Welcome to scarf talk

First, a big thank you to everyone who complimented my skirt! Since I’m new to sewing, your words of encouragement are particularly appreciated. As I become more proficient, I hope to show you sewing FOs more frequently. For now, each little thing takes me forever (but forever is better than half-assed, if you ask me).

Second, for completeness’ sake, I wanted to share with you Caitlin’s prize for submitting the 500th Jaywalker!

Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in pale pink, which is anything but pale. Congratulations, Caitlin!

Third, quicker than expected, I’m approaching the end of my dad’s new scarf, which means it’s time to discuss the perpetual question: what is an appropriate length for a handknit scarf?

Last year my dad specifically asked for a shorter scarf, and I knit him a 53″ long Sharfik. As it ends up, he thought it was a bit on the short side and wants the new one “longer.”

But what is “longer”? I’m not concerned about running out of yarn, or trying to squeeze the scarf out of a limited number of balls – I’m getting 27″ out of each skein of Sundara’s sport merino, so I am definitely going to use all three that I had her dye up. In fact, I can make it as long as 81″! Hmmm…

Yes, I’m a loyal Cute Overload reader, and proud of it!

In the picture, the scarf is 57″ long. If it was mine, I’d bind off right now – it’s perfect length. But for a 5’7″ man? What do we think???


60 thoughts on “Welcome to scarf talk

  1. Wendy

    I believe that the same as his height equals the same as his wingspan and it a good length for a scarf. You’re an exceptional daughter!

  2. Jennifer

    I personally make most scarves 60″. I think that’s a nice number. But I’m 5’2″… and I have heard the height/wingspan/scarf length idea before… ::shrugs::

  3. Michelle

    I am 5’7″ and I like my scarves at least 60″ in legnth if not longer. Though I am sure no matter how long you make it your dad will love it.

  4. Diane

    I’m a bit taller than your dad is, and 57″ would be just about the absolute minimum length of scarf I’d wear. My favorite scarf is more like 68″ long. I cast my vote for a touch over 60″ – not too long, not too short.

    On another note, that hamster is my picture on Facebook. 🙂 (Is there a Cute Overload store?)

  5. Jen

    They say to make it at least the height of the recipient. From a fashiony standpoint, is he a man who wears long coats? Because then a long scarf is fine. But I think if he wears coats that come to his waist you might not want to give him an 81-inch monster, because unless it is knotted it will look funny.

    I am weird like that. I would say 67 – 73″, his height or height plus six inches. No idea why.

  6. Rose Red

    I made a scarf for a friend recently and it was just on 160cm (about 63″). I thought it was the perfect length. She’s probably about 5’11” though. So I’d go with 60+”. (it looks great, by the way).

  7. confiance

    Depends on how he wants to wear it – I like to wrap mine around my neck twice, so I like really long scarves. Otherwise, go with the general rule of as long as he is tall.

  8. miss ewe

    I like to make scarf length match height too. Sometimes a tad longer for a good round the neck wrap with ends that reach nearly the waist. But that’s me…

  9. Mary

    I have a scarf I knit for myself that’s 89″ long, and it is WAY too long. I’m about 5’5″ tall. I would say definitely don’t go past 80″, and probably not more than 70″ or so…. 60″ is typically what I knit for myself and others and that seems to work out fine. Split the difference and go for 66″?

  10. Laura

    I also ascribe to the as long as he is tall school of scarf knitting. But, it does depend, is he a fold over-er or a wrap around-er?

  11. April

    I love long long scarves. I want to wrap it around twice and still have length, so if I’m super cold it can go around my head, around my neck and tuck down in my coat far enough to stay tucked.

    I made an insanely long scarf for my dad, but he’s like 6’2″, so… it’s probably not insane for his size. It’s like Cowboy Dr Who or somethin’ =)

  12. Expat knits

    I’m knitting a scarf for my husband right now (your Sharfik, in fact, with slight modifications) and we’ve had this discussion ad nauseam. He’s 6’2″, and so far it looks like the ideal length will be 63-70″. Since the fabric is quite thick, I’m leaning towards the lower end of that interval to avoid unsightly bulk, but your new scarf seems thinner(?), so that is probably not a concern.

