Learn to Knit by Hand or Machine

Learn to Knit by Hand or Machine

Written by Sharon Nani owner of The Knit Tree and sponsor of The Little Knitters Program

Learn to Hand or Machine Knit by following the Beginning Knit Lessons that Sharon Nani wrote with Photo instructions for The Little Knitters Program. The Doctor Who Season 12 Garter Stitch Scarf is a fun, colorful knitting project for any knitter whether you are a beginner or more advanced. Have fun reading the experience and lessons of the Little Knitters for this knitting challenge in the following article. Follow all the links for hand knitting to see how to knit a slip knot to begin knitting, how to cast on in hand knitting, how to knit the knit stitch for the garter stitch pattern, how to change colors for knitting stripes, how to bind off in knitting, and knit finishing for the scarf by weaving in all the yarn ends, adding tassels, and steaming the finished garter stitch scarf in the pure wool yarn. Note: The Machine Knitting Photo Links will be added as soon as the Little Knitters finish that project.

You can purchase the pure Nature Spun Wool Yarn Kit with knitting instructions in our Online catalog to knit a replica of the Doctor Who Season 12 Garter Stitch Scarf in colors and yarn matched to the original Dr Who Scarf worn by Tom Baker. It is 15 feet long (see image below) or get two 7 1/2 feet long scarves, or three 5 foot long gentlemens scarves out of one kit. Or you can just follow our lessons for learning purposes for your own knitting project.

Click on these links to go directly to the Topic in this article that you are interested in or enjoy the whole knitting experience. Challenge from a Doctor Who Fan, Research the knit project for correct yarn fiber, yarn colors, and yarn stitch construction, Buy the yarn, Knit the Sizing Swatch, Drafting the Knit Pattern, Knitting Instructions ~ the Season 12 Doctor Who Scarf Replica, Knit Finishing Techniques, Group Challenge for Hand or Machine Knitting Grafting Knit Stitches Together

NOTE:Click on all images to see an enlargement of the photo!

See the Knitting Steps for a New Knitting Project

Challenge from a Doctor Who Fan

Doctor Who Season 12 Hand Knit Wool Garter Stitch Scarf hand knit by Sharon Nani owner of The Knit Tree
Doctor Who Season 12 Hand Knit Wool Garter Stitch Scarf hand knit by Sharon Nani owner of The Knit Tree.

A Little Knitter’s challenge from a Doctor Who fan to knit a replica of Tom Baker’s Season 12 Doctor Who Scarf started a great knit learning adventure. It initiated the design and knitting process by inspiring the Little Knitters to research the knit project for correct yarn fiber, yarn colors, and yarn stitch construction. The next step, was teaching The Little Knitters the task of Drafting the knit pattern to come up with the right size for the 53 stripes composed of 7 different colors of pure wool in this scarf. The actual knitting gave a great opportunity for the Little Knitters to learn the required knitting techniques for both hand and machine knitting to knit this replica scarf as close as possible to the well known Doctor Who Scarf worn by Tom Baker in the Season 12 TV Series Doctor Who.

Finally, consideration for the legal and etiquette rules of respect for logo, fan oriented, and copyright art were discussed. The unanimous decision was made between Knit Instructor and Little Knitters to use this experience and the Doctor Who Season 12 Scarf as our Charity Knitting Project for our web site and Little Knitter Program. Any of the hand knit or hand loomed Doctor Who scarves that we knit would be auctioned off or sold with the profits donated to a charity. What a great way for the Little Knitters to have fun with a colorful unique knit project and apply a community service of charity.


The charity was easy for them to choose. A dear friend to the Little Knitters, 11 year old Jake, lost his battle last year to a rare blood cancer, neuoblastoma. In his memory, an original Little Knitter takes part in raising money through Hike For Discovery, which is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's adventure fund raising program that prepares people to experience a natural wonder in a special way. In addition, Great Gramma and Great Grandpa to some of The Little Knitters are also battling Lymphoma and Leukemia, respectively. Therefore, 50% of any monies brought in from the Doctor Who Scarf sales will be donated to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The other 50% will be donated to the Little Knitters Program, to buy supplies, equipment and materials for their knit or craft projects. Both are great programs and an inspiration for any purchaser to know they supported good causes along with receiving a fun filled, elegant, and colorful scarf hand knit with loving care and high quality pure wool, even if they are not a Dr Who fan.

