong side has herringbone pattern also. My mini herringbones wrong side almost looks like a basket weave. Thanks.


  11. meadow says:

    Hi Laura,

    Good news! I started over and knitted a 10×10 swatch, the right side looks exactly like your picture and its beautiful. I am going to officially start the scarf this weekend. Thank you!


  12. purl bee says:

    I'm so sorry you figured it out before I could get back to you.
    I'm so happy you figured it out.

    Hope you love the scarf. Please let me know if you have any questions on this project.

  13. Aisha says:

    Hi. I am struggling with the bind off. My scarf came out really beautiful, thank you for the pattern. But please can unexplain the bind off a little more.

  14. purl bee says:

    Hi Aisha,
    I will gladly expand on the bind off! Bind the first three stitches off in pattern. You will bind off the first two stitches in knit and the third stitch in purl, from there, you continue in pattern, so, you will slip one, then knit one, bind off that slipped stitch, but rather than knitting it, as you have done in the previous RS rows, you will just drop it off the needle. Continue binding off in pattern, the last three will be bound off in purl, knit and knit. Does this help at all? Please write back if you want further help!
    Thanks for writing in.

  15. Celeste says:

    I love the look of this scarf, especially the slip stitch rib border!
    I am planning on knitting this in the round, would the instructions change at all?

  16. purl bee says:

    Hello Celeste.

    Thanks for the compliments! Glad you like it.

    Unfortunately, right now, we do not have this pattern specific herringbone pattern written for working in the round. Working it inthe round would require changing the pattern quite a bit since you'd always be working on the right side. Working it in the round would also eliminate a place for the edge slip stitch edge. Good news is, this project was inspired by Whitney's Big Herringbone Cowl:

    If you were hoping to have this piece in the round in the other direction (with the edge along the top and bottom), you would just need to work the scarf flat and then join the beginning and end of the scarf by sewing them together or by doing a provisional cast on at the beginning and kitchener stitch at the end.

    Please let me know if you have any follow up questions!

  17. Allie says:

    Hello! I'm not sure if anyone has asked this yet.. but would knitting this project with Swan's Island bulky, in stead of worsted, pose any problems?


  18. purl bee says:

    Hi Allie.
    I do not believe anyone has asked that question. It's a great one. I think this scarf would be lovely in Swan's Island's Bulky.

    For the original, I used a US10 on a yarn that typically suggests a US7 or US9. So for Swan's Bulky, which recommends a US10.5, I would try this stitch pattern on a US11 or US12. Definitely swatch first thought. This is a very dense stitch, so be sure to go up enough needle sizes so that the resulting fabric is drappey enough for a scarf.


  19. Kay says:

    Thank you for this beautiful pattern. I have been knitting for over sixty years and never attempted a herringbone scarf. I have an issue with slanting. I was very excited to start this project, however after many starts and restarts I am confused as to why after 6 inches into it, it still slants. The pattern is consistent and clean looking, but wondering if there is something I'm missing. I know the recipient will not keep it blocked, so I'm trying to avoid that. I hope you can help

  20. purl bee says:

    Hello Kay.
    Thank you for writing in and I am so sorry this stitch is giving you a hard time. I do not know why it would be slanting. My best guess is that you work your knit side and purl side with a different tension that is not equally counter balancing one another, so the fabric is tending to one direction.

    I know a few other people have had an issue with slanting as well. I experience such a minimal amount and I am unfortunately at a bit of a loss as to how to direct you in fixing it.

  21. Devorah Sklar says:

    I absolutely love the mini herringbone stitch. Would it be possible to make a video and post on your site? It would make it easier. Please also do in Continental style.

  22. purl bee says:

    HI Devorah-

    Thanks for the suggestion. We'll keep it in mind going forward.


  23. Im says:

    If I were to use this yarn and needle size for the herringbone cowl, will the cowl have the same drape as using the yarn in the cowl pattern?

  24. purl bee says:

    Hello Im,
    This scarf is worked in Swan's Island's Worsted and it's a lovely yarn, a very soft merino. The Herringbone Cowl is knit with Blue Sky's Worsted which is an alpaca / merino blend. Alpaca is a heavier fiber than sheep's wool and therefore has a bit more drape. All that to say, Swan's Island's Worsted is not going to have quite the dense drape that the Herringbone Cowl has.

