A serape is a large, rectangular rug-like garment traditionally worn by the people of Central and South America. Unlike a poncho, the serape is a solid piece of cloth without a head-hole. The only exception to this rule is Guatemala, where the term poncho and serape are interchangeable.
Typically the serape is a loom woven blanket using 2 or 3 ply handspun wool. The actual pattern of the serape will vary depending on the geographical location of the person making the serape, and can even be specific to the individual's town or tribe within their homeland. Patterns aside, most serapes are made with brilliant bands of color on a dark background and the ends of the garment are frequently fringed.
An alternative to loom weaving is a crochet or knit serape. This is an easy project that the newest beginner is capable of.
- 3 or 4 colors of 4-ply or worsted weight yarn. Remember to purchase enough for your wider bands of color.
- Size H crochet hook
- Begin with a foundation chain (single crochet) approximately 36 inches wide with an additional 6 inch tail at each end. The width may be whatever you like, but should be wide enough to reach from forearm to forearm when your arms are spread wide. This foundation chain is NOT counted as row 1.
- Slip stitch in chain 1, single chain in the same chain, then single crochet across the width of the piece. At each end, break off the yarn leaving a six inch tail.
- Weave the tails in from the beginning and ending of each row as you work the pattern. Work a pattern with alternating bands of color in differing widths until your serape is of the desired length (about 72 inches).
- Once your serape is completed, fringe the ends with about 6 inches (12 inches folded in half) of yarn. Cut your choice of yarn colors (single or multiple colors is fine) in 12 inch lengths. Fold a single strand of yarn in half over your crochet hook. Slip the hook through a single chain of the foundation or end chain on your serape, then grasp the loose ends of the strand and pull them back through. Pull the loop snug by hand, being careful not to distort the fabric of your serape. Repeat this process in each chain on both ends of your serape.
Congratulations! You have made your first serape. Find yourself a sombrero and you'll be all set for Cinco de Mayo!