As part of the sharing experience, this article will go through the Learning process that the Little Knitters experienced. It is the Steps of Knitting Design that would be good for any Little Knitter in other parts of the country.  Apply these steps to your own knit projects or buy a Season 12 Doctor Who Scarf yarn kit from The Knit Tree’s online catalog and follow these instructions to knit your own scarf. Check out the online catalog to see if any Finished Dr Who scarves are available, or contact customer service to get on our waiting list.

Research the knit project for correct yarn fiber, yarn colors, and yarn stitch construction

Since the Knitting Challenge came from a Doctor Who fan, he graciously informed us of a wonderful web site to begin our adventure. Little Knitters know the internet is indeed a highway to information. When they ‘googled’ Doctor Who Scarf, the same web site that the challenging fan gave them came up #1 on page one of Google. The web site doctorwhoscarf.com has a wealth of information that answered all their research questions. The devoted fan and designer of this web site, Chris, is MUCH APPRECIATED for his generous sharing of all this Dr Who Scarf information. Even for those that were too young to know who Dr Who is, the information was fun to read and inspired them to start watching the new Dr Who series on TV. More Doctor Who fans are created!!

Read here on the history of the Doctor Who Scarves. Instructional Tips on changing color, hanging the tassels, and more can be found here.

Recommedations for yarns, correct yarn colors, and yarn companies are also given

Wonderful photos from several seasons can be seen. These are screen grabs from “Ark in Space”. See how close our scarf colors are to these.

Finally a Colored Chart for Instructions for knitting is available for those that know how to knit the garter stitch.

Beginning hand knitters who don’t know how to knit: go to the Knitting Instructions in this article to find detailed step by step photos with pictures on how to cast on, knit garter stitch, bind off, and knit finishing techniques.

In summary, The Little Knitters found out some very important things. To meet the challenge of knitting a replica Season 12 Doctor Who Scarf, these requirements must be met:

  • Find a Wool Company to buy Pure Sport Weight Wool in the correct recommended colors
  • Knit the Scarf in Garter Stitch to replicate the original scarf worn by Tom Baker. The promotional scarf offered years later seemed to be machine knit in a stockinet tube, then turning it inside out so the purl side looked like garter ridges. But the challenge was to knit a replica of the original – so it must be GARTER STITCH – WOOL to be an authentic reproduction.

Buy the yarn

One of the recommended wool yarns was Nature Spun by Brown Sheep Co in Nebraska. Since this is a yarn company in United States, Sharon contacted Brown Sheep Co to find out the requirements for purchasing the Nature Spun yarn in the recommended colors suggested by Chris Brimelow (note: Chris researched the colors by comparing yarns with the original scarf ) Since Sharon is a knit designer who writes patterns for knit magazines, she qualified to open an account with Brown Sheep Co. The minimum purchase requirement for designers of the 7 required colors of Nature Spun Wool in Sport Weight was made.

This was much more yarn then what was needed for The Challenge Dr Who Scarf, so Yarn Kits with yarn and instructions for hand and Passap machine knitting of garter stitch are also compiled for others who would enjoy knitting this garter stitch scarf. See our yarn kits category in The Knit Tree’s online catalog.   Note: The scarf is appox. 15 feet long, so if one didn’t want to knit the LONG Dr Who scarf, have fun dividing it into 3 scarves 5 feet long – just divide the knitting chart into 3rds so the yarn usage is the same. Five feet or 60 inches is the standard size of a Gentleman’s Scarf.