    Another note: Blue Sky's Worsted (used for the cowl) is much thicker than Swan's Island's Worsted which is on the lighter end of the worsted weight spectrum. So the gauge will be quite different and the cast on would need to be adjusted.

    Do hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  25. Lily says:

    Hi, just tried this and after dropping a few stitches decided to use lifelines. It's a very difficult stitch to unravel. Just feed a scrap piece of yarn through your loops every 10 rows or so and it will be easy to rip back if needed. ;)

  26. Janice says:

    I love this pattern! Could you possibly recommend a slightly less expensive yarn you carry that may work well for this scarf as well?

    Thanks SO much!!

  27. purl bee says:

    Hi Janice-

    Happy to oblige! Here are some less expensive alternatives.

    3 skeins of Cascade Eco Duo- very soft but unplied so it would give a slightly different look:

    3 Skeins of Cascade 220- Comes in a ton of great colors and would give a similar look. The color "River Rock" would make something very similar to the example:

    Thank you and good luck with the project!


  28. Mariya says:

    Hi! I love this pattern so much and after trying it out a few times have gotten the hang of it!

    I'm almost done with my first skein of yarn and was wondering, how would you recommend joining the yarn for this scarf? My first attempt was not very elegant-looking.

    Thank you!!

  29. Carol says:

    Hi – First let me say that I LOVE this pattern! I'm planning to make it for my dad for Christmas :) Quick question – I cast on 55 stitches. Then, row 1 says to Sl1, p1, k1, and then work the herringbone pattern (which is in increments of two stitches) to the last three stitches and then k1, p2. Ive done this twice now, and each time, I end up with 2 stitches at the end of the row, not 3. Doesn't slipping one stitch, knitting one and then purling one leave you with 52 stitches on your left needle – so 24 repeats of the herringbone pattern with 2 stitches left over? What am I doing wrong? Thank you!!!

  30. purl bee says:

    Hi Mariya,
    I'm glad to hear you are enjoying the stitch.
    I believe I joined at the edge, I slipped the first stitch and then began with the new skein. And then wove the ends in later, hiding it in the selvedge stitches.

    How did you join initially? Did you work a couple stitches with the end of the 1st and beginning of the 2nd skein held together? It's a pretty dense stitch, so that method might be a bit uncomfortable.

  31. Mariya says:

    Hi Laura!

    I ran out of yarn in the middle of a row so I think I started the next skein by working it into the next stitch. It didn't work so well for this pattern though.

    Thank you so much for your recommendation, I will definitely try it out!


  32. purl bee says:

    Hi Carol.
    Glad you like the scarf!

    Mini Herringbone is worked in increments of 2 and then there is one single stitch at the end, a p1 on the WS and a k1 on the RS. What I think is happening is that you are missing that p1 at the end of the Mini Herringbone pattern on the wrong side. You should be working in increments of 2 until the last 4 stitches, work the final stitch of Mini Herringbone and then the 3 selvedge stitches. It might be helpful to place a marker before those last three selvedge stitches, because it sounds like you are working them in Mini Herringbone by mistake.

    Please let me know if you have more questions on this!

  33. Joanna says:


    I have a question about this step of the instructions: P2tog and leave stitches on needle, purl the first stitch again and drop both stitches together from left-hand needle. When you "purl the first stitch again", are you referring to the stitch on the top or bottom as the first?
    Thanks so much for your help!!

  34. purl bee says:

    Hi Joanna,
    Ok, so first stick your right needle into the first two stitches on your left needle, purlwise, from back to front. Loop your working yarn around your right needly and pull the loop through the two stitches on the left needle, but don't drop those stitches off your left needle. Now, place your right needle into the first stitch on your left needle purlwise, just as you would normally purl a stitch if told to p1. That first stitch is the one closest to the tip of the left needle. After you purl it, then you can drop those two stitches off that left needle.
    Hope this helps. Please write us anytime!

  35. Vonda says:

    I love this pattern. I'm still confused on the mh (mini herringbone) stitch for the ws. How can I purl the last stitch in mh, and then do mh to last 3 stitches in row 1? Seems like I have to do one or the other. Or, do I do mh to last 4 stitches, p1, then k1, p2??

