Ponchos have never gone completely out of style. Cover a “bad shirt” day, conceal your purse, stay warm and look cool all at the same time.
I had a great poncho in the 70’s. My mother said it was too big for me, but it was the style and I loved it. It became a bedroll when camping, a pillow, a wrap around for me and my best friend on cold days, and my cats couldn’t wait for me to sit down.
My favorite knitting book had a poncho I didn’t like, so using patterns for increasing and decreasing, I came up with my own. This is one of several patterns I like to knit.
Although sometimes hard to find in stores, they’re not hard to find if you know how to knit. If you don’t know how to knit, but would like to learn free, here are links to free lessons and videos:
Of course, if you have a friend who knits and is willing to teach, sit next to them and learn. Once you get the hang of it, knitting is fun.
Here are some notes about this poncho:
• This poncho doesn’t have a hood, but add one easily by picking up stitches along the neckline and knit a square, then sew together at the top.
• Leave the edges plain, or trim with fringe, a crocheted or knitted edge, or other embellishments.
• The stitch given is stockinet stitch- knit on one side, pearled on the other. Of course you can certainly use garter stitch, or once your skills progress, insert any number of patterns in your poncho, even lace.
• For a truly warm poncho, use worsted weight yarn, doubled with size 10 needles.
• The total amount of yarn used depends on the size of the poncho, gauge, and the size of the needles used.
• The pattern given here uses a single color, but with practice, you can insert any colors you wish, or embroider the poncho after it’s finished.
You will need:
• Long knitting needles, size 8 or size you’re comfortable using.
• Sport weight or worsted weight yarn, approximately 5-6 skeins.
• Measuring tape
First measure the wearer. The first measurement is from the neck to wherever you want the point of the poncho to reach. I like mine to reach my knees, so when I’m curled up on the couch the poncho easily covers my feet.
The second measurement is around the head, so the poncho can be pulled over the head easily. Add four inches to this measurement, and then divide in half. Record this measurement. Mine is 22″, so my measurement would be 22 + 4 = 26, divided by 2 = 13.
The third measurement is the width- I like my ponchos to reach from one hand to the other.
Find your gauge. Knit a sample square. Using the tape measure, count how many rows you have in an inch, and how many stitches make up an inch with your knitting. This will come in very important later. Record this measurement.
Take your stitch gauge, and multiply it by the neck measurement. For this example, 13 inches x (my gauge) 10 stitches per inch, equal 130 stitches. Record this number. You’ll need it for the neck opening.
Here we go- first some instructions-
Inc= increase stitch by knitting into the front and back of the stitch. Knit into the front of the stitch without taking the off the first needle. Knit into the back of the same stitch, then take the stitch onto the next needle and continue knitting. It takes a little practice at first, but it really is easy.
Cast on 3 stitches
Row 1: Inc 1 st on the first stitch and the center stitch. Place a marker at the center stitch.
Row 2: Pearl
Row 3: Continue Rows 1 and 2 for pattern, increasing on odd rows by Inc at the stitch next to the center stitch and the center stitch itself. Remember to keep the marker next to the center stitch.
Repeat pattern until you have the front length and width you desire.
For the neck opening-
Remember that measurement based on the gauge for the neck opening? Here is the place to use it. Count an equal number of stitches on either side of the center stitch. In my example, 90 stitches on each side of the center stitch. Place markers at these stitches. A safety pin, bobby pin, different colored yarn, anything that will get your attention.
The neck opening will be made on a knit row.
Knit to the marker, and loosely cast off the number of stitches required. In other words, I’ll knit to the first marker, and loosely cast off a total of 180 stitches. I’ll keep count as I do so, just to make sure I’m accurate. Knit to the end. Keep your markers in place on the needles- they’ll come in
Pearl the next row to the first marker, and cast on loosely the same number of stitches you cast off previously. In this example, cast on 180 stitches, pearl to the end of the row.
If you don’t know how to cast on while knitting, it’s easier to do than to describe. Here goes- Insert your needle as if you were going to knit or pearl the stitch. Draw the yarn through, but don’t slip the stitch off the needle. Place it back on the beginning needle, and do it again.
I’ll try to describe it a different way: The stitches are on my left needle. Using my right needle, I’ll draw the thread through my stitch, (in this pattern a pearl stitch) as if I were going to pearl. Instead of placing the loop on my right needle, I’ll place the loop on the left needle, and draw a new loop through it. This casts on stitches without any gaps in the knitting pattern. It just takes a little practice. Button holes and pockets are made in this way as well.
That finishes the front.
Now for the back, where we’ll begin to decrease the stitches down to three. You are on a knit row. The center marker is still in place.
Row 1: Knit to the center stitch, k2 tog (knit two together), knit to end.
Row 2: (Pearl side) Pearl to the center stitch, p2 tog (pearl two together), pearl to end.
I know it sounds like you’re decreasing faster than the increase, but it does work. When You’re back to one, cast off and finish the edges as you choose, weave in all ends.
If you like the center stitch created in the front, and want it in the back, you could knit two separate front pieces and sew them together at the neck seams.
This is a fast and easy project for any knitter, beginner and experienced.
• Source: Judy Brittain, (1979) The Bantam Step-by-Step Book of Needlecraft, Covent Garden, London, Dorling Kindersley Ltd.