Scarves for Kids

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
In North Carolina, where it is still 72F/22C this week, we haven't started wearing our warm woolies yet.  But this doesn't mean I haven't started thinking about how to keep the kids warm this winter.  Gloves and mittens are easy - that is, you don't put gloves on a 2 year old (his fingers are so small!), and doing the math for figuring out what will fit is fiddly but not hard.  Hats, same deal. Socks, yep. Sweaters, even, just require some measuring and swatching.

But what to do about their necks?  Scarves are the obvious solutions, but I know many people have concerns about them.  Here are some:
  • Long scarves can be a choking hazard
  • Likewise, they can be a trip hazard
  • They get dirty when they drag in the dirt
  • Little necks don't need that much material wrapped around them
  • They get lost!
Ok, that last one is also true of hats and mittens (and, in my family, also socks), and there's honestly not much you can do to prevent handknits from going missing once the child takes them off.  Short of glue. Or maybe tape?

I've also heard a lot of questions about how to size a kid's scarf.  My general rules of thumb are these:
  • Length = Child's height
  • Width = Child's handspan, or about 4"/10cm if it's a worsted/bulky yarn, or double that if you're going to fold or scrunch the scarf
Now, obviously for a kid who is only 30"/76cm tall and has a neck circumference of 12"/30.5cm, these "rules" don't allow for much wrapping around the neck, so if you're doing a traditional long scarf, you'll need to fudge it a bit.

Recently, however, I've started rethinking how I design child scarves (and adult ones, too, I've been so happy with the kids'!).  How can we make scarves that aren't so bulky, potentially hazardous, and dirt magnets?  Well, we can come up with ways to shorten the scarves - with fasteners, connecting them to other gear like hats, or working them as cowls/pidges instead of scarves (those have issues too, though)

One option I really like is the keyhole scarf, such as what I used in Peaks.  In this case you aren't going to wrap the scarf around the neck multiple times - instead you have a hole worked into one end of the scarf that you tuck the other end through.  This means you can have an overall shorter scarf.  My rule of thumb for this is that the scarf is the circumference of the child's neck plus 16"/40.5cm.   This allows for a 2"/5cm hole (plenty for a 4" wide scarf, though you can make it larger if you like) plus 6"/15cm tails on both ends, and about 2"/5cm of ease.  start the hole 6"/15cm from one end, and work until it's the right length.

I also just finished a scarf for the DS that is double her handspan, and has an eyelet pattern.  At one end are buttons that she can use to button the scarf closed, at whatever angle she needs.  This was also a short scarf - about 24"/61cm.  I'm sure there are other ideas out there - I'll be interested to see if anyone has their favorites to share!


  • kristi

    A loop/mobius/infinity scarf (just sew the ends of any scarf together, with or without a twist) works well for older kids. Plus they're in the stores this year, so very au courant!

  • Kari Clark

    I've just started knitting scarves for my kids and I love the keyhole idea. Here's my problem - I use a loom and no idea how to add the keyhole. Can anyone instruct me on how to do that? Please? Thank you! =)

  • Kari... what I have started to do when knitting scarves now is to add a loop to the back of the scarf that the other end of the scarf can go thru. similar to the keyhole effect, you can knit a strip and sew it straight or on an angle.... or you can crochet it as well.... the length of it would be almost as wide as the scarf and sew it on... this has worked for me.. hope you find this helpful.

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