Seed stitch is perfect for beginners because it’s made up entirely of knits and purls. To make things extra flexible, I’ve designed this pattern to be totally customisable for whatever yarn and needles you have. It just involves some basic, non-scary math.
So, let’s talk seed stitch. This is a beautiful, easy-to-knit, nubby textured stitch that lays flat and is fully reversible. It’s more dense than stockinette stitch, which makes it really warm and perfect for a cowl or scarf.
While this is post is not a pattern, per se, it’s a very detailed guide for how you can create your own scarf or cowl pattern using your own yarn and needles. Let’s get started!
Materials I Used in this Post:
Yarn: Tjockt Martta the Merino in color Sunset (super bulky one-ply yarn)
Needles: one pair of 10mm bamboo needles (similar)
Notions: soft tape measure (similar)
Step 1: Choose Yarn and Needles
Quick note: steps 1-5 are for knitting a cowl, but the same principles apply for figuring out the width of a scarf.
Head to your local yarn or craft store and choose a yarn that you’d like to knit with. Look at the yarn label to find the “Recommended Needle” size. Use this as a guide for choosing your needle size.
My yarn label suggests a needle size between 10-15mm, so I’ve chosen to use a pair of 10mm circular needles that are 24″ long.
If you’re knitting a cowl, a circular needle with a length of 24″ is ideal. The needle size will depend on your yarn weight.
Keep in mind that a thin yarn will take longer to knit and a thicker yarn will be quicker to knit. The yarn I’m using is a super bulky weight yarn (for thick and quick knitting).
Step 2: Choose a Width For Your Cowl
Determine how wide you’d like your cowl to be. You can use a soft tape measure and wrap it around you neck to figure out the ideal circumference.
I want my cowl to be narrow so that it hugs my neck, so I’ll make it 25″ in circumference. Write down your ideal width. We’ll call this number B.
Step 3: Knit a Mini Gauge Swatch
Knit a swatch with your yarn and needles to figure out how many stitches make up 4″ of fabric. We’ll call this number A.
Scrub ahead to the 17:11 mark in the video above to see how to knit and measure your swatch.
Step 4: Determine the Number of Cast On Stitches
Now it’s time for some math! Not the hard stuff that’ll make you cringe and cry. Just some basic middle school math.
We’ll use the below formula to figure out how many stitches to cast on to get your ideal cowl width. If you want to hear me talk you through this process, scrub ahead to the 16:05 mark in the video above.
A = number of stitches that make up 4″
For me, using my yarn and a 10mm needle, 13 sts = 4″
B = ideal cowl circumference
For me, I want my finished cowl to be 25″
Divide B by 4″ (For me: 25 / 4 = 6.25)
Multiply that number by A (For me, 6.25 x 13 = 81.25)
That’s your number of cast on stitches!
If you’re knitting a cowl, round up to get an odd, whole number. I can’t cast on 0.25 of a stitch, so I need to round up or down to a whole number. Seed stitch in the round requires an odd number, so for me, I rounded up to 83.
So now I know that in order to get a cowl with a width of 25″ with my particular yarn and needles, I need to cast on 83 stitches. That’s my magic number!
Step 5: Cast On
Now that you’ve got your magic number, go ahead and cast on using your favourite cast on method. I like the longtail cast on. (LINK). Then follow the instructions for a scarf or a cowl below.
Knit a Seed Stitch Scarf (Knit Flat)
Cast on an EVEN number of stitches
Row 1: *knit 1, purl 1; repeat from * to end of row
Row 2: *purl 1, knit 1; repeat from * to end of row
Repeat Rows 1 and 2
Knit a Seed Stitch Cowl (In the Round)
Cast on an ODD number of stitches and join in the round, making sure not to twist stitches
Round 1: *knit 1, purl 1; repeat from * to last st, knit 1
Round 2: *purl 1, knit 1; repeat from * to last st, purl 1
Repeat Rounds 1 and 2
When your scarf or cowl is the length you like, then cast off in pattern. Scrub ahead to 22:08 mark in the video to watch this in action.
*** Major shoutout to Petra M. Greening, a lifestyle blogger here in Hong Kong, who did a super job modelling the seed stitch cowl in seriously humid weather. What a trooper!