Easy Knitting Tutorial: Feather & Fan Stitch
The Feather & Fan stitch, found in many popular stitch dictionaries is an easy pattern that you can apply to your garments as a decorative edging. You can also use it as an all-over pattern for a wrap, or an afghan. You can also see the use of this popular stitch pattern in my one-skein Sassy Scarflette. 
This pattern stitch can often be confusing because of the series of decreases and yarn overs. In reality, this is one of the easiest stitch patterns out there, and in my tutorial, I’ll show you step-by-step how to work this fun pattern.
The pattern stitch consists of 4 rows and a multiple of 18 stitches, plus 2. It’s best to work the multiple at least twice across in order to get the “wave” effect. You can also work the multiple several more times for a wrap or an afghan.  In our example, we’ll cast on 38 stitches.
Feather & Fan Pattern:
Row 1: (RS) Knit.
Row 2: Purl.
Row 3: K1, *k2tog 3 times, [yo, k1] 6 times, k2tog 3 times, rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 4: Knit.
After you’ve worked the first two rows, you’ll see that Row 3 consists of a series of decreases and yarn overs, which gives you the “wave” effect as illustrated in the two examples below. You lose stitches when you knit 2 stitches together, but then you gain them back after working the yarn overs.
Row 3 is where things get a little tricky because of the series of decreases and yarn overs. As you can see in the example below, you start off by knitting 1 stitch, then you knit 2 stitches together 3 times, then the section: [yo, k1] 6 times, which results in 6 new stitches. You should now have a total of 16 stitches resting on your needle.
Row 3, 1st half of repeat.
(click photo to enlarge)


The example below represents Row 3 completed. You should have maintained 38 stitches, which is the same number of stitches that we started with.
Row 3 completed.
(click photo to enlarge)
Question: How did we maintain the same number of stitches?
Answer:  It all boils down to simple math.
On this row, we lost a total of 12 stitches by working a series of decreases, (3 on each side, and 6 in the center) and then gained them back when we worked the yarn over sections. (6 on each side of the repeat, resulting in 12 new stitches) Viola, 38 stitches!
Tip: If you’re working this repeat several times over for an afghan or a shawl, stitch markers would be very helpful. You can place them every 18 stitches, but remember that you’ll have one extra knit stitch at the beginning of the row and one at the end in order to even out the repeat.
I hope you found this tutorial useful, and if you have any suggestions for future tutorials, I look forward to your feedback!

29 Responses to Easy Knitting Tutorial: Feather & Fan Stitch

  1. Peggy Davis says:

    Very interesting

  2. Carmen Iglesias says:

    I have used this stitch many times,but I am surprise to see how well you give the explanation to clarify how to do it. It is very helpful and I am sure many knitters will be able to use it. It look very pretty. Thank you again for your tutorials.

  3. KnittingBelle from Ravelry says:

    This was awesome! Thank you. I am headed now to get some yarn and needles and give this a go. 🙂

    Thanks again.

  4. Bexa Forbes says:

    Oh wow! I can see a lovely shawl in this. Think your colours are very nice as well.

  5. RITA BHATIA says:

    Wow! Thank you for explaining the Fan and Feather stitch. One Question: After You cast on 38 stitches. You Knit on Row 1 and Purl on Row 2. ROW 3 is where the pattern starts?

    Is this correct?

    What yarn were you using and needle size?
    Thank you.

    • Kara says:

      Row 3 is the increasing and decreasing row, but row one and two are also part of the pattern.

      I’m using a size 7, but experimentation is what makes things fun!

  6. RITA BHATIA says:

    One Question: After you Cast On 38 stitches on size 7 needles. Do You Keep doing Row 1, 2, 3 for how long? What is the size of this?

    Also, what yarn are you using? I love the colors.

    Thank you.

    • Kara says:

      Hi Rita,

      To answer your question–

      The pattern repeat is:
      Row 1: (RS) Knit.
      Row 2: Purl.
      Row 3: K1, *k2tog 3 times, [yo, k1] 6 times, k2tog 3 times, rep from * to last st, k1.
      Row 4: Knit.
      You just repeat rows 1-4 until for the desired length.

