Knitted-On Edgings – Sideways Knit Edging part 1

Knitted-on EdgingsYou can add beautiful edgings to your shawls without the need for grafting, using Judy Furlong’s three step-by-step guides.

Knitting an edging or border onto a lace project has two great advantages over grafting. First, it avoids the sewing up – which is fabulous news for anyone who dreads that bit. Second, it is a much more fool-proof way to produce a delicate join that allows maximum stretch when the lace is ‘dressed’.

For those who have never attempted this wonderfully rewarding process, dressing requires you to stretch out your dampened piece to amazing proportions, revealing the beauty within.

Anniken Allis’s exquisite lace shawl in The Knitter issue 31, page 72, features a lace edge that’s knitted sideways and is attached at the end of every RS row, and will be used to illustrate this technique. it is a fantastic introduction to knitted-on edgings as there are no corners, no stitches to be picked up and no grafting. There are several other ways to knit on an edging which we will look at in future posts.

The two techniques

Knitted-on edgings are most simply viewed as falling into two main categories, both with variations on a theme. The first are edgings knitted sideways to the main section, either joined at the end of every alternate row (RS or WS rows depending on the pattern directions) or, far less frequently, joined on every row.

In both of these, the stitches of the main piece to which the edging is being attached may be ‘live’; that is, stitches remaining on the needle after knitting the main section, as in the case of Anniken’s shawl.

Alternatively, they may be ‘created’ stitches, which could be the loops produced by removing the waste yarn after a temporary cast-on, or stitches picked up along a selvedge. Once the stitches have been created they can be treated in just the same way as live stitches.

The second category comprises edgings knitted ‘square on’ to the main section, which we will look at next week.

Sideways knit edging, join at end of RS rows

Following Anniken’s instructions for her lightning shawl, the main section of the shawl is knitted first and when completed, there are 477 stitches on the circular needle.

Knitted_on_edgings_step1With RS facing, cast on the 7 border sts (fairly loosely as this edge will be stretched during dressing) alongside the 477 main section sts. It is personal preference whether you use the other end of the circular needle or, like me, you find it more comfortable to use a combination of the circular needle and a straight needle. Note that on RS rows, the order is lying to the right of the shawl.

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Knitted_on_edgings_step2Work Row 1 of the border pattern chart on these newly cast-on sts up to (but not including) the last st.  As the st number varies from row to row, you might like to put a marker in here.

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Knitted_on_edgings_step3K2tog with the first st of the main section – the right-hand st is from the edging and the left-hand st is from the main section. Some designs call for this join to be worked as SSK.

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Knitted_on_edgings_step4Turn work so that the WS is now facing. With yarn forward, slip the first of the border sts as if to purl, slip the marker if used, then work to end of Row 2.

Slipping rather than working this first border st on the alternate row makes a smoother join and helps the look of the lace when it is dressed.

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Knitted_on_edgings_step5Continue to follow the border chart, joining one stitch from the main section with the last border stitch on every RS row (remember that the number of edging sts varies depending on the row of the pattern repeat).

Since the border is joined every other row, each repeat will use 9 sts of the main section.

The directions say to work the chart 53 times; as 9x53=477, once 53 repeats have been worked, all the sts will have been used up and only 7 sts will remain, all of which are border sts. Cast off fairly loosely, remembering that this edge will also be stretched when the shawl is dressed.

Tension

In lace knitting it is very common that the stitch width is twice that of the row height, so when joining rows to sts, you must allow two rows for every stitch. The openness of the lace permits the piece to reach the correct tension during dressing.

Sideways knit edging, join at end of WS rows

A border could also be joined at the end of a WS row, as in Sarah Hatton’s ‘Evening Mist’ shawl in Issue 28 and Jen Arnall-Culliford’s ‘Golden  Wheat’ in Issue 20. It is exactly the same idea, except that in both these examples the joins are at the end of a WS row rather than a RS row - Sarah’s with SSK and Jen’s with P2tog.

The first border stitch is slipped on the alternate (unattached) row – this time it is a RS row. As the join is at the end of a WS row, when the shawl is viewed from the RS, the border is lying to the left.

Next week we’ll offer a step-by-step guide to Sideways knit edging, joined at every row. The week after you'll be able to find out about ‘Square-on’ knit edging, plus some additional tips for creating beautiful edgings on your hand knitted shawls.

Knitwear designer Judy FurlongAbout our expert

Designer Judy Furlong is renowned for her lace and fair isle patterns, and designs for a number of major knitting magazines and yarn companies.

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