  13. meg

    I think men usually prefer scarves to go once around, rather than having a python-like scarf wrapped around and around (like I prefer) so I would do a few more inches and call it a day!

  14. earthchick

    I’m 5’5″ and just finished a scarf that was 75″ which I felt was the perfect length for me, but I think in general making the scarf the same length as the height of the wearer is a good rule of thumb.

    p.s. My sewing projects are both forever and half-assed. Go figure.

  15. Holly

    When I make a scarf, I usually just keep going until I’m thoroughly sick of the thing. As a result, I have lots of short scarves, but if I were a more patient person I would agree with several other commenters that ideally a scarf is as long as the recipient is tall.

  16. eca

    i made my bf (6’1″) two scarves… he liked them so he could wrap it around himself twice without choking…once wrap for his neck, one warp for his wears and around his nose if it ever got that cold.

    he liked it to stop around his waist (when wrapped) so it wouldn’t get all tangled when he hopped in the car….

    so i say make it a full 60″ =) that’s 5’0″… my height!

  17. jess

    How does he wear it? 🙂 More length if he likes to wrap it multiple times or knot it, less length if he just likes to flip one side over the shoulder.

    I’m 5’6″ and I like a 72″ scarf, but I also like to wrap the scarf multiple times around my neck or I like to do the wrap in half, pull ends though thing (which I’m guessing your dad wouldn’t).

  18. Liz Cadorette

    My husband swears up and down that a scarf is only long enough if it hangs to about the waistline on each side AFTER it wraps twice about his neck.

    (There’s a reason he’s only got two scarves. Nitpicker.)


  19. Susan

    I think you ought to have your mom wrap the Sharfik around your dad’s neck (not noose-like!) and then ask him if it’s too short. (Yes, ask again.) Then if he says it’s too short, somehow have her determine just how short. Maybe she could find another longer scarf or attach something to it (safety pin a sock or something?). My experience in knitting for other people is that the results are more pleasing to them when they’re involved. No surprises for anyone.

    The reason I suggest your mom’s involvement as well is because my experience dealing with men and communication is that they can be cryptic in communicating desires (well, some desires at any rate). Not all men, but there sure is a trend out there among male communicators and I suspect your dad is no exception?

  20. Carolyn

    I love it! I would go longer I think. It really depends how he wears it. If it is just tucked into the coat…not much longer to go. If he wraps it once…a little more than that…you know. Loved the skirt by the way.

  21. Jody

    I would say 63″ – 10″ more than his other scarf was. He’ll notice the extra length but it won’t be too long either.

  22. Stephanie

    Can I tell you I was just googling “standard scarf length” last week because of this very same question! Thanks for this post! I didn’t know about the length = height thing, but I know my husband likes them extra long because of the way he wears them – wrapped around a few times. My mom likes to just cross the ends under her coat. How does your dad wear it?

  23. Trish

    I just finished up a scarf for my husband who is the same height as your dad and he specifically asked for a scarf that was about as tall as he was. But I like the idea to get mom to figure out how long it should be.

  24. Elizabeth

    I knit a scarf until I think to myself “this thing is too long and I could have quit a half hour ago,” and that usually seems to work. I hate all the fiddly measuring. Especially on an object that doesn’t actually have a size or anything. (Also I often cheat with scarves and make a keyhole so they don’t even have to be long enough to wrap around the neck.)

    So…if you can bring yourself to keep going, the “standard” I’ve heard is 60″.

  25. kelpkim

    Love the scarf! and i’d take everyone’s advice about the height/wingspan or at least 63″ advice.



    i LOOOOOOVE C.O.!!!

    please…share with the rest of us!!!

    i especially love the bunny/hamster/guinea pig pics that get posted on C.O.


  26. KarenK from the OR coast

    Just pick a number – I think 72 is a good number for a scarf, don’t you? I like the suggestion of “as long as he is tall” too.

  27. Juti

    “Forever” is better than “never.”

    How long was the too-long scarf? Now, how long is the too-short scarf? Okay, make this new one longer than the short one and shorter than the long one.