      The yarn I used for the swatch is Knit One Crochet Too Ty Dye.

      Have fun!

  7. Rochelle Upton says:

    Re: feather and fan: Does the 4 row pattern end with a knit row and then begin again with another knit row?

  8. daniela ito says:

    Have you tried to do row 4 as a purl – does that come out the same, but without the “bumpy” row?

    • Kara says:

      Hi Daniela,
      Sure, I have done it without the purl row, and knit across instead. However,that purl row looks so pretty on the right side and it creates nice depth and separation between the pattern repeats. I’m a big believe in experimentation, so go ahead and try it!

      Good luck!

  9. Arlene Hermann says:

    How about a tutorial for the Knit version of the ripple. That would be really helpful to me.

  10. Clancey Mitchell says:

    I am new to knitting. My instructor suggests that I always do a purlwise slip stitch for each first stitch of a row to make a nicer edge. Does this hold true for the fin and feather? I am a novice (or less than novice).
    Thank you,
    Clancey Mitchell

    • Kara says:

      Hi Clancey,
      Adding a slipped stitch at the beginning of the row is a personal preference, and is not always necessary. It does create a nice “braided” edge, but usually the reason for slipping stitches on the edge is to create “selvage” stitches when sewing garment seams so they are neater.

      Good luck!

  11. angela Khayek says:

    I am trying to finish a scarf my grandmother started. It looks like a feather and fan design but seems to be a 7 stitch repeat with 5 stitch rib border. I can’t seem to figure out how to get started again. it appears that the knitting looks all on one side the same (ie knitting and purling alternating to keep the loop on the same side)and the feather/fan looks to be 3 stitches each. She passed away at the age of 102 about 6 years ago and I found this piece of work in her dresser when we cleared out her room. She had stopped on a row that has the yarn over and knit together line. There is about 5-6 repeats across the body of the scarf (its not in the house at the moment so I can’t count but its about 1 foot wide in total) Do you think you could figure out what pattern she was using from this information? I’m out of practice and I was a novice when I last knitted under her instrustion. I’ve been practicing knitting and purling for about a month and made two scarfs to prepare for finishing this for my daughter. In the 6 years since my gran passed away and I’ve been too busy helping my dad look after my terminally ill mom until she passed away this past summer but the intention to finish this last gift from Nana to my daughter has never left my mind. I hope you can help me figure it out and get started again.

  12. Michelle says:

    Hi I just can’t get this feather and fan pattern to work out I end up with to many stitches extra please help.

    Thanks Shelly.

    • Kara says:

      Hi Michelle,
      Try using stitch markers every 18 stitches which is the pattern repeat, and then you’ll easily see how many stitches you should have between repeats. Good luck!

  13. Deb says:

    I have started this pattern for a baby afghan 3 times. I continue to drop stitches by the time I get to the end of the row. Because of the decrease and YO stitches I can’t find my mistakes. Row 3 seems to be fine, it is the following row that doesn’t work. Any ideas???

  14. Charlotte says:

    Love this pattern, it’s very easy, my question Is I would like to knit a shawl, so how many stitches do I cast on and also how do I cast off to have the same look as I begin?

    Thank you

    • Kara says:

      Hi Charlotte,
      to figure that out, goes beyond the scope of this blog post, but I suggest working the repeat over several inches so you can find your gauge and then with a little math, decide how wide and how long you’d like your shawl. Good luck!

  15. Shadow says:

    Thank you so much for this! I tried and failed until now, because once I got to the last row I thought there were way too many stitches on the needle… I wasn’t sure if I should drop these, (like you do with eyelets) or knit them. Not one place on the ‘net explained this. Thank you!! 🙂

  16. Carol says:

    I am sort of a new knitter I started last year when I lost my son. I have crocheted my entire life and it was too easy. I have made 2diff box stitch afghan. 1 ripple or chevon. I cable stitch. Now I am ready to start this stitch for an afghan. I am using a very bright variegated yarn. Wish me luck and thank you for making it sound so easy.

  17. Judith Johnson says:

    I also wind up either decreasing too much or adding stitches. I will try the marker suggestion.

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