11.14.2012

Tutorial: Four Strand Braided Yarn Scarf

I looked over at my basket of leftover yarn the other day, and realized it was full to overflowing. Bits of this and a few yards of that were piling up in absurd quantities. I started asking myself that age-old question: "What am I going to do with all these leftovers?"

So many leftovers! What's a girl to do?

I know there are a lot of patterns out there that call for using leftover skeins. A lot of you are knitting up Beekeeper's Quilts or thinking about a Surplus Stripes, but those patterns call for a single weight of yarn. If you're like me, you have all different weights of yarn in a large variety of colors and fibers that wouldn't necessarily look great together in one project. What to do with those?

I decided to get a little crazy. I snatched up all my leftovers, grabbed a pair of scissors, and cleared out the floor of my studio. I wound up with the most amazing, luxurious, warm scarf ever:

And what do you wear with such a big scarf? Jeggings, thigh-high boots, and a heavily beaded tee, naturally!

 This project is fabulous for leftovers, because you can combine absolutely anything and it will still look great! I happened to have quite a few strips of felted cashmere that I added to mine, but I've also gotten great results by adding some ribbons and novelty yarns, too. Anything goes, and the more textures and colors you add, the better it looks! This style is right on trend for winter, and we're seeing a lot of these oversized scarves on catwalks all around the world. Of course, the more yarn you add, the thicker your finished scarf will be, so keep that in mind! I used a LOT of yarn and cashmere for the project pictured here, so if overly-huge catwalk scarves aren't your thing you will want to use less yarn. Just stop adding yarn when you can bundle the lot together and have the thickness you want!

So thick and warm! Wrap it around and around for an infinity scarf, or let it dangle.

Here's how you do it:

Step 1: Clear out a large section of clean flooring; you'll be using a space about 2 feet x 8.5 feet for your strips. Starting at one end of your space, roll out your leftovers into strips about 100 inches long, staggering them evenly across a space about 2 feet wide. When you get to the end of your ball and have a piece that's less than 100 inches, set it aside. You'll wind up with something that looks like this:

This is the step that takes the longest, but don't worry! The rest goes MUCH faster.

When you get this many colors together, they stop trying to match and just play nicely!

Step 2: Using one of the not-quite-100-inches piece that you set aside in Step 1, gather up all of the ends on one side about 12 inches down and tie tightly together, wrapping the yarn several times around the bundle. Knot yarn and let the ends hang down with the other tails. Do not tie the other side!

All bundled up!

Step 3: Gently separate your yarny bits into four fairly equal sections (don't overthink this; eyeballing it is fine). This may take some coaxing if you've used fibers that stick together, so be patient. The key word here is "gently"! Go slowly and you won't end up with a giant tangled mess.

Evenly divided sections (roughly)

Step 5: If you mentally divide the project down the middle longways, you'll see that you now have 2 sections with 2 strands each - 1 section on the left, and 1 section on the right. Take the right strand from each section and cross it over the top of the left strand from the same section. This is what you'll have:


Step 6: Now we're just going to focus on the center 2 strands. Take the left center strand and cross it over the top of the right center strand. Ignore the other 2 strands alltogether. It will look like this:


Step 7: Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until you have 12-14 inches of loose strands left. One thing that I found helpful in avoiding tangles during this process was to gently gather up the entire length of the strand I was crossing and lift it fully over the strand being crossed. If you attempt to cross just a portion of the srand, the yarns will become entangled and trust me, you don't want that.

You'll start to see the braid pattern emerge after just a few repeats

Stop when you have roughly the same amount of ends left as you bundled together in Step 2.

Step 8: Repeat Step 2, bundling the remaining loose ends of yarn. Trim ends on both sides and pat yourself on the back - you're all done!

I hope you've enjoyed this little tutorial and would love to hear from you if you decide to make a braided scarf of your own! No need to limit yourself to a 4-strand braid, either; this technique is easily applied to 3-strand braids and 5-strand braids, or any other braid you come across! Depending on the amount of yarn you decide to use, you should expect this project to take between 1-3 hours start to finish (mine took closer to 3). Can't wait to see what y'all come up with!

'Til next time, stay warm!
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