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Laura's Loop: Reversible Stripes Scarf

With an itch to make a scarf, I found myself happily lost in the pages of Barbara Walker's seminal "Treasuries" of stitch patterns. Intrigued by the rhythms and possibilities of her slip stitch patterns, I think I tried them all. And then I finally combined a couple, a bit of Woven Stitch and a dash of Linen Stitch and voila, a reversible stripe!
This magical world of slip stitches has me firmly in its clutches. How else could there be a simple knit fabric with so much complexity and fascination?!? One side of this stitch pattern is smooth and flat, seemingly woven, with impeccably thin horizontal pinstripes; while the other side is textured in deep, hearty ridges, running in vertical stripes like a knotted tweed. 
When wrapped, folded, and tucked around your neck, this scarf is delightfully dizzying! It achieves all I hoped for and more. No curled edges and two sides that aren't just both presentable, but whose contrast in pattern and texture actually enliven and complement one another.
In the spirit of the love and generosity of Valentine's Day, I knit up my scarf in Jade Sapphire's unparalleled Zageo 6 Ply Cashmere. An elegant yarn for a timeless scarf,  it is amazingly soft and toasty warm. If only I had the heart to actually give it away! --Laura

Update: October 2013

Pictured above, and below, is a new version of the Reversible Stripes Scarf using a combination of Jade Sapphire's Zageo 6 Ply Cashmere and Alchemy's Kozmos, a wonderfully complex yarn that adds texture and shine. I followed the original pattern (below) with one modification: a cast on of 55 stitches, resulting in a more generous finished dimension of 9 inches wide x 92 inches long. -Laura

The Materials

You can get all the yarn you'll need for this scarf with our Yarn for Reversible Stripes Scarf kit. Each kit includes either...

Or for the new version...

  • 4 skeins of Alchemy's Kozmos for Yarn A, in the color Silver.
  • 3 skeins of Jade Sapphire's Zageo 6 Ply Cashmere for Yarn B, in the color Ivory.

For the original all-cashmere version, I used the color Pewter for Yarn A and the color Ivory for Yarn B. Pictured below are swatches of nine additional available colorways, each one available as a Yarn for Reversible Stripes Scarf kit!

  • Top Row, from left: Silver Fox (Color A) + Pewter (Color B), Silver Pearl + Cousin Coral, Pink Panther + Silver Pearl
  • Middle Row, from left: Ivory + Pink Panther, Ivory + Silver Pearl, Pewter + Silver Pearl
  • Bottom Row, from left: Ivory + Cousin Coral, Silver Pearl + Silver Fox, Cousin Coral + Pink Panther
For this project, you will also need:

The Pattern


6 stitches = 1 inch in stitch pattern

Finished Dimensions

Original Scarf (all 6 Ply cashmere): 8 inches wide by 72 inches long
New Scarf (6 Ply Cashmere and Kozmos): 9 inches wide x 92 inches long
Swatches: 3 1/2 inches square

Pattern Notes

If you would like to adjust this pattern for a different width, simply cast on any odd number of stitches.

Slip stitches purl-wise.

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!

Begin Scarf

With Yarn A, cast on 49 stitches (or 55 stitches for the 6 Ply/ Kozmos version). 

Row 1 (wrong side): Turn, and slip 1 with yarn in front (wyif). With Yarn B, *p1, slip 1 with yarn in back (wyib), repeat from * to end. 

Row 2 (wrong side): Slide, and with Yarn A, *p1, slip 1 wyib, repeat from * to last stitch, p1.

Row 3 (right side): Turn, and slip 1 wyib. With Yarn B, *k1, slip 1 wyif, repeat from * to end.

Row 4 (right side): Slide, and with Yarn A, *k1, slip 1 wyif, repeat from * to last stitch, k1.

Repeat Rows 1-4 until piece measure 71 1/4 inches.

Repeat Rows 1-3

In Yarn A, bind off in knit.  

Begin Swatch

With Yarn A, cast on 23 stitches.

Repeat Rows 1-4 until piece measures 2 3/4 inches.

Repeat Rows 1-3

In Yarn A, bind off in knit.

