So let's dissect this pattern.
First and foremost, it is important to understand your pattern. This pattern uses short rows. What are short rows? They are working a portion of the row, then turning and working again those same stitches for the next row. This is a great pattern to learn about short rows, because there is a lot of practice in working this scarf up.
You have four numbers to work the short rows in this pattern. They are 20, 8, 6, and 4. The 20 are the total number that you start with as well as repeat after working the short rows of the 8, 6, and 4. It will get clearer as you start the scarf.
For my sample, I used #8 needles and worsted weight yarn. My scarf length is 32". For your scarf you can go by the needle size on your yarn label or you can play with yarn and needles to see what affect you get. Bottom line is, it depends on the weight of the yarn and the look you want when you complete the scarf as to the needle size. Since it is a scarf a gauge count is not necessary. This is a great project to play with different yarns to see what you get.
Note: You will not see the potato chips curl until you have done at least 3 inches or 35 rows, depending upon what yarn and needle size you are using. This was the one thing that confused people. They would start the scarf; take it out, start over looking for the curl. Just continue not looking for the curl right away. Your piece will not look the same as if you were working straight rows because you are working short rows.
Cast on 20 stitches
Row 1: Knit 20 stitches, turn
Row 2: Knit 8 sts, turn
(side note: you are knitting each row so when you turn, the yarn should be in the back as it is when you are knitting)
Row 3: Knit 8 sts, turn
Row 4: Knit 6 sts, turn
Row 5: Knit 6 sts, turn
Row 6: Knit 4 sts, turn
Row 7: Knit 4 sts, turn
Repeat rows 1-7 for the length you want.
As you can see, each number except for the foundation row of 20 is worked twice. This is the flow of short rows.
This completes seven rows of one side.
Now you have to get to the other side to work seven rows on that side. Making it clearer, I will call it the right and the left side. You are working back and forth completing seven rows on the right side then working across all stitches (row one) to get to the left side to do the same thing. This creates the ruffles.
Continuing with the pattern of rows 1 - 7. You are repeating all rows to get the mirror affect for both sides.
Let's go back to the beginning. When you get done with the 7 rows on each side, you will see the beginnings of what will look like two potato chips. Can you see them? Well, just continue and it will start to become noticeable.
Another problem is when you might have to put your work down and pick it up, which row did you leave off on. The best thing is to write it down before you put it down. But sometimes you don't have time to do that.
The illustration below shows that there is an indentation at each place when you work the three repeats (8, 6, and 4). Because you are working in short rows it is almost a small hole that is there since that one stitch is a tad bit higher because you are not working across the whole row.
Continue with the pattern. Put it around your neck to see how long you would like it. There is no specific length. This is your project so create it as long or as short as you would like. When you get to the length you would like, bind off across all stitches. Believe it or not, when you bind off the scarf it will curl the same as when you started, showing two potato chips.
Try this scarf. It is great as an accent to what you are wearing and you can make it as long as you want, try different yarns, and in any color. Great for gift giving too.
Have fun and don't be intimidated by this. If you have any questions, please post a comment and I will answer. I'd love to know how your scarf came out.