A few years ago I espied some beautiful images of knit ruana-style shawls and ponchos that used striking color striping in a simple stitch pattern. The knit stitches were loosely made, giving the garment a pretty drape, and the simple tie-offs from color changing formed a natural fringe with a western look. The artist using this beautiful style, I found out later, was the Kristen Hoke of Posh By Gosh on Etsy.
I was enamored, for many reasons: its beauty came from its simplicity and versatility. It featured only knit stitches, so I could easily wrap my head around it. Plus, ample opportunity to play with color and use up spare bits of yarn! I rushed to gather all of my spare skeins and yarn bits, and started a massive upcycling project inspired by her knits – that was my first try, which became a blanket because as it turns out I was not very good at estimating knit sizes at the time.
No worries, though – I tried again, this time turning my inspiration into a project with a crochet twist! The knit ruana, featuring crocheted granny square edges, became the Wayfarer Ruana tutorial, available for free here on my blog!
By then, I was pretty satisfied but I also found myself addicted. These projects were so easy to pick up and put down (because of the endless mindless knitting, it was definitely stitch therapy) and they were so perfect for using up very small bits of yarn. I wanted to design another garment in this style! This time, with even less weaving in of ends. And how about wearable anywhere?
And more SASSY FRINGE?
So I got to work knitting up this Scrap Knit Duster, and put together a little tutorial for it along the way. The two front panels are great for using up very small balls of leftover yarn, especially singe there isn’t any weaving in ends (or at least, very little)!
Since the garment is just made of rectangles folded and seamed, adventurous souls could easily translate this into a crochet piece (just keep your gauge loose so that the fabric drapes well).
Hope you love making it as much as I do ❤ If you do, why not give this project a fave on Ravelry?
US Size 11 (8.00 mm) Knitting Needles, 1 set 24” circular (long straight needles are fine in substitute for this), 1 set 40” circular (necessary)
A lot of random scrap yarn ❤ I chose one neutral toned yarn to kind of become the “background” for the colored yarns, as well as a trim color.
6” book, cardboard, or fringe making tool
Gauge: About 6 sts & 8 rows = 2” in garter stitch
Stitches Required: Cast On, Knit, Purl, Bind Off
Finished measurements: 38” long, bust and waist measurements variable
Begin by taking your measurements. You want the total circumference of the garment to be about as wide as the widest part of your frame (whether that’s your bust, your hips, or your belly) so that it will just be able to wrap you up. I used 34” as my circumference. It’s a little under my actual measurements, but I wanted my duster to be fitted to me, and I know this knit fabric stretches accommodatingly.
The main part of the duster is made with three panels. The two front panels, which are made to equal almost 1/4th the circumference each, so half my measurement when added together. The one back panel is made to equal the other half, and is added after the first two panels are finished (this part is the same basic process as the Wayfarer Ruana, just not as wide).
However, I know I’m going to be adding a trim to the front, so my two front panels will be made a little shorter. 1/4th of 34” is 8.5”, but I’ll plan on adding almost 2” in border, so 6.5” or so. I decide that my front panels are going to be 20 stitches long each, which when plugged into my gauge, will land me at about 6.5” for each front panel width.
If you want a less fitted piece, just stick with the simple math – Each Front Panel is ¼ your circumference, and don’t worry about the trim length for now.
- Cast On 20 (or whatever number you land on)
- Rows 1-150: Knit each stitch. Change color at the end of the row when necessary or desired….
ONLY change colors on one side of the piece. Either side is fine, but stick with one side. This is the side that will face “out” later, and form the fringe hem at the sides, saving you from having to weave in a bunch of ends.
Make 150 rows of garter stitch for the first front panel, DO NOT BIND OFF.
- Stick your first panel on a holding needle and repeat this process for the second panel.
- Once both of your panels are complete, arrange your panels so that the tie-off fringe sides are facing away from each other. Using yarn and your long needles (circular or otherwise), begin to knit across the top of the first panel, starting on the fringe side. Once you knit across the first panel, CO 10 stitches for the collar of the garment. Then, continue knitting across the second panel, ending on the second fringed side.
These 50 stitches (20 for the first panel + 10 for the collar + 20 for the second panel) come out to about 16.5”. 16.5 + (6.5 + 6.5) = 29.5”. Add the (2” + 2”) on either side for the front color trim, and I will have my 34” circumference achieved.
