Stochastic Fantastic by Emily Williams

Stochastic Fantastic

February 2011
Worsted (9 wpi) ?
5 stitches and 8 rows = 1 inch
in stockinette
US 7 - 4.5 mm
230 - 270 yards (210 - 247 m)
one size
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This pattern is available for $6.00 USD buy it now

“Stochastic” is nerdy statistics lingo for random. Knitting is normally very orderly and predictable – quite un-stochastic. So could you design a pattern that could emulate the chaotic beauty of nature? Trees in a forest, ripples on a lake, snowflakes …

You can, by using the power of stochasticity - randomness! So, for this project, chance will guide your scarf gradually transitioning from plain stockinette stitch to a field of flowers. Rolling a die to determine flower placement, every single person’s creation will be unique!

Thanks go to Barbara Walker for the inspiration for the flower motif and to my dad (an economics professor, and my backpacking buddy) for the name of the pattern. Photos by the incomparable Vivian Aubrey.

20 stitches = 4”/10 cm in stockinette stitch measured after blocking. Gauge is NOT crucial, but will affect finished size and yardage. Biased fabric is extra-stretchy, as is thin mohair yarn worked at an open gauge as shown here.

Width: 6”/15 cm (measured perpendicular to edges)
Width of row: about 7”/18 cm (diagonal to edges)
Length: about 54”/137 cm (or desired length)
Measured after blocking

This scarf is knit flat on the bias. It begins with plain stockinette stitch, then more and more flowers are gradually added. Flower placement is determined by rolling a die, so every person’s creation will be unique.

Intermediate: lace, non-traditional instructions

Amount: Approximately 230-270 yards/210-250 meters of a yarn or combination of yarns that yields a fabric you like at the specified gauge. Yardage can vary with yarn weight and row gauge.

Character: Fuzzy and single-ply yarns offer a pleasingly organic texture. We suggest lace-weight mohair OR worsted OR fingering held along with lace (requires full yardage of each yarn).

Shown in: yellow/green scarf is Schulana Kid Seta in 06 Kiwi (lace-weight 70% kid mohair, 30% silk).
Dark green scarf is Less Traveled Yarns Baby Suri (lace-weight 74% baby suri alpaca, 26% silk) in Mallard. Swatches (left to right) show: Malabrigo Worsted in Frank Ochre; Malabrigo Mechita in Frank Ochre, held with Lang Mohair Luxe in 114; and Lang Mohair Luxe in 114. All swatches get gauge and used the same needles.

US #7/4.5 mm OR size to get gauge

Darning needle, optional: stitch markers, blocking pins and wires, 6-sided die


  • New layout
  • Gauge adjusted from 6 to 5 stitches per inch. This makes the finished object slightly larger, creates a more open fabric that shows off the flowers better, and allows more flexibility in yarn substitutions and combinations.
  • Discussion of other yarn options
  • Clarification of some terminology
  • Removed slip stitch from beginning of garter edge
  • Clearer chart coloring
  • More photos
  • Other small tweaks for clarity