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How to knit zig zags

Add a bit of color to your knitting. Elizabeth Bagwell explains 3 simple ways to knit zig zags, either vertically or horizontally.

Once you’ve got the hang of stripes, zig zags are a fun way to expand your skills. They’re a great way to use up scraps of yarn for a scarf. You can knit either horizontal or vertical zig zags, and use either shaping or colorwork techniques.

Shaping zig zags

Increases and decreases form nice, clean lines that are ideal for making zig zag patterns. Horizontal zig zags are an easy way to see the effect of shaping on plain knitting.

How to knit horizontal zig zags

Pairs of increases and decreases spaced at regular intervals can turn knitting into zig zags. Best of all, you don’t need to change the pattern as you go. Repeat this two line pattern (or a similar one) for long enough, and you’ll have a chevron scarf.

Zig Zag pattern


Cast on a multiple of 16 stitches
Row 1: *K2tog, K5, kfb twice, K5, ssk. Rep from * to end
Row 2: Purl


Horizontal zig zags: If you want the cast on and cast off edges of your work to stay square, you can knit zig zags using stranded colorwork. It’s the same as any other colorwork pattern: to keep it simple, try to use only one or two colors per row and keep the color changes short, typically 5-7 stitches or less.

step 2

Pro Tip

Add stripes as you would normally, using only one color yarn per row.

How to knit vertical zig zags

Depending on how wide you want your zig zags, you can either use stranded colorwork or intarsia. Intarsia works really well for vertical zig zags, and uses less yarn. If you’re working in the round, use stranded colorwork.


Pro Tip

Knitting vertical zig zags are like vertical stripes. Simply knit until you need to change color, twist the two strands together and continue with the new color.

Patterns to make you zig-a-zig-ahh!