Do You Need a Simple yet Beautiful Scarf Pattern?

Learn how to knit Sways with the Wind – my pattern to knit a simple scarf featuring the bamboo rib stitch

Sways with the Wind scarf knitting pattern
Please note: I corrected a mistake in the last 2 rows of the pattern on Jan. 7, 2018. If you printed or saved this pattern in any way before then, please re-print or re-save it so you have access to the correction. Thank you!

I was inspired to design a scarf pattern amidst a sea of news about sexual misconduct.

I know these two don’t seem to be related, but I promise you they are. Stay with me.

A few years ago in the United States, the topic of sexual harassment, abuse, and violence was inescapable.

But what bothered me increasingly with every news story I read was knowing that millions of women lived quietly with the pain of their humiliations and assaults every day.

Without splashy headlines, without breathless television coverage.

Something I have learned since I devoted a large portion of my life to charity knitting: if I can’t get some sort of injustice or issue or awful set of circumstances out of my head, it’s a signal that I should be knitting for it.

That led me to consider Threads of Compassion. This charity knitting organization offers comfort to victims of sexual violence through hand-knitted or crocheted scarves.

That, in turn, made me want to knit a scarf!

I last knitted a scarf about a year and a half ago. It was actually supposed to be a lightweight lacy scarf. Unfortunately, I used a worsted-weight yarn rather than a fingering or sportweight yarn. This, in turn, made my scarf light and airy… and about 10 feet long. (Ha!)

I wanted to knit a simple scarf that would be soft and warm and cuddly. A way to reach out and hug someone without actually being able to do so.

(This next sentence contains an affiliate link; if you make a purchase after clicking, I may receive a small commission. Thanks for helping to support this site!)

And that led me to my favorite stitch dictionary (thank you again, Eric, for a terrific birthday gift!) to find just the right stitch pattern.

The Making of a Simple-to-Knit Bamboo Stitch Scarf

starting a bamboo stitch scarf
Starting my new scarf at a football game

In my stitch dictionary, I found something called a bamboo rib stitch. And I instantly knew it was perfect. It’s a simple stitch pattern, easy to memorize, yet with enough variety to hold my interest.

On a hunch, I looked up the symbolism of the bamboo plant. I found this lovely quote from the late martial artist Bruce Lee: “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

In other words, even the thinnest stalk of bamboo can avoid cracking in the strongest storms, because its flexibility is its strength.

Inspired by this symbolism, I knew that a bamboo stitch scarf was the perfect choice.

Pattern for Sways with the Wind, a Bamboo Rib Stitch Scarf

I’ve named this bamboo rib stitch pattern Sways with the Wind, inspired by the Bruce Lee quote.

I’m quite fond of this pattern’s simplicity. Every stitch is either a knit or a purl. No increases or decreases, no yarnovers, no slipped stitches. A total beginner should be able to knit this scarf with no problem.

In essence, this is a fully-ribbed scarf, with just a few periodic purl ridges. These purl ridges are what give the scarf its bamboo-like appearance.


Worsted weight yarn (use something soft!)

US Size 7 or 8 needles (whichever you have available)

Gauge isn’t really that important for this pattern. I used a worsted weight yarn when I designed, but you could certainly use a thinner or thicker yarn. A thinner yarn will produce a skinnier scarf, while a thicker scarf will produce a wider scarf.

Knitting this scarf for a charity? Measure the width early on to ensure you have the required width for the charity.


knitting a bamboo stitch scarf
You will find this a very relaxing knit.

Cast on 38 stitches.

Row 1: *P2, K4; repeat from * until last 2 stitches, P2.

Row 2: *K2, P4; repeat from * until last 2 stitches, K2.

Rows 3-4: Repeat Rows 1 and 2.

Row 5: *P8, K4; repeat from * until last 6 stitches, K4, P2.

Row 6: *K8, P4; repeat from * until last 6 stitches, P4, K2.

Rows 7-10: Repeat Rows 1 through 2, twice.

Row 11: P2, K4, *P8, K4, repeat from * to 8 stitches from the end, P8.

Row 12: K2, P4, *K8, P4, repeat from * to 8 stitches from the end, K8.

bamboo stitch scarf
Almost there! Check out the lovely rounded edges.