Reader Comments (96)

Hi There,

I am having trouble with this pattern. I can do the first 4 rows right, Then when I go to repeat rows 1-4 it starts looking wrong and is not flat, the stiches are lumpy and tight. They look very wrong.. I have tried about 10 times and the same thing keeps happening. Do you have any idea what I could be doing? I am sliding and turning the work and slipping the stiches purl wise. I know I am doing the first 4 rows right because they look perfect, I must just be making a mistake at the part when you start repeating, I cant work out what it is that I am doing wrong.
May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaire
Hi Claire,

I have a couple questions... Regardless of the bumpy / tightness, are all your horizontal flat stitches on one side and all your vertical bumpy (purl) stitches on the other side? If yes, then this might just be a tension issue. Have you tried changing needle sizes?

If your horizontal stipes and vertical stripes are not on their respective sides, then this is a larger issue going on. My first guess is that you are knitting with the wrong yarn. Make sure that you are working with one color and then the next, alternating back and forth.

Can you describe to me how the fabric looks?
I'd love to help you get this figured out.
May 21, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Thank you so much for your reply, I will try with bigger needles and get back to you. I love the look of this scarf. I am determined to get it right :)
May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaire
Hi Laura, thank you so much for this beautiful pattern. I mixed white and multicolor yarns and the colors really made this pattern so much fun to knit. I'm at the last row and the bind off makes me nervous. When binding off in knit with color A, do you also knit color B stitches, or do you slip them? I think knitting them makes it uneven. Could you include a picture of that edge?

Thanks so much!
October 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnh
Hi Anh,
I bound off knitting each stitch. But I definitely encourage you to play around with the bind off edge to find a method that better suits you.

If you take a look at the picture of the grid of swatches with the horizontal stripes (right side) facing out... you can see the knit bind off edge on those.

Let me know how it goes for you and if you find that slipping that stitch has a cleaner look!
November 1, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I am having trouble purling with the yarn in the back. Is this called Norwegian purl?, or can you purl with yarn in front? Thanks, donna
November 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna
Hi Donna.
You only slip the one stitch with the yarn in back, then you purl normally, with the yarn in font. I am not sure what a Norwegian purl is, but I am definitely going to look it up now!

Definitely let me know if you have any more questions on this or other patterns.
November 5, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Fabulous! I am hooked on this elegant and flat fabric!

Q: is there an easy way to see which row you left off on? I have twice picked this up and not known which side or color to start next. I can always tie a loop before I put my work down. If there is a more apparent way to tell from the knitting, I'd be grateful for your advice!

November 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennyV
Hi Jenny V.
Great question! The best way to figure it out (that I found) was to look at the RS of the scarf and see what color the top most horizontal stripe is. That is the color you last worked.

I ran into the same problem when I first started this scarf.
Hope this helps.
November 13, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I have forgotten how to print just the pattern. thank you
November 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary Jane
Both of the links to the kits do not seem to be working today.
November 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
Hi Karen-

Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention. The links should be fixed now!


November 13, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Mary Jane-

We recommend that you copy and paste the instructions and photos you need into a Word or Text doc and print from there.

Thank you!

November 13, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
thanks, Molly, Will be so happy to make such an unusual and beautiful scarf
November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary Jane
If I wanted to make the scarf with Kozmos and Jade Sapphire Cashmere but only 72 inches long, could I get away with w skeins of cashmere and 3 skeins of Kozmos?
November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKat
What cast-on do you recommend?
November 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbette
Hi Kat.
2 skeins of cashmere + 3 skeins of Kozmos will definitely get you to 72 inches long x 8 inches wide!
November 15, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Bette-

We recommend a long tail cast on.

Thank you!

November 15, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Molly,

Thank you for this distinct and beautiful pattern. What do you think if I use Blue Sky Alpacas “Suri Merino”, or Swans Island “worsted weight”?
November 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermeadow
Hi Meadow.
Laura here, of Laura's Loop. Weight-wise, Swan's is a wonderful substitution. And texture-wise, Suri Merino is too. The Suri might be a bit on the thick side, so just be sure to swatch first so that you don't end up with too stiff or dense a fabric. Are you combining them? That'd be beautiful.
November 25, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Thank you for this pattern. Instead of coming into purl soho I thought I'd ask you here... My edge is curling up, what's going on and should I stop and solve this or continue? Thanks!
December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine
Hi Catherine.
Once the piece is blocked, any scrolled edges should relax. If you are worried if blocking will actually solve the problem, you can always transfer your live stitches onto scrap yarn and steam block (with an iron, hovering above the fabric) what you have to be sure this will solve the problem.
December 8, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I'm a relatively new knitter and this is my first slip stitch pattern. Will the slip stitches increase the tension, or am I just holding the yarn too tight because I'm trying way too hard not to mess up? :) The good news it looks just like the pattern...and it's beautiful!
December 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAllison
Hi Alison.
That is good news... the fact that you are a new knitter and your fabric looks right is HUGE. Slip stitch patterns can really trip people up. Good job. As for the tension.... I think you've answered your own question. I bet you're just pulling a bit too tight in all the excitement of learning something new. I would maybe swatch a bit more and see if your tension loosens or just practice a bit to see if you get in a rhythm. I would hate if one end of your scarf was a totally different density than the other, which might happen by the time you relax into this stitch pattern.
So glad you like the pattern.
Let me know if you have any other questions.
December 17, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Laura,

