A knitted-on border is a great way to add an interesting edge to a shawl or wrap, or to add some decoration to the edge of a sweater or tank. I’ve used this technique many times, including the hem of the Demeter Camisole, in garter stitch as the edging for my second Pi Shawl, and most recently the border for the Foliage Shawl, which will be released tomorrow.
The most wonderful thing about a knitted-on border is that it gives you an edge that is not only decorative, but elastic enough to withstand severe blocking. Quite often, the stretch and openness of lace will be too much for a traditional bound off edge and an alternative must be found. There are many bind-offs specifically for lace, but none of them give quite the same decorative touch as a knitted-on border.
The basic premise behind a knitted-on border is that the border stitches are worked at a 90 degree angle to the body stitches. The border is joined to the body as you work border rows by a joining decrease. This joining decrease can be any kind of decrease, but I prefer a k2tog tbl because it gives a nice firm join without any sloppy open stitches.
So let’s start with the pictures, shall we?
Begin by casting on the number of stitches needed for the border. As you can see I have just attached the body yarn (mauve) to the border yarn (gray) by way of a simple overhand knot. I usually undo my knots later and weave in the ends. But if you were doing the border in the same yarn as the body, then you wouldn’t even need to attach anything, just continue with the same yarn. For ease of demonstration though, we will use 2 different colors of yarn. I used a cable cast on here because I like the nice firm edge.
Work in border pattern until you have one stitch left from the border and one stitch left from the body. Here you can clearly see them – one gray, one mauve. And work a joining decrease using one border and one body stitch. This joining decrease has 2 purposes. 1. It attaches the border-in-progress to the body, and 2. It anchors the body stitch so that it will not unravel. It’s like binding it off, but without involving any other body stitches.
After working a joining decrease, you will turn the piece and work the next border row. But in order to give a flat join and minimize bulk, I like to slip the first border stitch (which is incidentally, the stitch that you just created by working the joining decrease). The stitch to be slipped is the first border stitch closest to the body stitches.
If you continue in this fashion, joining every other border row to the body via a joining decrease, you will begin to see how the border is attached. It can be difficult to see this after only a few rows, but persevere! Here you can clearly see the right angle at which the border is knitted on to the body.
This is an alternate view of the same point, where you can see the way the body and the border stitches twist together to form the joining decrease.
Here you can see the back view of the same point. The knitted on border is clean and even on both right and wrong sides.
A knitted-on border can be worked with a variety of needle preferences. I like to use the same circular needle that is holding my live body stitches to work the border, and if I weren’t using a different color completely, I would place a stitch marker before the final border stitch next to the body so that I would slip the marker and then know to work the joining decrease.
Continue with the border rows until all of the body stitches are used up. I like to finish with a joining row. I work the final row, binding off as I go, until I have one body and one border stitch left, then work my joining decrease and bind off the final stitch. As you can see, the edge lies flat and even this way.
Here you can see how the finished border rows and body stitches meet. There is a tiny bit of mauve peeking out from the border rows where the joining decrease stitches intertwine.
In this close-up you can see how the body rows (mauve) are worked horizontally, and the border rows (gray) are worked vertically.
I hope you found this tutorial useful and clear. If you’ve got any questions, please leave them in the comments and I will answer them in the comments.
Come back tomorrow for the release of the Foliage Shawl pattern.