Repeat Rows 1-12 until the scarf is at least 65 inches long or as long as you want or need it to be.

Bind off; weave in ends and block lightly, if desired.

Once you get the hang of this pattern, you’ll find it’s quite intuitive. It’ll be especially easy if you’re able to count your knit rows, because then you’ll know to add a purl ridge to each “stalk” of “bamboo” after 10 knit rows.

What I love the most about this pattern is its rounded edges. Because the edges curl (thanks to the stockinette stitches at each end), the whole scarf has a rather cylindrical appearance.

bamboo stitch scarf
And…. finished!

Be sure not to block the scarf too aggressively if you want to maintain that cylindrical appearance!

As you can see, I knit this scarf mostly in a peachy shade, but I’m looking forward to trying it in a green. I added gray to each end (because I ran out of peach yarn, ha!) and then used gray fringe to complete the scarf.

Knitting a Sways with the Wind Scarf? Please Share!

If you knit this bamboo stitch scarf pattern, I’d love for you to share photos! You can share links to your photos in the comments, or you can visit my Facebook page or community and post photos there.

I’ve also set up a Ravelry pattern page so you can link your project to my pattern there, if you’d like.

While I created this pattern especially for survivors of assault, I encourage you to knit this scarf for anyone you want! Knit it as a gift for someone special, or knit it as a charity project for any organization you want.

And if you’d like to sell this scarf to raise money for charity, that would be wonderful, too! (Just don’t sell the pattern… that’s a big copyright no-no.)

Would you like this pattern as an ad-free PDF that you can take anywhere? If so, you can purchase your copy of the Sways with the Wind Scarf pattern below! (The full Swaying with the Wind pattern eBook is available, too.)

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  1. Hi Nicole: As someone who knits exclusively for charity, I very much appreciate your efforts. In fact we currently knit scarves for the WWII Museum and red scarves for the Foster Kids in College. I am interested in knitting your Sway in the Wind Scarf for either or both charities. Would it be possible for you to post as a one or two-page download rather than just ad a post. I would be happy to pay for the pattern, if you needed to charge. I am finding it way too distracting to follow it online. Thanks again for your monumental efforts on behalf of worthy charities. Best personal regards, Lois (Foxy G. Knits)

    1. Hi Lois! This scarf would be fabulous for either charity. I can’t believe I forgot (until now!) to add an easy way to purchase the pattern! You’ll find a block by the end of the post where you can get your copy of the pattern. Thank you for the reminder, and enjoy the pattern!

  2. Just finished this scarf in a pretty dark green yarn. Turned out beautifully!!! It is going to Chicago for the sexually abused women. Hope it will give them comfort. I guess it is my version of a prayer scarf. Thank you for the wonderful pattern and all the great organizations that you connect us with!! It is definitely a pattern keeper.

  3. I would like to know what the pattern repeat numbers are so I can make a wider scarf using thin yarn.
    Thank you

    1. As I mentioned to Chris above, this pattern uses multiples of 12 +2, and it’s a 12-row pattern repeat. Hope that helps!

  4. Hi Nicole,
    Does the stitch dictionary give you the multiples of each pattern? I couldn’t find a place to ask the question on Amazon. I am not the best at figuring it out myself. Thanks. Just finishing up a big project and was looking for a scarf pattern.

    1. Yes it does, Chris. This pattern is a multiple of 12 plus 2, and it’s a 12-row pattern repeat. Hope that helps!

  5. OH my!!!! I love the pattern Nicole. I was thinking with winter coming on… BURR… if you made a scarf much wider and longer , ya I know it feels like forever to finish. But if the item was folded in half and buttons sewn on along one side and loops along the other opposite the buttons it could make a nice hat. A two in one so to speak. And taking it one step further turning up and stitching the ends to fashion hand coverings or a pocket. If a heavy yarn was used it would go together fast. Thinking of the outdoor homeless folks. It’s something I’ve thought of for years and never got around to it. You know how life gets in the way of everything else. Make the most of the day …it’s all we got. =-)

  6. So lovely,makes me want to drop what I’m doing,and make this. Oh, I might have the perfect yarn in the stash for it too!

  7. I can’t wait to start the bamboo stitch scarf! And I just got a coupon for on-sale yard in the mail. I may keep the first o e for myself.