Posted on Wednesday, July 27 2011 at 8am
[caption id="attachment_4270" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Estonian deer © Siim Sindonen"][/caption]
In our third step-by-step guide to adding beautiful edgings to shawls, Judy Furlong explains the knitting technique of ‘Square-on’ knit edging.
With ‘Square-on’ knit edging, all the stitches for the edging are on the needle right from the beginning, and usually only a few rows are worked outwards from the main section (depending on the depth of the edging), then cast off.
The most obvious practical difference between these two categories is that with sideways edgings you are working with only a few stitches at a time. The bulk of the stitches are simply being held, usually on a long circular needle, until they are joined to the edging one stitch at a time.
It does mean that you are working a relatively large number of rows, usually two rows for every stitch. However, with ‘square on’, you are working on all the stitches - quite a vast number if going all round a baby shawl, for example – but usually only a relatively few rows are worked.
This is one method seen very frequently in modern Estonian-style lace shawls, hence the picture we've used to illustrate the post, showingroe deer in snowy Estonia.
For example, if edging is to be worked on all sides, stitches will be picked up on a circular needle all the way round the shawl and the edging will be worked as very long rows, outwards from the main section and ending with casting off - usually with a double thickness of yarn.
You might expect that casting off all the stitches at once would produce a straight edge, but the familiar wavy outer edge shape is formed by the combination of the stitch pattern used and pulling out the points during dressing. However, do be sure to use the recommended cast-off, otherwise there will not be sufficient stretch in the edge to pull out the points.
The method is pretty straightforward: just slip the first st, K1, slip both sts back onto the LH needle and K2tog tbl, (one st is now on the RH needle), *K1, slip both sts back onto the LH needle and K2tog tbl, repeat from *, repeat until the last K2tog tbl has been worked, fasten off.
Now a word or two about corners. For sideways knit, these can either be mitred using short-row shaping, or worked as extra rows as in Jen Arnall-Culliford’s ‘Golden Wheat’ shawl in The Knitter issue 20, where extra rows are joined to the main section forming a gentle gather to ease round the corner. For ‘square-on’, a mitre is produced by gradual increases – usually yarn overs – or extra stitches are picked up at the corners, again to make that extra fabric needed to ease round the corner.
Beginnings and ends
A straight edge like Anniken’s ‘Lightning shawl’ is the least demanding as it only requires a simple cast-on at the beginning, then a cast-off at end. Slightly more complicated is Anniken’s ‘Setting Sun’ shawl in Issue 27, where the edging goes all the way around.
In this case, the edging stitches are cast on temporarily and then the beginning and end are grafted together.
We have already talked about ‘square-on’ edging where the stitches are picked up or continued from live stitches, and the edging is finished by casting off, but it is worth reiterating that it is essential to use a stretchy cast-off.
Take your time and work in very good light, preferably against a contrasting background cloth. It’s also worth having helpful aids such as little gold safety pins and a crochet hook readily to hand – much better than abandoning your work in a precarious state while you mount a search for these!
Especially with sideways knit edging, keep checking that you haven’t dropped or missed a stitch - this isn’t too difficult to do if you have a very large number of stitches on one needle and just a few border stitches on the other. If you have, don’t panic: just hold it with a little safety pin. If you are confident, unpick your work as far as the dropped stitch.
Otherwise all is still not lost. Usually it is possible to sew it in later without being obvious – don’t let the fear of making a mistake put you off the whole project.
So why do we ever sew on?
Sometimes the stitch design demands a cast-on edge – usually a stretchy cast-on is specified. Make a slip knot, insert the tip of the RH needle into the loop as if to knit, draw up a loop and place it on the LH needle.
Continue for the required number of stitches. This can look pretty unattractive at first glance, but works well for lace when it is stretched out when dressed. When the edging is finished, graft it to the main section.
It normally produces a far nicer result than knitting-on, as that would need a three-needle cast-off which would be visible and might spoil the lace.
Another role for grafting on an edge would be if the tension of the edging is very different from the main piece - for example, a lace edge added to a thicker garment.
In previous weeks we examined Sideways knit edging and Sideways knit edging joined at every row.
About 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.