Arm Knitting How To Photo Tutorial // Part 4: Finishing with Mattress Stitch

This is it! You’re so close to being done. Just a few loose ends to tie up and your basic arm knitting skills will be complete!

You’ve reached Part 4: Finishing Arm Knitting of a 4 part arm knitting tutorial. If you’re looking for another part, you will find it here:
If you want to have a portable copy, you can purchase the instant download PDF of complete instructions here. If you’re interested in a pre-made kit with thick luxurious yarn for your cowl, there are some in my shop.
To finish the cowl, or to join any two ends of arm knitting together, use the mattress stitch.  When you seam with a mattress stitch, it puts the seam on the backside or wrong side of the knit fabric and makes the front side look magically joined.

 Mattress stitch:

// Start the mattress stitch by placing the two ends of arm knitting abutted up against one another with the right sides or knit sides facing up. Your working yarn should come from the top.  The ends should match in width. You may have to pull the cast on edge wider a bit to match up evenly. The stitches should give a little to allow this. Take care not to pull too far, though.
// Bring your working yarn underneath the first line of stitches on the right side (see the “v”?).  Pull it all the way through.
// Bring the yarn over to the left side and bring the yarn under the first line of stitches on that side. Pull it all the way through.
// Repeat on the right.
// Repeat on the left. Continue until you’ve seamed the length of your work. Leave the stitches you’re making loose enough so that the yarn you’ve run through looks like a line of stitches itself.

Weaving in the ends:

// Flip the work over to the purl side to weave in the end of the working yarn on the wrong side  of the piece.
// Weave the yarn under and over loops of the tighter side of the seam (the cast on edge).
// Tuck the yarn under multiple stitches in the seam and cut.

//  Go to the other side of the work to weave in the tail.
//  Weave in the tail in the same manner you did the working yarn. Cut end.

This cowl was made with Loops and Threads Cozy Wool.

YAY! Good job! You’re off to go arm knit to your heart’s content. I hope it’s been simple enough and that you’ve enjoyed the process. If you’ve liked this tutorial, share it with your friends! I’ve been developing all sorts of amazing patterns and things to make with your new arm knitting skills, most of which will be included in my upcoming book, to be published by Potter Craft in Fall 2015. I wish book publishing were as fast as blog publishing!  Until then, go strut your stuff in your new cowl!
This cowl was made using Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick.
  1. Anonymous

    Waow! Looks great!

    • Sharon

      Wow. I did it and it is beautiful. Thank you for the easy to follow tutorial.

      • Yay Sharon! I’m so excited for you!!

    • Susan

      Hello! I found your pictures to be the most helpful and I have completed 2 cowls.i do have a question however, my scarf seems to curl from the outside in. Is this normal or is there something I should be doing to prevent this. Thank you. Susan

      • Hi Susan,
        This is normal. It’s like traditional knitting which does the same thing if you do all knit stitches- the edges curl. For a cowl, I always thought it was no big deal. To avoid it, you can put a border, like 2 stitches at each side, of alternating knit and purl stitches. It would be an all knit row, followed by 2 purls, all knits till last two stitches, 2 purls, then and all knit row. You can see a video of how to purl in my Garter Stitch Video at Creativebug. The link to this is in my sidebar under videos. Hope this helps!

  2. Maddy

    Love this, thanks for sharing the tutorial! 🙂

    • anne

      Your welcome! Thanks for coming to visit!!

  3. Brittany

    Oh my god, this is AWESOME!!! And did I see something about a book? You must come to writing group so that you can tell us all about it. 🙂

  4. Gabbie

    is there a chance that i can knit a nice, thick blanket with this technique? i think it would be such a great gift!

    • Absolutely! Arm knitting makes a great blanket. It would make a fabulous gift. Just cast on as many stitches for the width of the blanket you want and have at it! You can figure that out by measuring the width of 10 stitches and then increasing the number of stitches to get the width of blanket you’d like. For example, if 10 stitches= 12″, then 20 stitches would be 24″ and so on. I have some gorgeous blankets coming out in my arm knitting book, which you will be able to by in Fall 2015.