Wool Yarn Kit with Instructions to knit a replica Doctor Who Garter Stitch Season 12 Scarf
Wool Yarn Kit with Instructions to knit a replica Doctor Who Garter Stitch Season 12 Scarf

Kit: 185 yd skein / $4.00 skein 18 Skeins Regular Price: $72.00.
Our Special Price: $59.50
Colors: (in sport weight)
308 "Sunburst Gold" (Yellow) about 2 skeins
N94 "Bev's Bear" (Brown) about 2 skeins
880 "Charcoal" (Gray) about 2 skeins
(note I used 3 skeins in my hand knit scarf)
720 "Ash" (Tan) about 3 skeins
(I used 4 skeins)
N46 "Red Fox " (Red) about 2 skeins
N18 "Plum Line " (Purple) about 2 skeins
522 "Nervous Green" (Green) about 3 skeins

The Knit Tree also has a half size yarn kit available for purchase in the Online Store .

Knit the Sizing Swatch

This is a project of ‘replication’. Therefore, knit swatches must be knit to experiment with hand knitting needles or knitting machine tensions to match the same stitch and row gauge from the knitting chart supplied from the doctorwhoscarf.com web site. The chart did not give the stitch and row gauge. This is where math must be used. Always take ‘the known information’ and go backwards in the design pattern drafting process.


The knit chart for the Season 12 scarf gave the number of garter rows of each stripe color. It also said the finished scarf should measure 10 to 12 inches wide and 12 to 15 feet long. In Chris’ pattern, he choose 11 inches wide and said to cast on 65 stitches. 65 divided by 11 would be 5.91 stitches per inch. Use the same process to calculate an estimate of the rows per inch. Garter Stitch consists of 2 actual knitted rows. Add the chart garter rows. Multiply this sum by 2. This gives the number of total rows to knit. 15 feet multiplied by 12 inches in a foot says the scarf should be approximately 180 inches long. Divide the total rows by 180 (the finished number of inches). Our Estimate concluded that The Little Knitters wanted their test swatches to match 6 stitches per inch and 5.78 rows per inch to knit a 10 inch wide scarf 15 feet long. 

Upper Loop of Knit Stitch does not show on even number of knit rows in garter stitch
Upper Loop of Knit Stitch does not show on even number of knit rows in garter stitch
Upper Loop of Knit Stitch shows on odd number of knit rows in garter stitch
Upper Loop of Knit Stitch shows on odd number of knit rows in garter stitch

Even if the knitters swatch matched the 6 sts/” and 5.78 rows/”, there are three other major factors which will cause a variance in the finished size for every different scarf.

1. Natural fibers of different colors, even though they are all sport weight and the same brand - Nature Spun, will have slightly different thickness dependant upon the color fibers and the spinning process. So getting a stitch and row gauge from one of the colors would be a close estimate of all the colors. So look at the colors closely – do not swatch one that looks thinner or heavier. I found in these 7 colors tan was the thinnest (lightest color) and plum was the most dense (darkest color). In other words pick a middle range color to swatch to get the best average stitch and row gauge for all the colors.

2. Since a garter row consists of 2 knitted rows, color changes must be made on even number rows, otherwise the scarf would show the color change on the right side of the scarf. Since the scarf has 53 stripes, this slight variance would effect the overall sizing.

3. The sheer weight of this long of a scarf, when in the worn hanging position will elongate do to the nature of the garter stitch construction.

TIP: To hand knit the swatch for the Season 12 Doctor Who Scarf, I started with the recommendations of Chris from the doctorwhoscarf.com web site: Chris said for hand knitting use US needle sizes 5-7 and cast on 65 stitches. I choose needle #6 (in the middle) and knit the first purple stripe of 16 rows (8 garter rows). This way if it measures correct, I can just keep knitting my scarf. If it is off in measurement, make the adjustments and start again. (the spreadsheet included in the yarn kit shows the measurements of each stripe in both inches and centimeters so hand knitters can go by the stripe measurement and make their adjustments as they knit for the number of rows to knit. But the stitch guage of 6 stitches per inch would be determined by the hand knitting needle size)

TIP: To machine knit the swatch for the Season 12 Doctor Who Scarf, I started with the normal Tension that I used for sport weight stockinet stitch on my passap knitting machine and cast on the same number of stitches used for the hand knit directions using my special cast on as described below under instructions. I knit the first 16 rows of the purple stripe in garter stitch. Then I knit 10 rows of scrape yarn in stockinet stitch and dropped the knitting from the knitting machine to measure. If it measures correctly, just rehang the stripe on the knitting machine and continue. If corrections must be made, make the adjustments, unravel the yarn, and begin again.