That's what I was thinking...knit the pattern for a while, get comfortable, then start over again. I don't want a trapezoid instead of a rectangle!

Thanks so much for your help!
December 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAllison
On row one, if we turn the work, after casting on, when we start row 2, the thread is on the wrong side. What am I doing wrong? Thanks for your help!!!
January 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterClaire
Hi Laura,

Thank you for sharing this elegant pattern with us.

I am making several swatches. Everything turns out good except the edges. They are much thicker than the fabric itself, I think I misunderstood the “Color B is pulled around the edge and across the first slipped stitch”, as was in one of the comments.

In Row 1 (wrong side): Turn, and slip 1 with “YARN” in front (wyif). Is this “YARN” yarn B?

In Row 3 (right side): Turn, and “slip 1 wyib”. Is yarn B supposed to be pulled under to be the “behind” yarn? I hope I am not confusing you.

One last question: I would like a use a silk and alpaca blend as one of the yarns, but I am not sure whether silk might be stretchy. I saw Alchemy Kozmos is 30% silk, so silk is fine?

It will be a great project if it all work out.
January 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSharon
Hi Clair.
Thanks for writing in.
This is a single row striped pattern worked flat which means 1. it has to be worked on circular or double pointed needles and 2. you have to slid your stitches to the other end your needles every other row. Be sure to check out the PATTERN NOTES section above. Please write us back if you have any other questions or are still confused on this.
January 14, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Sharon,
Let's do the easiest question first... Silk and Alpaca would be lovely. Be sure to swatch first to guarantee you're working on appropriate needles (it sounds like you're an avid swatcher which is great!).

In Row 1 (wrong side): Turn, and slip 1 with “YARN” in front (wyif)... is with YARN A, then when it says "with YARN B"... you begin working with yarn B. Keeping YARN A in front when slipping that first stitch will help with your edges.

In Row 3 (right side): Turn, and “slip 1 wyib"... this is with YARN A, then when it says "with YARN B" you knit 1... and YARN B is being pulled under the behind yarn, yes, you are correct.

Please write us back with any more questions!
I do hope you end up loving the scarf. It's been one of my favorite things to wear these past few months.
January 14, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Would this work with kauni effect self striping yarn plus a solid color?
January 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLila
Hi Lila-

We are not familiar with that yarn but as long as you are getting the same gauge as in the pattern it should be fine. If the yarn is self striping you might get a very cool color effect.

Good luck with the project!

January 16, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Laura,

Sharon here. After many tries, so far I have one edge, left side of the wrong side, almost perfect. But the other side for some reasons still not right, I have to practice more. My beautiful yarns have arrived and I can’t wait.

Do you have tips for preventing two yarns from getting angled? Thank you for your patience!
January 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSharon
Hi Sharon.
I'm glad one edge is looking ship shape. Let me know if you have specific thoughts on the other edge.

As for the tangling skeins. WhenI work with two I usually keep one in my lap and the other in a little zip pouch. Also with this piece, I found it helpful.... when you turn your work, typically people always turn it in the same direction. To help prevent tangling though, turn it clockwise one row and turn it counter clockwise the next time. That way the two strands won't wrap around one another endlessly.

Keep us posted on your progress / thoughts on the pattern.
January 20, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Laura,

I finally figured out how to knit the edges neatly, plus I did seven, yes, swatches, mixing three different yarns and six colors. Now I am ready to start! What I am going to use is Blue Sky Suri “Fog” and Blue Sky Metalico “Cinnabar”. The combination is soft and subtle (Cinnabar is very fine), a surprising discovery. If I didn’t simply throw them together and tried a swatch, I would have never guessed.

Thank you for your advice, encouragement and of course, your pattern. Alternating the turns worked too. I don’t have a website, when I finish I might try to email you (Soho) a photo.