      • Thank you! That was my exact question too. I’m looking forward to some cool Fall nights of arm knitting 🙂

      • Chelsea

        For a blanket, would you just stop after step 3?

        • Hi. For a blanket, I would cast on more stitches (like 20 or so) and yes, you just stop after step 3. Keep cosy and warm!

  5. Erica Josey

    THANK YOU! One of my favorite new things to play around with.. This was a great tutorial, and so easy to follow!! I LOVE IT!

    • Thanks Erica! I’m glad you enjoyed it. have fun!!

  6. Sally G

    What a fun project I’m going to buy my girls some wool and pass on your knowledge. Thank you so much for sharing. The next time you feel a lovely warm hug. You will know it’s the bonding you have created for my girls and I while we have a Sunday chat and a knit

    • Sally, You just brought the biggest smile to my face! Thank you for such a charming and warming comment. Happy arm knitting!

  7. Lindsay

    How can I just turn this into a giant chunky blanket?

    • Hi Lindsay,
      You’ll want to cast on more stitches. If you imagine that this cowl is about 12″ across, I would cast on triple (30) and go until you get to the length you’d like . . . I’m hoping to post a blanket tutorial come the fall. Enjoy!

  8. Rebecca

    Just made this scarf in an hour and LOVE IT!!!! Can’t wait to do more arm knitting! Thank you for this tutorial!

    • Yay Rebecca! Keep it up – wait till you see the patterns in my book! so many awesome things to make!

  9. Kate

    You made it so easy. I’m old and I think my granddaughter will love it – maybe even decide it is something she can do. Thank you kindly.

    • Your welcome, Kate! Have a wonderful time!

  10. emuly

    Im having trouble getting my knitting tight. Any advice?

    • Hi Emily, It is typical to have your stitches looser when you are first learning. As you get used to the action though, you can work on making the stitches tighter. If you keep your stitches tighter, the fabric will look less stringy and loose. To do this, keep your arms fairly close together. If you pull your wrists apart from one another, this will loosen things. When you are about to do a new stitch, grab the working yarn close to your arm so the stitch you just made doesn’t have a chance to loosen to much in the making. Another thing to try is to tighten your stitch (and the last few stitches) down to your arm right after you knit the latest stitch. Do this by pulling the stitch from the back of your arm towards you. The new stitches on your arm that you’re making should be fairly snug to your arm and relatively even. Thanks for taking the time to ask! Have fun!

  11. Judy

    Thanks. Easiest directions I found.

    • Thanks so much Judy! You’re welcome!

  12. Melinda

    well. I made something that resembles a really long cowl…my stitches are pretty loose. but i know practice will help!! your directions are dynamite. i tried the videos and ended up being like wtf??? its easier to read and re-read to figure out whats going on!! thanks so much!!

    • Congratulations Melinda! Practice will definitely help! I’m so glad you found the tutorial helpful! xo

  13. Laura Dalton

    Stumbled onto your tutorial and just made my first scarf tonight. Great step-by-step instructions. Lots of my people will be getting these for Christmas! Thanks!!

    • Hi Laura!! Thanks so much for your comment. I’m glad you like the tutorial! have fun – your recipients are so lucky!!
      xo anne

  14. Maria

    LOVE this! I have had so much fun! I do have a question………. I don’t want to make a cowl, but a traditional straight scarf. I casted off (step 3), but didn’t see anywhere here (step 4) to finish it off. I only see finishing for the cowl. Can you help me? Thank you!

    • HI, If you just want a traditional straight scarf. Simply cast off and then weave in the ends into the back of the scarf or along the edges. Add some tassels or pom poms to the end for fun!