The results of the swatches determined that US hand knitting needles #6 and Stitch Size Tension 7.75 on the Passap Knitting Machine both yielded the needed 6 stitches per inch and 5.78 rows per inch with the Nature Spun Sport weight yarn. Therefore, the identical pattern could be used for both hand and passap knitting machine for garter stitch for the number of stitches to cast on and the number of rows to knit for each stripe..

Drafting the Knit Pattern

Sharon took this math challenge as a great opportunity to teach the Little Knitters how to use Excel spreadsheet computer program to lay out their knitting pattern. A column was created for the color name and the cell was filled with the corresponding color for visual confirmation. Other columns were inserted for Chris’s original garter rows, Actual knit rows, measurements in inches and centimeters of each stripe. Formulas were inserted in the cells to automatically add up all the stripe garter rows, convert this to rows knitted, then each stripe automatically added so the machine knitter would know when to change their color stripe. Sharon has included a print out of the spreadsheet in the Doctor Who Season 12 yarn kits available in The Knit Trees Yarn Kits Category of the Online Catalog.

Automated spreadsheets are often used for professional knitting in more complicated knit projects. They are useful if a different yarn is used with a different stitch and row gauge. If the spreadsheet is properly set up, just changing the stitches per inch and rows per inch in the spreadsheet formulas would recalculate all the numbers needed for the stripes (or pattern) and keep the finished size the same.

Knitting Instructions ~ the Season 12 Doctor Who Garter Stitch Scarf Replica

A Garter Stitch scarf knitted in stripes of different colors with tassels is a great learning project for a beginning hand knitter because it only involves Basic hand knit techniques.

Hand Knitting Techniques used in Knitting Lesson One: Doctor Who Season 12 Knit Garter Stitch Striped Scarf:

On the other hand, garter stitch on a knitting machine involves more advanced knitting techniques in order to duplicate the exact look of the hand knit version. I am also documenting detailed pictures of these techniques as the Little Knitters work on this version and will add the directions as links to these techniques as the Doctor Who scarf progresses. The Knit Tree leaves one of the passap knitting machines set up for The Little Knitters with the current Dr Who Scarf on it. Each time a Little Knitter comes to the knit studio, they have the opportunity to work on the scarf. Since a knitting machine regulates the stitch size, different knitters can knit on the scarf and maintain the correct sizing. This makes a wonderful group machine knit project. Which in turn, makes it a great Knit for Charity Challenge Knit Project.

The passap knitting machines requires the added knitting equipment of the transfer carriage set to the Number 3. To knit garter stitch, *1 row is knit on the front bed from right to left, all the stitches are transferred to the back bed, 1 row is knit on the back bed from left to right, all stitches are transferred to the front bed.* Procedure is repeated for these 2 rows to make the garter stitch. Refer to the U80, U100, or U100E instruction manual for procedure.

Brothers knitting machines would need a garter bar. To knit garter stitch, *1 row is knit on the Main bed from right to left, all the stitches are transferred to the garter bar – the knit row is turned so the knit stitch faces you – the stitches are rehung on the needles, 1 row is knit from left to right, all stitches are transferred to the garter bar - the knit row is turned so the knit stitch faces you – the stitches are rehung on the needles.* Procedure is repeated for these 2 rows to make the garter stitch. Garter Bars come with instructions on how to make this transfer of stitches. Note: there is an automatic garter carriage, but I am not sure it would work with this sport weight yarn.