Warm regards,

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSharon
Hi Laura,
What a gorgeous scarf!
I would like to make a poncho using this stitch/pattern and I have a couple of questions:
1) I plan to use Purl Soho Worsted Twist (Heirloom White and Timeless Navy)
I noticed that with the recommended yarn (zageo 6 ply) you sized up by one needle size. Would you recommend that I size up to a size 9 needle with the worsted twist?
2) When comparing to a stocking stitch, would you say this stitch uses more or less yarn per inch?
I plan to do a tension square, but any help you can give me would be great. -Thanks.
January 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBristi
Hi Brisit!
So glad you like the stitch pattern.
1. Yes, I would definitely go up in needle size, 1 or 2 sizes, or whatever creates a fabric that is appropriate for your project. This stitch pattern can be quite dense, so going up in needle size lets the stitches breath a bit and makes a drapier fabric.
2. Yikes, great question. Although I don't really know. I would say yes. It has a very shallow row gauge so in order to get a similar height of fabric it definitely requires more knitting. Do let me know your thoughts on it if you come to any big conclusion.
January 27, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Laura,

One more question. I love columns of purl bumps on the wrong side, especially the lighter color yarn pops out while the darker recedes. The bumps showed up very nicely in swatches, using the yarns I mentioned in my last post, but when I started knitting full size, the bumps flattened out. I took the fabric off the needle overnight, now the bumps show up better but still not as much as I would like. Do you think I should have used a different size needles, size up or down? Thanks.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSharon
Hi Sharon.
Interesting. Fascinating how the fabric responded to coming off the needles. You could go down a size, but I would careful to not make too dense a fabric. Let us know how it goes!
January 29, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Laura,

Oh boy, I am a little obsessed with this scarf. I dug into my stash, found Madelinetosh Vintage “Book Grey”. Using Suri “Seamist” as yarn B, now at 8” long I am totally thrilled! Bumps couldn’t be more pronounced, it’s so much easier to knit than this last one (too delicate looking I admit). It’s not dense at all with size 7 needles, and it has the “Purlsoho look” like yours. Love it, I will go for all the 92 inches! One needs to completely love the outcome to sustain long hours of knitting.

Again, thank you for your help – talking to the designer directly makes it SO special!

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSharon
This is really pretty and I understand the directions when I read. But I have never worked with two yarns... After casting on Yarn A how do you start incorporating Yarn B in the Row 1?
February 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSheila
Hi Sheila,
Great question. When you begin working with a new strand of yarn, you simple start knitting with it. Be sure you leave a 6 or so inch long tail so that you can weave in later to secure it. The first stitch is usually a bit loose, but you can usually adjust that when working the next row or by gently pulling your tail.
Please let me know if you have any other questions. This is a great one and I will add it to our list of tutorials to add to the site!
February 17, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Laura,

I just wanted to say thank you for this lovely pattern.
I made it for my boyfriend for Christmas. At first it was little bit difficult, but then it turned out just perfectly.
People are even asking my boyfriend at which shop he bought it ;)

Thank you!
March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca
I've finally had a chance to start this scarf, and though it admittedly takes a little while to show progress, I am totally in love with the resulting "fabric." Kudos to you folks for not trying to get a book out of such a lovely and innovative technique ("Weaving Without a Loom for Everyone") and letting the pattern go for free. I am already tempted to try the technique on other garments and I wonder if you or anyone who has used the pattern has adapted the technique to any other items. If so, what and how did it work out?

March 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterraane
I found this when looking for a scarf that would complement a Tychus (knitty). It is a striking knit!

I CO 60 stitches for an extra wide scarf, forcing the recipient to show both sides when he folded and wrapped it. I also ran a single chain stitch round the edges after knitting it as long as I wanted it. The chain edging covered a few mistakes I made in slipping first stitches from the wrong side. Thank you for this pattern. It really came out well.
March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFiberFollies
A question about rows 1 and 3. The first stitch is slipped. Then the repeat is p1, sl 1 to end for row 1, and k1, sl 1 to end for row 3. Should I assume the last stitch is slipped too? Row 2 ends with p1. Row 4 ends with k1. Basically we slip the first and last stitches of rows 1 and 3. I just want to make sure I understand it. This may be a beginner's question for reading knitting patterns. Thank you for your help.
June 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
I am so sorry, I have just now seen this question.
I have not adapted it to any other pieces, but have been wanting to!
Have you? How'd it turn out?
Apologies again for missing this comment. Thank you so much for writing in.
June 28, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

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