Striped Stockinette Snake

After years of knitting for my nieces, I am thrilled to now be knitting for my very first nephew. As it turns out, a dear friend of mine, Natalie, also recently welcomed her first nephew, and like me, she wants to shower him with handsome hand-made treasures. It's been quite some time since Nat picked up her needles, and so she turned to me for some tech support and basic hand holding. Together we each knit up a Striped Stockinette Snake. For Natalie, it proved a very helpful reintroduction, and for both of us, it became the perfect present for our baby nephews!

Along the way, we conquered the I-cord, learned how to increase and decrease both to the left and the right, and explored the characteristics of stockinette stitch. As seasoned knitters know, fabrics made out of stockinette stitch curl along the edges. Often stockinette is paired with another stitch pattern to keep the piece laying flat, but for our purposes here, the naturally curled edges are just what we needed! We were able to knit flat (rather than in the round) and still create a tubular, snake-like object. Pretty nifty!

To add to some more snakiness I incorporated single-row striping, using two beautiful self-ombreing yarns, Cascade's alpaca-merino Eco Duo. With rows and rows of easy stripes, boredom never strikes as the two yarns fade in and out from darks to lights. It's nearly hypnotizing.

Whether it gets lovingly dragged around or slyly stacked on a shelf, this super simple Striped Stockinette Snake will slither its way into your dear little boy's (or girl's!) heart! -Zia (Aunt) Laura




5 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch


68 inches long


During the stripped portion of this pattern, each row in this pattern starts with the instructions to either "Turn" or "Slide" the work:

"Turning the work" means to do what you would normally do when knitting rows with a circular needle. That is to say, put the needle in your left hand into your right and the needle in your right hand into your left, and flip the work around so the opposite side is facing you.

"Sliding the work" means to keep the same side of the work facing you, and to push all the stitches to the right end of the circular needle. Without turning the work, start the new row as you normally would.

You will know that you're doing this right if the yarn you need to complete the next row is magically there waiting for you!


The Tail

With color A, cast on 4 stitches.

Work in an I-cord for 1 inch.

The Body

Continuing with color A, you will now begin working in rows of stockinette stitch.

Row 1: Purl.

Row 2: Knit.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 three more times.

Next Row: Purl.

Add the Stripe

Row 1: Turn work, knit with A.

Row 2: Slide work, knit with B.

Row 3: Turn work, purl with A.

Row 4: Slide work, purl with B.

Repeat Rows 1-4 one more time.

**Increase Row: Turn work, with A, K1, make 1 right (m1R), knit to last stitch, make 1 left (m1L), k1. (2 stitches increased)

Repeat Rows 2-4.

Repeat Rows 1-4 four more times.

Repeat from ** 11 more times. (28 stitches)

Repeat Rows 1-4 until piece measures approximately 65 inches. End the last repeat with Row 2.

Cut B.

Shaping the Head

Row 1: Turn work, purl with A.

Continuing with A, you will now be working back and forth in stockinette stitch.

Increase Row: K8, m1R, k1, m1R, knit to last 9 stitches, m1L, k1, m1L, knit to end. (4 stitches increased)

Next Row: Purl.

Repeat last two rows 6 more times. (56 stitches)

Next Row: Knit.

Next Row: Purl.

Decrease Row: K8, ssk, k1, ssk, k1, ssk, knit to last 16 stitches, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k1, k2tog, knit to end. (6 stitches decreased)

Next Row: Purl.

Repeat last two rows 4 more times. (26 stitches)

Decrease Row: K8, ssk, knit to last 10 stitches, k2tog, knit to end. (2 stitches decreased)

Next Row: Purl.

Repeat last Decrease Row. (22 stitches)

The Mouth

Cut yarn, leaving an 8 inch tail. Thread tail with a tapestry needle. With the right (knit) side of the fabric facing you and your tail on the left, thread the tail through all 22 stitches, starting with the far right stitch. You'll be creating a circle of stitches like the top of a hat. Pull the tail taut and weave in the end to secure.

The Eyes

Using thread to match, sew on two buttons for eyes. I placed mine low towards the mouth and fairly wide apart. Different placement will give your snake a different attitude!


Weave in any remaining ends and you're finished!