  28. nona

    Your dad’s scarf is turning out beautifully. I recommend making the scarf 60″ long. I’ve noticed that guys don’t like their scarves as long as us gals do — not so much flipping, wrapping, and styling going on with them.

  29. Dorothy B

    I prefer my scarves to go around my neck once with enough left over to hang down to my waist on either side. Maybe that’s what he wants.

    It looks great.

  30. Stephanie

    It’s gorgeous. As someone who’s 5’10” (or 6′ with heels), I like a scarf that is between 65″ and 70″ depending on the pattern. I like to wrap it once around my neck and have it long enough to tuck into a coat or if worn out or by itself to hit around the waist. I think it’s a lot about personal preference and I know your dad will love it – it really is gorgeous.

  31. Stella

    I like my scarves to hang almost to my waist, and the number of times around the neck depends on the thickness and intended wearing season of the scarf. To me, that scarf looks thick enough that one neck-wrap would be quite cozy, in which case another 8-10 inches should be plenty.

  32. Adam

    I would say to go for something in the mid 60’s, maybe around 65″. It usually like my scarves around 60″, but I don’t think I’d make it too much longer than 70″. It’s nice to have some length so you can wrap it, but sometimes it’s not that cold, and he may just want to wear it on his neck, or under his jacket collar. Looking good!

    And Cute Overload rocks!

  33. flutter

    go long my dear!

    if your dad asked for longer last year i’d opt for more.

    btw..great skirt! and a lovely pattern you chose. it really accentuates and flows with the curves and is so feminine..i love it!

  34. Lizbon

    What a fun post & comments thread – I, too, am a Car Talk fan. I just finished a scarf that is much longer than I am tall, but that’s because I made it very narrow – the scarf equivalent of a 1980’s necktie. I think wider scarves should be shorter, and narrower ones longer, so that they can be wrapped multiple times to produce adequate neck coverage. Your dad’s looks pretty wide, therefore it needn’t be too long – though I agree with the other commenters that it depends on how he wants to wear it.

  35. Laura

    Well I learned something new today! I had never heard the “height=length of scarf” rule before. But it turns out I had been using it for myself all along! I’m about 5’8″ and I always make scarves for myself 68″ long! But it also depends on the width of the scarf. A skinny scarf takes less to wrap, OBVY. (Like my C.O. reference there?)

  36. Susan G.

    If I were you, I’d ask my day to throw a tape measure around his neck and tell me how long the scarf should be.

  37. Barb in Texas

    Wingspan is usually good for the scarf length. For most people, wingspan = height, so 67″ as somebody else suggested.

    But if your dad likes to wrap his scarves around his throat a couple of times you *might* want it a scootch longer than that.

    And if he likes to tuck them smoothly under his topcoat without a knot, it’s probaly already long enough.

  38. Laura Neal

    First of all is Dad tall or short? My hubby is tall and mentioned to his Mom one year that he wanted a scarf that he could wrap around twice and still have scarf left over. She made him a huge scarf. He is 6’1″ tall. The scarf is 6’1″ tall. I look like that little character in the Flintstones, Schleprock when I put that scarf on. It drags the ground on me. I think of length of scarf on a man is somewhere past his nipples in the mid waist section. Call your Mom and ask her to measure your Dad’s trunk length.

    Problem solved. 🙂

  39. Stephanie

    While I’m generally a fan of the “height=minimum length of scarf” guideline, your dad had asked for a “shorter” scarf last time. Not knowing “shorter than what”, I’d go with 60″. That seems to be the length most of the scarf patterns I’ve been looking at lately. Of course, I just finished (well almost finished–I still have to block it) a scarf for my mom. It’s 80 inches long, so I may not be the one you want to take advice from! (What can I say? Mom said she wanted a long scarf…)

  40. Mary

    I just finished my dad’s scarf, he’s 5’7″ as well. I went for about 61/62″ but it’s yet to be blocked so it might stretch some…

  41. anne

    I need more information – does he wrap? How? Double and pull the end through? That’s how I wear mine, and I tend to make mine longer because of that.

  42. Joan

    Oh please would you post the stitch info for your dad’s scarf? As soon as I finish Christmas scarves for the sisters-in-law I’d love to knit something that isn’t lacy for my husband! Thanks for the inspiration…

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