Friday, 13 January 2012

Pull-Apart Scarf

Awhile back my mom told me about this scarf that she used to make all the time that she called a pull-apart scarf.  She got the pattern from her mom, and her and her sisters used to make it and at this point none of them has any idea where the pattern came from.  My mom described it to me and I thought she sounded nuts so finally I got her to give me the pattern so I could try it out myself.  Her version of the pattern was hand-written on a yellowed index card.  All this is to say that I did not design this but I did make a few amendments to make it work better.

So here it is!  I have given the yarn and needles that I used but yarn, gauge, and needle size are not that important for this project.  

I used Cascade Soft Spun, but unless you have six or so hours to spend on pulling this thing apart, I recommend using a worsted to bulky weight yarn that is fairly smooth (boucle or other fuzzy yarns would be a terrible idea) and spun fairly tightly.  That said, the finished product knit with soft spun is SO soft and luxurious.  So perhaps it's worth it, but that's your call.

Yarn: 150-220 yds of your favourite worsted, aran, or bulky weight yarn.
Needles: dpns appropriate for chosen yarn (5 mm for worsted weight works well)
Gauge: not important

Beginning of scarf:
CO an even number of stitches that is divisible by 3 (for worsted weight yarn 30 stitches is appropriate, but adjust as necessary).  Long-tail cast on is a good choice.  Divide stitches evenly over 3 needles and join to work in the round.

Work k1, p1 ribbing until piece measures 1.5".  This is to keep it from curling since stockinette will curl.  You may also do this portion in seed stitch if you prefer (Rnd 1: k1, p1, repeat to end.  Rnd 2: p1, k1, repeat to end.  Repeat these two rounds until appropriate length.)

Body of scarf: 
K1, yarn over (YO), repeat to end of round.  You should be starting each needle with a knit stitch and ending each needle with a YO.  It is very important that after this round you do not move the stitches around on the needles. After this round you should have double the number of stitches that you began with (60 if you started with 30).

Next round, K all stitches.  Continue in stockinette stitch until you have approx. 10 yards of yarn left.  Leave more if you are worried about running out.  (I had about 8 yards left before this last part and after binding off I had less than half a yard left.)

At this point the piece will look like the ugliest, baggiest, most ridiculous sweater sleeve in the world.  It will also not look long enough for a scarf.  But just trust me.

End of scarf:
K1, drop 1, repeat to end of round.  You should be back to your original number of stitches (30).  This is why keeping track of your YOs at the beginning is important.  You want to make sure that the YOs line up with the dropped stitches.  Otherwise, terrible things will happen (earthquakes, floods, indigestion, you name it).

Begin k1, p1 ribbing again (or seed stitch) for another 1.5" (or until you have just enough yarn left to bind off).  BO loosely in pattern.

Now comes the fun part, and is where the scarf gets its name.  Begin pulling apart the dropped stitches until they have all pulled right down to the YOs at the beginning.  If you have used a smooth yarn, they should pull apart very easily.  If you are crazy like me and used a fuzzy or loosely spun yarn, this process will take much (MUCH) longer.  Once complete the scarf should be 2-3 times as long as it was before dropping the stitches, and the stitches will be very loose.

Weave in all ends, and you're done!

This piece can be worn like a normal scarf, or you can tuck one end inside the other end to create a loop, place the join at the back of your neck and wrap around to wear as a cowl!  This is how I prefer to wear mine.  The ribbed bit at the end helps keep the other end from sliding out, plus when it's inside a coat it's not going to go anywhere anyway.  

Enjoy!  Feedback is encouraged as I have never written out a pattern before.  Thanks for reading!


  1. Hi, yes, know that pattern well. They have been called Circular or Tubular Drop St Scarves..... in Australia :-))

  2. I've never heard of such a thing! But think I want to try it. Sounds like a fun process.

  3. so happy I found this pattern! thanks for writing it all out, now I have to try it

  4. I'm checking my stash for this one! Sounds fun!

  5. Yep, this one is going in my to make folder... Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing! I have not seen this type of scarf but I am looking forward to casting on - have the stash already picked out. Thank you!

  7. I just finished your scarf and love it! It was so easy to knit - I did most of it in the car on the way home from our lake house which was a 4 hour drive. I measured 17 " then dropped my stitches and finished the ends. Overall the scarf is 40". I loved pulling it apart!

  8. Hey!

    I'm quite new to knitting and this loose pattern on the scarf is EXACTLY what I've been searching for! The only problem is I haven't learned to knit in the round year and I don't even have the tools for it =/ Is there a way of adapting the pattern so that it would work as a flat scarf? Any help is much appreciated~,

    1. Hi Carrie! Unfortunately I don't think this scarf would look very nice as a flat scarf. You could cast on half the number of stitches at the beginning (or however many stitches you want), knit a few rows of the ribbing back and forth, and do the row with the yarn overs. After that you would have to knit every right side row, and purl every wrong side row. after dropping every other stitch at the end this would give you a loose scarf in stockinette stitch, but stockinette stitch tends to curl badly at the edges. Since the pattern as written is knit in the round, there are no edges to curl so it's not an issue.

      I would encourage you to try knitting in the round if you do get the tools for it, it takes some getting used to but you'll be glad you tried! However if you do want to knit a scarf in a loose sort of pattern I would recommend something like the Mile a Minute scarf - . It's pretty and I know other beginner knitters that have done it and it turned out beautifully.

      I hope this helps, happy knitting!

  9. THanks for getting back to me quickly haha! The reason I wanted to find an alternative was I wanted to do it in my days off work today and tomorrow and I can't get the needles in time for that haha =P

    One thing I have practiced successfully, though I've never finished a project that uses it, is knitting double layers on normal knitting needles. Would that work out as an alternative? ^_^,