Knitting Machine Techniques which are different then the knitting techniques for hand knitting in the Dr Who Garter Stitch Striped Scarf are: (linked detailed instructions with pictures Coming Soon)

  • how to make an elastic cast on with Sport Weight Wool: Passap: Cast On with scrap yarn. With Purple yarn, starting on the left side, hand pull the yarn thru the scrap yarn bringing the needle to out of work position to create a big stitch. Continue with all stitches to the right side. Pulling down on the cast on comb, bring the big stitches back into work position. Japanese Machines with Garter Bar: Ewrap cast on or chain stitch cast on loosely – see instruction manual
  • Knit Garter Stitch following Spreadsheet rows for changing stripe colors – see instructions above
  • Bind off: Passap: repeat Cast on procedure making the big stitch. Knit 10 rows scrap waste yarn and drop from machine. Then follow the Latch Tool Bind off from Scrap yarn procedure for both the cast on and bind off edges. Japanese Machines – Transfer Stitch Bind off Loosely – see instruction manual.

Knit Finishing Techniques

Finishing Techniques for hand knitting and machine knitting are the same

  • Weave in all yarn ends at color changes
  • Make tassels consisting of all seven colors. Place them closely together on both edges
  • Lightly steam. I use a garment steamer and hand press to even out edges if necessary.

Group Knit for Charity Challenge for Hand or Machine Knitting

The Doctor Who Scarf is such a wonderfully fun and colorful striped scarf. The added opportunity to knit with a high quality natural wool fiber makes this an excellent group project. For hand and machine knitting, the spreadsheet chart of stripes could be divided up into the number of participants in the group. Each participant would first have to knit their swatch to obtain the same stitches per inch for the scarf width and rows per inch in order to follow the chart. Then proceed as follows:

Research by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has helped this Leukemia Patient pictured here with some of the Little Knitters
Research by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has helped this Leukemia Patient pictured here with some of the Little Knitters
  • Knitter of Section One: cast on as per instructions, knit your section, do not knit the last row of your section. Leave about 45 “ (.75 inch for every stitch that was cast on) of the last color stripe end for grafting your section to the next section. Change to scrap yarn (I use a smaller yarn, smooth in nature such as cotton) knit about 6 rows scrap / waste yarn). THE LAST ROW OF EACH SECTION IS NOT KNIT. THIS LAST ROW WILL BE HAND GRAFTED WITH THE 45” END YARN TO THE NEXT SECTION.
  • Knitters of Middle Sections: Cast on with the thinner cotton scrap yarn, knit about 6 rows. Knit your section, stopping and not knitting the last row as described for section One. Leave 45” end, and knit 6 rows scrap yarn.
  • Knitter of Last Section, Cast on with scrap yarn as middle Sections, finish your last stripe and Bind Off as per instructions.
  • Hand Graft All Sections together: See Grafting steps below, in addition I’ll add actual photos when our project reaches that point.
  • Finish as the instructions are above.

Your Group can donate their scarf to charity of choice for them to auction off for fund raising or just have fun knitting for gifts.

Picture Diagram for Grafting Stitches
Picture Diagram for Grafting Stitches.

Steps for :Graft Stitch (see diagram)

  • Steam Open Stitchs to Set Stitches
  • Remove Scrap Yarn as you graft
  • Reform the missing knit row by:
  • With right sides facing you and same yarn, insert the needle coming ‘up’ the hole of the first side stitch on the front (1).
  • Go across the side seam opening and insert the needle going ‘down the hole of the first stitch on the back (2) then ‘up’ the hole of the adjacent open stitch on the back (3) in the same movement of the needle.
  • Go across the side seam opening and insert the needle going ‘down the same hole of the first stitch on front (4)
  • This completes the sequence to form a knit graft stitch. Repeat Steps D-F for all open stitches.

Look for our Knit for Charity Challenge Doctor Who Season 12 Scarves ~ hand knit or hand loomed in Garter Stitch with Nature Spun pure Wool in The Knit Tree’s One of a Kind Showroom

If you do not find any available, contact customerservice for information and to get on our waiting list.

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