Ponchos are easy to make and just as easy to wear. Most knitted ponchos are based on either a triangular, square, rectangular, or wrap-style basic form. You can dress up even the simplest of poncho patterns, turning the finished product into a can't-go-wrong knitted accessory. Once you find a pattern you like, feel free to adjust it by changing yarn weights or colors, adding edging, or adding a hood to make it your own.
Free "Ray" Poncho Pattern
This poncho uses panels of ribbing to create a forgiving, easy-wear design. It's knit in the round with a slouchy ribbed neck built in, so you don't have to do any seaming. If you need help downloading the printable, check out these helpful tips.
Stitch Gauge: 4 stitches per inch, or 16 stitches = 4 inches. Row gauge is not important for this design.
- Two or more size 8 (US) circular needles, or as needed to attain the stitch gauge. One needle should have a 16-inch or shorter cable, and another should have a very long cable to accommodate the large number of stitches.
- Worsted weight yarn (at least 800 yards; the exact amount needed will vary depending on how long you choose to make the poncho).
- Stitch markers
- Yarn needle
- Using the shorter circular needle and one strand of worsted-weight yarn, loosely cast on 80 stitches (This creates an approximately 20-inch neck opening).
- Join, being careful not to twist. Place a marker at the beginning of the round. This marker should be a different color or design from the other stitch markers you'll use.
- Knit in k4, p4 ribbing until the neck ribbing measures 12 inches long.
- Next round: k1, place marker, k2, place marker, k1, continue in p4, k4 ribbing until you reach the knitted rib on the opposite side of the round from the beginning-of-round marker (40 stitches from beginning of round, 37 stitches from last marker); k1, place marker, k2, place marker, k1, continue in p4, k4 ribbing until end of round.
- Next 3 rounds: purl even, slipping the markers as you go.
- Round 1: k1, sm (slip marker), M1 (see notes below), k2, M1F (see notes below), sm, k1. Continue in p4, k4 ribbing until one stitch before the next marker. Then k1, sm, M1, k2, M1F (see notes below), sm, k1. Continue in p4, k4 ribbing to the end of the round.
- Round 2: k1, sm, M1, knit to marker, M1F, sm, k1. Continue in p4, k4 ribbing until one stitch before the next marker. Then k1, sm, M1, knit to marker, M1F, sm, k1. Continue in p4, k4 ribbing to the end of the round.
- Repeat Round 2 until the poncho is as long as desired.
Finishing (garter-stitch edging)
- Round 1: purl even
- Round 2: knit even
- Round 3: purl even
- Round 4: knit even
- Cast off loosely. Snip the excess yarn, leaving an 8-inch tail. Thread this through the yarn needle and weave it into the garter-stitch edging for several inches, then clip any remaining excess yarn.
- M1 or Make One = place your left-hand needle underneath the crossbar between two stitches, from back to front. Knit into the front of this crossbar as if it were a normal stitch.
- M1F or Make One Front = place your left-hand needle underneath the crossbar between two stitches, from front to back. Knit into the back of this crossbar as if it were a normal stitch.
Free Poncho Patterns Online
Ponchos are simple in their basic design, making them perfect for embellishments and creative patterns. Try some of these links for a wide variety of different poncho styles.
- Lion Brand Yarn has an extensive collection of patterns for all types of ponchos, including loom knit pieces.
- A creative blogger's take on the basic round poncho, this one is made of stockinette stitch with attractive color changes.
- Here's an airy, lacy one-hank knitted poncho that uses a simple, no-seam technique for creating the neck opening.
- This Aran-styled cabled poncho, is a challenging intermediate-level project for the learning knitter.
- This button-down poncho makes a nice change from the traditional style.
Making Your Own Poncho Knitting Pattern
If all else fails, you can always design your own knitted poncho. For a lightweight, openwork poncho (or a child's poncho) you'll need about 500 yards of yarn. For a larger or heavier weight poncho, around 1,000 yards would be better. The yarn label will tell which needle size makes it knit up nicely, and you'll also need a yarn needle, a stitch dictionary, two locking stitch markers, and a flexible measuring tape. If you're doing a full-size adult poncho, you may want to use a circular knitting needle instead of straight needles to accommodate the large number of stitches. Once you've got your materials:
- Ask a friend to help you measure across your shoulders from side to side; she should read the measurement off in inches. This determines the width of your poncho.
- Read through the stitch dictionary and choose a pattern that you like.
- Knit up a swatch of yarn that's at least 20 inches wide by 20 inches long using the yarn and needles you chose for your poncho, and working in the stitch pattern you chose. Lay a ruler or measuring tape across the middle of the swatch from edge to edge, and count how many stitches are in one inch. Do this in a couple of places on the swatch, and pick the measurement that comes up most frequently.
- Multiply the width of your shoulders by the number of stitches per inch. The result is how many stitches you'll need to cast on. So if your shoulders measure 18 inches across and you knit 8 stitches per inch, you'll need to cast on 18 * 8 = 144 stitches. If the stitch pattern you chose can't be adjusted to be the right number of stitches wide, add extra garter stitches on either side as edging to help you reach the right total.
- Cast on the determined number of stitches. You can knit the first few rows to create a garter stitch edging - the cast-on row and edging will be on the bottom of the finished poncho - or just jump right into the stitch pattern you chose. Keep knitting until the first rectangle reaches the desired length, then bind off loosely. Cut the extra yarn, leaving a tail that's about twice as long as the bound-off end of the rectangle.
- Create another rectangle the same way you made the first; cast on, add edging if desired, then knit until it reaches the desired length. Bind off loosely as you did in the last step.
- Hold the two rectangles with the bound-off edges together, with the loose yarn tails dangling from opposite ends. Use your measuring tape to find the middle of the bound-off edges. Measure 5 inches to one side of the middle, and mark that spot with a locking stitch marker; do the same to the other side, so your locking stitch markers are 10 inches apart. This is the neck opening. You can adjust it to be wider or narrower so it fits over your head and neck comfortably. Just move the stitch markers in or out.
- Thread one of the yarn tails through your yarn needle, and stitch the two rectangles together. Start from the edge where the yarn tail emerges and work in toward the center. Stop when you reach the first locking stitch marker. Weave in the yarn end and cut off any excess yarn.
- Thread the other yarn tail through your yarn needle and stitch the other half of the cast-off edges together, starting from the edge and working in. Stop when you reach the first locking stitch marker, weave in the loose yarn end, and cut off any excess yarn. Your poncho is now complete.
A Rewarding Craft
Simple ponchos make good projects for intermediate knitters who have already created smaller items like scarves and hats. More complicated patterns offer a showcase for a wide variety of knitting techniques. Choose a pattern that fits with your skill level, or one that is slightly more difficult to offer yourself a challenge. Odds are good that you'll find yourself returning to poncho patterns over and over, since there aren't very many knitting projects that offer so much satisfaction, utility and enjoyment in so little time.