- Knit 150 rows for the back panel. Change colors at the end of the row whenever necessary or desired. Colors can be tied off on either side of the back panel.
Once you’ve finished the front and back panels, Cast off your piece. I like to use Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off (JSSBO), a video tutorial for which can be found here.
Fold your piece in half. Using your tape measure, measure from the top of your shoulder to the lowest part of your armpit. Double this number is how wide you need your sleeve to be – I got about 9”.
We will form the sleeve by picking up one flat row, centered on the same row as the collar is made. Picking up knit stitches from the side of garter stitch is tricky because we are only picking up ONE stitch per each TWO rows. So to get a 9” measurement, I need 28 stitches. (28 sts / 6 stitches per 2 inches = 4.6, or 9.3” inches.)
So beginning from the bottom of each panel, I count up from the hem 122 rows and place a stitch marker. This leaves 28 rows left on the front panel. Repeat count up 122 rows on the back panel (same side) and place a stitch marker. Pick up 28 knit stitches in the side of these 56 rows that land in between your marked stitches, using your needles.
- Knit 70 rows, changing color at the end of the row when necessary or desired.
- Using your preferred border color, switch to working a 4 x 4 rib. Knit 4, Purl 4 and in in subsequent round, knit the knits and purl the purls. Work 5 rounds.
You can change your rib width based on what number your sleeve stitch count is divisible by – for instance, 28 is divisible by 4 so my ribs will be even. If you have 35, you can work a 5 x 5 rib instead, etc.
- BO, preferably with a stretchy bind-off method as mentioned above.
- Repeat same sleeve process on the opposite side.
Fold the entire garment along the middle line that runs through the center of the sleeves and the collar. It helps to lay it flat on the floor, so you can brush the fringe out flat. In this next part, we will use a tapestry needle and a length of yarn to seam the duster.
- Grab a long-ish length of yarn and thread through the tapestry needle. A simple whip stitch through both layers of edges is all that is needed to seam the garment up the side. Keep seaming from the bottom all the way to the sleeve end, starting a new seam if you run out of yarn. Repeat for the opposite side.
To keep your tension even, pull the seam thread tight by stretching the garment out as you sew. Be careful to keep the tie-off fringe out of your seam.
Once you have seamed up the side of the duster and through to the end of the sleeves on both sides, clip your thread and tie the ends off to blend them into the fringe (some you may want to weave in, such as the ends at the hem of the sleeves). Now it’s time to create the ribbed border around the front opening and collar.
- Using your 40” circular needles and your border colored yarn, Pick up 1 knit stitch from every 2 garter stitch rows along the inside border of the garment. If your panels are 150 rows long, you’ll work 75 stitches up one side, 10 into the collar, and 75 down the other side.
- K 4, P 4 to create a 4×4 rib. Work 9 rows of rib by knitting the knits and purling the purls. BO using the JSSBO.
Almost there! Are you excited yet?
Now we’ve got a really rockin’ fringey thing going on, but the tie-offs look a little scraggly in my opinion, so I use my 6” book to create some fringe lengths by wrapping the yarn around then cutting through the bundle. You’ll have to lay out your piece flat again, and comb all the tie-off fringe out flat to prepare for the next step.
- Using a crochet hook, loop one strand of fringe in the side of every fringe-less row up the side of the body and sleeves. Repeat for the other side.
- Finally, weave in any stray ends that aren’t part of the fringe. Odds are you will have a few across the shoulders where the sleeve attaches – I wove those down into the seam for the most part.
Once you have all the extra fringe attached, arrange your duster so that the sleeve and the side of the body are laying long the same line, parallel. Comb all the fringe, including the tie off, so that it is laying mostly flat. Using a sharp scissors, give your baby a haircut – I went down to about 4″ for the fringe.
If you have any stray yarn ends that need woven in (such as scraps that ran out in the middle of a row, or border yarns from adding the trim), take care of those. Once you have, you are done!
Voila! Now you have a scrappy bohemian rock’n’roll knit duster that is warm and wearable, looks great with anything, and that you MADE YOURSELF 😀 !!!
Thanks for visiting my blog and making art with me – I think this may be one of my favorite things I’ve ever made! I say that a lot though 😛
It was certainly fun to photograph. I hiked up a VERY steep hill, camera gear in tow, in order to prance around in heels on the edge of a cliff. Who says knitting isn’t extreme??