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46 Responses to Striped Stockinette Snake

  1. Debbie says:

    I love this! My kids (2 boys, 2 girls ages 1-8) all want one. I think I will try one without the stripes first, though. Stripes intimidate me, even though reading the instructions, they don't seem too complicated. For girls you can always use pink and make rosy boas (my husband loves reptiles and we have a real rosy boa). I seriously think I will start this tonight! Thanks for the great idea and pattern!

  2. Anna says:

    Now THIS is truly fabulous. Love it love it love it.

  3. Stephanie @ SKWestDesigns says:

    Love this pattern! So cute even though it's a snake and the colors are perfect.

  4. frances says:

    This is so cute! I'd like to make one for my son, and I'm thinking about knitting it with a noro yarn, but they get a little less yardage to the skein. Can you tell me if you had some yarn left over, or if this pattern pretty much takes up both skeins? Thanks!

  5. purl bee says:

    Hi Frances,
    You can get two snakes out of two skeins of Eco Duo (197 yards each) so each snake takes just under 200 yards. This pattern super easy to adjust to your yardage though. Once you've added the stripe and before you get to the head oof the snake you can go longer or shorter… whatever you'd like.
    Let us know how it goes!

  6. karen wicker says:

    I love it.I am working on some presents for my 10 yr old granddaughter who has a birthday in a couple of weeks.She is not a girly girl.She would love it.I just finished a John Deere Scarf and a Georgia bulldog hat for her.Still have something to do in Camo.The snake is on my list.Thank you so much.She is gonna have so much fun with this,Her mama won't though.I have a feeling she will be her first target….lol

  7. Fran says:

    I am such a nerd, before I can even think of starting this, when you say to slide the work, does that mean you will actually have a circle, since the working yarn will be on the left of the piece and you are starting to knit on the right edge? It seems like this is what will happen but I sort of expected that you would say that for those of us who are nerds… “you know you did this right… magically appears” is not working out in my head. Sorry… Thanks.

  8. purl bee says:

    Hi Fran,
    I totally understand. I like to read patterns first to make sure I know what I have ahead of me. With single row stripping however, it really is something that makes more sense when you have the needle and yarn in your hands.

    Essentially, you will work one row with A and then you will want to make a strip with B, but B will still on the right side of the fabric (with right side facing), so you need to slide your work over to work with B. After you do that, both your yarns will be on the left side of the fabric (with right side facing) so at that point you'll have to turn your work. Then, once again you will work in A, but to work the following row in B, you'll have to slide… and on and on…
    Try it out.
    But let me know if you have any more questions.

  9. Fran says:

    Laura, thanks much, I think I 'missed' the part about having a second color of yarn… I look forward to making a few of these, little boys in the family now, after 3 generations of little girls (including mine!) Thanks again

  10. e says:

    this snake is so cute! What's the chance it could be used as a scarf-ish neck wrap by my mod 28 yr old niece? Too weird? Thanks,

  11. Charlotte says:

    This is so cute! Can you tell me the names of the colors of the yarn you used? It is kind of hard to tell from the pictures. Thanks

  12. Renee says:

    I'm with Bonnie — This would make the coolest scarf! What is the width of the fattest part of the body? And the head?

  13. purl bee says:

    Hi Renee,
    The fattest part of the body only gets up to about 3 inches wide. And the head is only about 4 at most. You lose a lot of width to the curled edges.
    Hope this helps.

  14. purl bee says:

    Hi Charlotte.
    The colors are listed under the Materials portion of the pattern. I used the colors Zebra and Chickory. Glad you like the pattern!
    Thanks for writing in.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Am getting ready to start my first snake. I'm a new knitter so I was reading the instruction to make sure I knew all the increases and decreases. I noticed on the first decrease row you SKK. I can't find that term in any of my glossaries. Was this a typo -should it be SSK? Thanks

  16. purl bee says:

    Oh no. It is a typo! Thank you so much. I will correct the pattern now.
    Thanks again,

  17. claire says:

    First of all, Thank you to share this great pattern with us!
    I've just begun to knit it today and I have a question:
    for the increases of the body: you repeat from ** 11 more times…
    Do I have to repeat the 11 increase rows in succession or Do I have to repeat Rows 2-4 and rows 1-4 four more times after each Increase row?

    Hope you understand my english… I'm french and it's difficult to explain in english!!!


  18. purl bee says:

    Hi Claire.
    Great question. You do NOT repeat the Increase row in succession. You repeat Rows 2-4 and then 1-4 four more times after each Increase row. And your English is very good!
    Thank you for writing us.

