Afghan Seam Scarf

afghan seam scarf

So you have a new knitting machine. You have been practicing casting on and binding off, and have learned to keep a good tension on the yarn, the correct number of weights, and a nice rhythm while pushing the carriage back and forth. You have a great collection of swatches. Are you getting bored? Great! It’s time to knit something! A simple scarf is a good first project.


 

While it is tempting to just knit long strips of plain knitting, also known as stockinet, this is actually a bad idea. Stockinet rolls inwards. It rolls a lot.

Rolled scarf

 

Machine knit stockinet seems to be even worse for this than hand knitting, but they both do it. Modern “soft” acrylic is even harder to work with than the stiffer stuff we all loved to hate a generation ago. The older ones could be blocked with a steam iron…even putting a slight amount of pressure on the fabric in many cases. Now many of them go completely limp with just steam. You really, really need to test on a swatch before blocking your garment.

Simple scarves are one of the best patterns to learn how to use your machine. They are actually nothing more than very large swatches, so how intimidating can that be? If you do not want to make the decorative latched afghan seam, you could simply sew the long edge together. This would probably be more suitable for a man. Stripes are also used on scarves, either a series of small stripes on the ends, or wide bands of two or three colors, repeating the length of the scarf.

Materials
For this pattern, you will need approximately 6-8 oz of yarn that knits to a gauge of 16 sts, 24 rows per inch. This should be a fairly soft or loose fabric, since the scarf will be double thickness. There aren’t many coned machine knitting yarns manufactured in this weight. Frequently you can double thinner yarn to get this gauge. For handknitting yarn, those with a 3 or 4 on the label are what you need. This does vary a bit. Some that say they are a 3 are a little thin; likewise some that say they are a 4 are too thick. My LK 150 is 20+ years old, and well-broken-in. It handles nearly every yarn except super-bulky ones. A stiffer machine will be a little pickier about what you feed it.
 
You will also need 2 safety pins, and if at all possible a rug latch hook. It looks very much like a large latch tool, but is much easier to use for seaming.


 

This pattern makes a strip of fabric that is 10 ½” wide and 60” long before seaming.

Bring 44 needles all the way forward. Return the second needle from each edge to position A (out of work.) The needle set-up is now 1 in work, 1 out of work, 40 in work, 1 out of work, 1 in work. Carriage on right. E-wrap cast on. New knitters might find it easier to begin with waste yarn; knit about an inch with waste yarn, ending with carriage on left, then knit 1 row ravel cord, ending with carriage on the right. Change to main color and e-wrap cast on over the ravel cord.

Row counter 000. Hang weights. Knit even to row counter 300, moving weights up as necessary. Remove each end stitch onto a safety pin. Cut yarn, leaving a tail approximately 3 times the width of the working needles. Change to waste yarn and knit 10 rows on the 40 center stitches; remove from machine. Thread yarn tail into a blunt tip yarn needle and backstitch loosely through the live main color stitches (just below the first row of waste yarn.) You could also backstitch the main color stitches while still on the machine, if you prefer. Do not knit waste yarn in this case; instead, thread main color yarn tail into needle and backstitch through the live stitches.

The photo below shows the edge stitches removed onto safety pins. A rug latch hook is on the right, and a bulky latch tool is next to it. My rug hook has a bend in it; some of them are straight, like a machine latch tool. Either works well.

safety pin and latch hooks

 

Join sides together using Afghan Seam technique

This decorative seam is frequently used to join vertical afghan seams. It is much faster than sewing with a yarn needle, and easy to learn. You can use either the latch tool that came with your machine, or a rug latch hook.
A rug latch hook works much better. It has a larger hook, with blunter tip, and catches multiple strands of yarn without splitting them. Alternatively,you could also use an aluminum crochet hook, size J or K preferably.

 
Note: I waited to bind off the completed scarf until after the seam was joined. It was easier to illustrate where the seam begins by leaving contrast yarn attached.

Remove the safety pin from the right side of the scarf. Using the tip of the hook, pull out the edge stitch. This creates one long loop on the edge. Pull out another loop on the edge, then slide both of them down behind the latch.

seam step 1

 

Remove the safety pin from the left side of the scarf. Pull out the edge stitch. Instead of creating a loop, this will just loosen the main color yarn tail. Pull out the next edge stitch. Take this loop, and the yarn tail into the hook, then pull them through the loops that are behind the latch. Slide these new loops down behind the latch.

seam step 2

Go back to the right side of the scarf. Pull out two edge loops, then pull them through the stitches behind the latch. Continue in this manner as established, alternating sides. Fasten off the final loop with the yarn tail.

seam step 3

 

Lay the joined scarf on a large flat surface and arrange the seam evenly into the center. Pin the ends together so they cannot shift. Either sew the ends shut, or add fringe (which will also close the ends.)

Now comes the best part of this pattern. It lies flat! This scarf has not been blocked by any method. It hasn’t even been washed. It probably would look a little better with a shot of steam, but is certainly acceptable like it is. For a charity project I wouldn’t bother with any more fussing.

This shows the scarf before the ends have been seamed. Even at this point there is no curling.

afghan seam

 

afghan seam scarf

And the final result


 

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