  15. Amanda Lauro

    Love this tutorial!! Great pictures and reading it is so much better then wordy long videos, IMHO. :). Just had a few questions — what’s the point of using 2 skeins vrs 1 – just a chunckier scarf? I’d rather have thin so wondering if using one skein would be better? Or if it would look too hole-y.
    My other question has more to do with a video I watched, but maybe you can help answer – in the video it looked like she knitted one arm and purl stitched the next arm (coming from the back to the front to slip the stitch on her hand) – which do you recommend?? Or, do you think it would make a big enough difference for this type of knitting to do one vrs the other? Thanks!!!!

    • Hi! Thanks for your comment. I actually use 3 skeins. I don’t like it to look hole-ly. THat being said, the more skeins you use, the bulkier it gets. I would try to make a sample of the fabric, say 10 stitches by 10 rows and see what you think. I like to make the stitches the way I’ve shown here because it prevents a twist in the stitch at the base.

      • Amanda Lauro

        Thanks! It is pretty fast, I’ll I’ll give the practice ones a shot. So excited to peruse your website. It’s very beautiful!

  16. Heather K.

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I often crochet but have never knit, so it was helpful to see your pictures and read the detailed descriptions. I successfully completed my cowl tonight!

    • Congratulations Heather! I’m so excited for you!!

  17. Sandy Y

    This was very easy and fast! I was finished in 2hrs. Most successful thing I’ve ever done with yarn besides plastic canvas!!! Thank you! I told my boyfriend that I wanted to try this and if I was successful it would be a Christmas gift for his sister!!! It’s so pretty and warm!! It is a little bit though so my next I may adjust. 🙂 thank you!!!

    • Yay Sandy!! Congratulations! I’m so glad you enjoyed arm knitting and had a lot of success!

  18. Sandy Y

    A little bit big…

  19. Sandy Y

    Yes! I literally just finished!!!

  20. Sandy Y

    Hello. 🙂

    The skeins I used were 106yards so I had leftover yarn. I made this Pom pom stocking cap/beanie to go with my cowl! I’m pretty sure I’ve fallen in love with arm knitting! <3 thanks!

    • How awesome Sandy! I have a hat like that in my upcoming book, though the stitches go the other way! Great job!~ xo anne

  21. Sarah Skorpinski

    I’ve never knitted before, so the picture tutorial definitely helped me out, otherwise ‘d be stopping and starting youtube videos and rewatching everything just to start! The pictures are super easy to understand and follow, but I was wondering if there was another way to finish my cowl other than using the mattress stitch. I guess I want the more “rustic” look, so it doesn’t have to be quite as neat and tight as above. Could I simply weave the working yarn around both sides of the scarf to form the seam?

    Thanks, hope you have a happy New Year!

    • Hi Sarah, yes, you can seam it that way – however you want to. I’m so glad you found success here! Happy New Year to you, too!

  22. Amy

    TOO BIG! I completely finished and it loops 3 times over my head which is huge. Any tips on how to take it apart to shorten it?

    • Hi Amy, I’m so sorry it got too big! To undo it, I would undo the bind off and pull the working yarn until you shorten it to desired length. Then put the stitches back on your arm and bind off. If you are worried about the stitches being off your arm, you can do this one stitch at a time, going in reverse undoing stitches one by one. Let me know how you fare!

  23. Lisa

    are there any videos explaining this? im a little confused…

  24. Darlene

    I am a disabled 53 year old, and can not work. I live alone and I had to find something to do from not going completely crazy and bored to death. I came across this flaxandtwine stitching and arm crocheting ( sorta ). I can not wait to buy what I need, following this tutorial ( hope it is easier to do, because I can get confused easily) , but looks easy, and doing this cowl. I would love to make them as Christmas presents and also looking forward to getting the book on blankets. We need these here in Buffalo. Lol I am very excited right now and I can only imagine how excited I’ll be when I’ve completed this project! Wow and THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!