  19. Christy says:

    I started making this snake this evening, and it is turning out great! I can not seem to stop knitting it but to take a quick break, it's so fun watching it develop. I am making this for my husband and I am going to try to sew in a small bell or two just above the tail where the opening starts under the belly. He asked for a rattlesnake! Thank you so much for sharing this fun pattern.

  20. anna says:

    What a great project!!! My son and daughter would LOOOVE this (though hubby would hate it — he hates snakes).

  21. Katie says:

    Hello, thank you for this great pattern! I started yesterday and am about half-way through. I have two little boys, so I love seeing boy-oriented patterns, which are sometimes difficult to find. At first I thought I would use a machine-washable (and less expensive yarn), but then I thought, my boys deserve high-quality gifts as well! :)

    I am also an owner of a LYS and carry the eco-duo. I will have this snake as a sample with directions to your website for the pattern. Thanks again and best wishes! :)


  22. Halle says:

    This pattern is wonderful. I am a beginner when it comes to knitting so i only made the snake out of one color. Anyway, this pattern is amazing and I am almost finished with it, but part where it describes now to make the mouth. I dont understand at all how to sew the tail in like it is saying.

  23. purl bee says:

    Hi Halie.
    Glad you like the pattern. Once you are down to 22 stitches, cut your yarn and thread it on to a tapestry needle. Rather than turning your work, keep the right side facing you. The yarn should be on the far left. With the threaded tapestry needle, bring the yarn through the live stitches on the needle. You can slip the needle out. Pull the yarn taut and weave in your tail. This will cinch the stitches into a little circle.
    Hope this helps!
    Thanks for writing in.

  24. Susan Aitkin says:

    My son is a Herpetologist, what a wonderful gift! I cannot wait to see his face. He is so hard to find the right gift to give him, this will do it .
    I have a comment about your web site. When the patterns are printed out they use so much paper and ink. Is there some way you can get it so we only do one photo and just the pattern in a smaller font. The snake took 17pgs and the golf covers took 19pgs. That is after I went to the print page. I do appreciate your web sight and that the patterns are free, but just thought you should know how much paper is being used.
    Thank you for all the time and energy that goes into your web site.

  25. purl bee says:

    Hi Susan-

    Thank you for your kind words about the pattern.

    We are aware of the printing issue and hope to address it in the future. In the meantime we recommend that copy and paste the text and pictures into a word or text doc and print from there.

    Thanks for writing in!


  26. Elizabeth says:

    I knitted 2 snakes for my niece and nephew for Halloween. They love them. They plan to wear them as scarves if the weather ever gets cold in California. My sister loved them so much she has requested one for herself for Christmas. Since she is allergic to wool it was somewhat of a challenge to find cotten yarn that might work. I'm going on a road trip over Thanksgiving. This is the perfect car knitting project. Thanks again for the pattern.

  27. Lily says:

    Hi, I'm about to start this. Is it knit flat and then seamed? I don't see where you say to join in a round, but I also don't see instructions to seam. Thanks for the help!

  28. purl bee says:

    Hi Lily,
    After the first inch of i-cord, you work the remainder of the snake flat. The edges of stockinette stitch fabrics tend to roll and that is what is happening here. It looks like the snake is knit in the round, but really the edges are simply rolled under.
    I hope this helps.
    Let me know if you have any other questions.

  29. Lily says:

    Thanks Laura! So is it possible then to use a straight needle? Thanks again.

  30. purl bee says:

    Hi Lily,
    That is correct.
    You cannot use straight needle for this project.

  31. masr says:

    Did you make this 65 inches as stated in the directions? About how many more rows after the increases are complete? Can you clarify the part of the instructions that should be between the **? I wasn't quite sure what part to repeat. Thanks. It seems to going ok so far and looking forward to completeing this.

  32. purl bee says:

    Hi Masr,

    The finished length of my snake was 68 inches. Once the piece measured 65 inches I began Shaping the Head.

    You repeat from the Increase Row up to the Row of instructions that says to Repeat, In other words, you repeat all of the following 11 more times:
    **Increase Row: Turn work, with A, K1, make 1 right (m1R), knit to last stitch, make 1 left (m1L), k1. (2 stitches increased)
    Repeat Rows 2-4.
    Repeat Rows 1-4 four more times.