    If I work first and last 3 stitches apart from mh, and mh pattern is worked with 2 stitches, dropping them both every time, I just can't figure out where that "purl the last stitch" comes in.

    I know you've probably already answered this, but still not following. Sorry.

    And thanks!

  36. purl bee says:

    Hello Vonda.

    If you take the selvedge stitches and the Mini Herringbone stitch pattern and combine them into 2 rows of instructions, this is what it would be…

    Row 1 (WS): Sl1 wyif, p1, k1, * P2tog and leave stitches on needle, purl the first stitch again and drop both stitches together from left-hand needle, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, p1, k1, p2

    Row 2 (RS): Sl1 wyib, k1, p1, *Slip 1 with yarn in back, k1, then with left-hand needle raise up the slipped stitch as if to bind off but before dropping off right-hand needle, knit it and then drop from needle, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, k1, p1, k2

    I hope this helps.

  37. cheryl says:

    Love this.
    How do I work the edge
    thank you

  38. purl bee says:

    Hi Cheryl,
    The edge or selvedge stitches are worked row by row along with the Mini Herringbone stitches. (It is not created after, which is what a lot of people thing upon first glance.) They are the first three and last three stitches of each row of instruction.

  39. Illi says:

    Hi Laura,

    Can I substitute the yarn you suggested with Lion Brand's Fisherman's Wool? Please let me know when you get a chance. Thank you!


  40. purl bee says:

    Hi Illi.
    You definitely can! It looks to be a bit thicker than Swan's Island's Worsted which is actually quite light for a worsted-weight yarn. Just be sure to make a swatch before casting on for the scarf. This Scarf tends to knit up on the dense side, so you'll probably want to go up a needle or two larger than what is recommended. Lion Brand recommends a US9, so maybe a 10 or 10.5?
    Let me know if you have any other questions.

  41. Helen says:

    Hi Laura. I seemed to have gone from 55 to 53 stitches somehow. Is there a way you recommend to get the two stitches back??

  42. purl bee says:

    Hello Helen,
    Oh goodness. My first recommendation is to pull out the scarf to the error(s).

    My second recommendation would be to increase on the right side, in the purl stitches, between the stitch pattern and the selvedge stitches.

    The goal is to recover, but also to interrupt the fabric as little as possible. This might mean leaving it alone. It depends on how perfect you'd like your final product.

  43. Von says:

    Can you make a video for this beautiful scarf?

  44. purl bee says:

    Hi Von-

    Thank you for the suggestion! We don't currently have plans to do a video on this stitch pattern but we will certainly keep it in mind going forward!

    If you have an specific questions we'd be happy to answer them here in the comments section.

    Thank you!


  45. Cynthia says:

    I love this pattern, do you think it would translate well to stripes? I am envisioning big stripes like the amazing seed stitch wrap.

  46. PiaLuna says:

    ***Please Help!!!***
    I've made a mistake on my mini herringbone scarf that has taken me foreverrrrr to knit (as a Christmas present for my Dad, mind you)……And I don't know how to rip it out! I'm getting really really discouraged and heartbroken…. :(
    Can I rescue it? Can you tell me how?
    Thank you so much!

  47. purl bee says:

    Hello PiaLuna,
    Do not fret. My best suggestion is to take your work off the needles and slowly start pulling the stitches out. Watch very closely to see how the working yarn and stitches all interact (how each stitch is built). After watching a few rows slowly, it should be easy to pull down as far as you need, past your mistake, and then run your needle through the live stitches.
    I do hope this helps. If you have worked a large portion of this piece already (and it sounds like you have) you should be able to recognize if you have picked your stitches up correctly or not.

  48. purl bee says:

    Hi Cynthia.
    I bet this stitch pattern would be really interesting in large color blocks or thick stripes. Let us know how it goes!

  49. Alice says:

    Hello Laura – love this pattern. A bit difficult to correct if you make a mistake. Was trying to adapt a favorite hat pattern I have to this stitch. If I did this stitch in the round, without the borders, I would need an even number of stitches and would only do the RS rows, correct?

  50. tulpee says:

    I love this pattern,thanks for sharing it!

    Actually while knitting the scarf, I also started a smaller version for a headband. which turned out really nice. If anyone is interested in a preview:

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