    • HI Darlene,
      Your comment made my day! I’m so glad you are going to start arm knitting! You’re going to LOVE it! Yes, start making and get cozy and warm – you need it with all that snow!!
      xo anne

  25. Lou

    What a wonderful idea, absolutely love it and can’t wait to find some yarn to try it out. Think you mentioned Rowan Big Wool which I can get in the UK. Thank you so much for sharing this…

    • Hi Lou! Thanks so much for stopping by to check out arm knitting. Yes, Rowan Big Wool or Rowan Tumble or Rowan Drift are all perfect! The latter two are discontinued so you may be able to find them on sale! Happy making!

  26. Karen Shepard

    Thank you so much for the fabulous tutorial! By far the best I have seen. I started making scarves before Christmas and used several for gifts. Everyone loved them!
    I have been improving my technique and experimenting – I really am enjoying my new craft. If I don’t like how something turns out, I just rip it out and re-do. I have improved several previous scarves that I made on knitting looms by combining the reclaimed yarn with other yarn. They are now much prettier!
    Thanks again for the instructions.
    Karen Shepard

    • Hi Karen,
      Thanks so much for your kind words about the tutorial! I’m so glad you like them – share them with friends! Happy arm knitting!

  27. I just made it with one strand and it looked loopy.’I did not have any of the same yarn as I had. Could I have used a different yarn with the one I used?????

    • HI! Yes, one strand of yarn will make the arm knitting too loopy. I recommend arm knitting with 3 strands of super bulky yarn at one time. I’m not sure how thick the yarn you used was. . .

      • It was the lion brand bulky Greg and oink yarn but I a. Only 11 years old and I have Benn knitting since I was 5 years old but my mom made me take the whole thing apart. But I started over again with the same yarn but splited the scene in half. Does that work too??

        • I’m so excited you are here and arm knitting Amber! Yes, it works to split the skein. Because you’re 11 you’ll want a smaller cowl anyway. Try casting on 8 stitches instead. Luckily arm knitting is so fast, it’s okay to rip it out and start over again, any time! Let me know how you do!!

          • It looked awesome after I did what you said thank you for the feedback

  28. Thanku so much. I love this tutorial.:-) 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  29. Sarah drake

    I made this with the lion brand yarn but yours looks really tight and even with small arms mine doesn’t look the same. Is there a trick to it.

    • Hi Sarah, Thanks so much for writing. There are a couple of important things 1) use 3 strands (not 2). 2) keep your hands close together while you are knitting, don’t pull them apart from each other, 3) grasp the working yarn close to your hand and the last stitch, 4) worst case you can tighten the stitches you’ve already made by pulling from the back of the stitch and scooting the excess towards your working yarn. I’ve answered this question a couple of other places in the post, a couple of different ways, so if this doesn’t help, read through some of the other comments. good luck!

  30. Pingback: Arm Knitting | TheWHOot

  31. Monica

    This turned out amazing! I’m really not that great at traditional knitting so I am super happy to have this in my arsenal now! Thank you so much for the great tutorial. This was by far the best and most simple to understand that I found! I just saw a bulky scarf like this in Nordstroms a few days ago so I can’t wait to give these as luxurious gifts!

    • Monica, Thank you for your lovely comment! I’m so glad that you find my instructions helpful and easy to follow!
      Warmly, Anne

  32. Janet

    Excellent tutorial! Thanks so much. I too appreciated the pictures and easy-to-follow directions. Very good job! And I love my new scarf. Best of luck with your book too!

    • Thanks so much! I’m so glad that you found it helpful!!

  33. Novalí

    How do I finish it if I want to make a scarf or blanket, not a cowl?

  34. Melanie Booysen

    Wow i have watched 100 of youtube tutorials, and visited more knitting sites in order to try and arm knit without any knitting experience or knowledge. Your pictures had me arm knitting the first time i went thruw it. Thanks a million. You’ve got a way with words, explaining, pictures and an understandable tutorial. Thanks a million ♡

    • What a wonderful comment Melanie!~ You made my day. Thanks so much. I’m so glad it helped you!! Feel free to pin from the site or share via social media with your friends!

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