    Let me know if this isn't clear.
    Hope you like the snake.

  33. ThailandGirl says:

    Oh i love this one.

  34. Vivienne says:

    I love this pattern. I made one version in black and purple for my son to wear on purple Fridays (go Raven's), and another in black and pinks (with ribbon flowers and sparkling eyes) for a costume accessory. I'm now making a rainbow and red one for an AIDS fundraiser donation. It's so much fun.

  35. Charlotte says:

    I made one snake already from yarn I had in my yarn stash and my son loves it and is taking it to school tomorrow for show and tell! I'm already half way through my second as this project is so much fun and a great gift for some of my boy's bug/snake crazy pals. Thanks so much for the pattern.

  36. Ellen says:

    Love the pattern, but am having such trouble with it tonight! Using dpn.. I understand the sliding and turning the work. But how do you carry the yarn up the edges… Mainly when starting row 3? The edges are looking a bit wonky when I try to carry up the color. Many thanks!

  37. purl bee says:

    Hi Ellen,
    The good news is that since the edges curl under naturally, they won't be too obvious. But if you are like me, you'll want them to be nice and smooth anyway. You can simply bring them up the side or you can twist the previous row's yarn with the next row's yarn to carry it up more inconspicuously. Either way, what will make them most smooth is a consistant tension. Resist the urge to pull too tightly, this will make the edge bunch or gather.
    Let me know if you have any other questions.
    Thanks for writing in.

  38. knittylizzie says:

    i'm about to start the "stripes" (only using one yarn). how do i knit (right-handed knitter here) using the right needle when i slide the work i just did back to the tip of the same (right) needle? i can't make my needle turn into a circle and then it would get stuck in the yarn permanently anyway! how do i use the same needle to knit on itself?

    i have no idea what to do now! i have two needles (a circular needle) and can't just use both needles in the same hand or knit with the left needle because then every turned row would be left-handed knitting anyway.

    HELP! how does knitting on the right needle with a second right needle work!? everything i've ever knitted goes from the left needle onto the right.

  39. I am surprised that nobody who knit this with only one yarn mentioned that this eliminates the turning and sliding. I knit this with only one multi-colored yarn and just did a long of knitting and purling, but the pattern needed some adjustments. For example in rows 1-4, where it says to turn and slide, you just row 1 knit, row 2 purl, row 1 knit, row 2 purl. Maybe this is obvious for experienced knitters, but for a novice (such as the comment above by @knittylizzie) this could be rather confusing! Love my snake though. It turned out great!

  40. purl bee says:

    Hello Knitty Lizzie, I am so incredibly sorry I did not see your comment until now. If you are working the Snake without the stripes you simple work in stockinette stitch, knitting the front and purling the back. You eliminate the single-row-stripe technique involving the sliding of the stitches.

    Did you figure it out on your own, already?
    I am going to email you!
    Again, my apologies,

  41. purl bee says:

    Shared Threads,
    Thank you for for writing in to share your experience with the pattern.
    Happy to hear you are happy with your snake.

  42. Andrea says:

    There is a little girl here in Boulder Colorado who is beyond sad that Santa doesn't bring snakes. This will be perfect for her birthday! Thank you!

  43. Brigitte says:

    Wunderschöne Schlangen.
    Meine beiden Enkel ( 2 und 4 Jahre) wären begeistert, wenn die Oma diese Schlangen stricken würde.

    Leider kann die Oma kein Englisch.
    Wie schön wäre es diese Anleitung in deutscher Sprache zu bekommen.

    Lieben Gruss

  44. Brigitte says:

    Wunderschne Schlangen.
    Meine beiden Enkel ( 2 und 4 Jahre) wren begeistert, wenn die Oma diese Schlangen stricken wrde.

    Leider kann die Oma kein Englisch.
    Wie schn wre es diese Anleitung in deutscher Sprache zu bekommen.

    Lieben Gruss

  45. Anita says:

    What age range would this snake be appropriate for? A friend's grandson will be ten soon but I fear he is too old for the snake.


  46. purl bee says:

    Hi Anita,
    I personally didn't know the answer to this, but I asked around and a few mom-friends on mine say they think this may be too young of a gift for a 10 year old. Unless of course he just LOVES all things snake related… in which case it could be cool I guess.
    Thanks for writing in.

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