Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chain selvedge a.k.a. "slipped selvedge"

includes a how-to
If you slip the first stitch of every row (or every last stitch--makes no difference) you will get a lovely chained selvedge--a big improvement over the lumpy bumpy edges much knitting exhibits. When the time comes for picking up stitches (for a neck edge or a front band, or around the heel tab of a sock) you will be glad you have lovely, even chains to pick up through.

Here is chain selvedge by the "slip the first stitch" method, in four illustrated steps.

1. (Below) Knit the last stitch of the row through the back loop (tbl), as illustrated.
click picture
chain selvedge step 1
2. (Below) Draw the new stitch (green) up onto the right needle (brown) with the right "arm" of the new stitch forward, as illustrated. Withdraw the left needle (blue), leaving all the stitches on the right needle.
click picture
chain selvedge step 2
3. (Below) Switch the needles in your hands. The needle which used to be the right needle (brown) has become the left needle with all the stitches on it, the needle which used to be the left needle (blue) has become the empty needle held in the right hand. With the right hand holding the empty needle (blue), DO NOT KNIT the first stitch (green), but merely slip it PURLWISE from the left needle to the right needle. Knit the rest of the stitches as you normally would, until you come to the last stitch. Repeat from step 1 through 3 for the length of the knitted piece.
click picture
chain selvedge step 3
4. (Below) If you have followed the above instructions, the slipped stitch should lie "open" as illustrated on the left.
click picture
chain selvedge side view

PS: Note that if you choose to work a slipped selvedge, it is very common to add 1 stitch at each edge of your knitting (2 stitches total).  In other words, if your pattern calls for casting on 30 stitches, you would actually cast on 32, thus assuring that your slipped selvedge in no way interferes with whatever the pattern instructions are.  Naturally, if you look over the pattern and see that the edges are simply plain anyway, you could just work the slipped selvedge on the two edge stitches without adding. Yet, even in this context, many confirmed slip-stitches would go ahead and add the two stitches anyway, out of habit.


Bells said...

I am so happy I found your blog! Your diagrams are fantastic and I'm learning so much. Sometimes it's stuff I kinda knew, but now i know WHY it happens that way - always a good thing. So thanks!

--TECHknitter said...

--You're very welcome. And thanks for the comment--it's nice to know I'm hitting the mark...

HRSD415 said...

I much prefer the bump edge, particularly for garter stitch. When doing garter based lace work, the bump edge retains more elasticity and is less apparent when one has to pick up stitches along that edge. I also find that some people make the stitch too tight along the edge and have problems with the resulting slipped edge being somewhat shorter than the rest of the piece. AS with most aspects of knitting, there is no right or wrong, only different. Love the blog.

willi said...

For some obscure reason, I tend to find that I have forgotten to slip the stitch properly some rows back. Is there an easy way to fix this without going all the way back. I seem to lose things when trying to fix things at the beginning or ends or rows. Or does one just ignore it and fudge it...I'm really not the fudgy type ;o)

Thanks again for all your exceptional work.

--TECHknitter said...

Hi hrsd415, hi Willi.

1.As to bumps: I agree, hrsd415: many knitters DO prefer a bump edge (created by knitting the last and first stitch every time on every row--ie. not slipping anything). It certainly makes it easy to match seams when sewing, row for row. There are two things to be careful about with bumps, however.

The first problem with the bump edge arises from how you supply the yarn for the first stitch of the new row. If you sometimes carry the yarn for the new row "around" the back of the old row (which twists the last stitch of the old row one way) and sometimes "through" the front of the old row (which twists the last stitch of the old row the other way) you will get a very messy edge. So, it you are inclined to "bump-ify" your edges, be careful to carry the yarn the same way around for the first stitch of every row (ie: be careful to impart the same twist to the last stitch of the old row, every time). It doesn't actually matter much which way you end up choosing-- consistency is the key here.

The second problem with a bump edge arises when you are picking up stitches through that edge, instead of sewing seams. Picking up stitches through a bump edge is harder than picking up stitches through a slipped edge--a slipped edge makes it very easy to be consistent because its easier to see what you're doing, whereas a bump edge has the tendency to be obscured, especially in dark or hairy yarn.

When all is said and done, whether to choose a slipped edge vs. a bump edge is a matter of judgment and opinion. Probably for a start, a slipped edge will give a beginner a better edge with more control over the finished product, but as is evident from hrsd415's comment, nothing is foolproof: for a good result, it IS important to pay attention to the tension of the slipped stitch.

2. Fixing stitches at the beginning and end of rows. My experience accords with yours, Willi: it IS very hard to fix stitches at the beginning and end of rows. The best I can suggest is to stabilize the second column of stitches in from the edge with a temporary line of sewn or crocheted stitches (a technique derived from that used to preparing a steek before cutting) before you drop down the edge stitches to fix them. Hope this helps (and thanks for your kind words about the TECHknitting blog.)


--TECHknitter said...

Comment added 10-17-07

For information about how to correct ERRORS at a side edge, see the TUTORIAL of 10-17-07 (use indexes in side column or navigate through archives)

Lescargot said...

I'm so glad to have found this site! I have a question about the number of stitches you would cast on in order to create this selvedge. Do you cast on two extra stitches?

Anonymous said...

Can a person mattress stitch to join the seams with this selvage, and where would they do that, one stitch in?

Anonymous said...

So, in summary, i would:

Slip the first stitch knitwise, K to send of row, knit the last stitch twisted, turn the work.

On the purl row I would slip the first stitch purlwise, P to end, P the last stitch twisted, turn the work.

Anonymous said...

How would we achieve this in 1x1 ribbing?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog. I was slipping the first stitch on my baby afghan, but it still didn't look right. Thanks to your blog, I learned that I should be slipping purlwise instead! Thanks again, Jean M.

Arwyn said...

The second picture doesn't look right. The green yarn should be going through the loop on the blue needle twice (in and out). I'm also just having difficulty making these instructions work, although I know what it's trying to do.

Also, what then do you do on a purl-row? Or when the previous row ends in purl? And do you add two stitches to a patterned work for the selvage row? How do you keep it from being too tight (I'm not generally a tight knitter, but my selvages are always tighter than the body of the work)?

Thank you.

--TECHknitter said...

Some answers to questions here in the comments:

1. Regarding adding stitches:-the slipped selvedge doesn't ADD any stitches in and of itself, it is simply a different METHOD of working selvedge stitches. Therefore if your pattern has already figured in selvedge stitches (and nearly all patterns do) then you need not add any stitches to work the selvedges in this method. BUT, see answer #2

2. For the mattress stitch, yes, it would have to be done one stitch in. IN THIS CASE, you WOULD have to add two extra stitches for the selvedge stitches. However, if, instead of using the mattress stitch, you slip stitch your seams (using a crochet or knitting needle) then you work right through the slipped selvedge stitches. If you do choose to slip stitch the garment pieces together through a slipped selvedge stitch, you can choose to work the connecting slip stitch through BOTH legs or through only ONE leg of each selvedge stitch--try and see which you like better. Also, if you are slip stitching your garment together, you need not add any selvedge stitches to your stitch count.

3. As far as 1x1 ribbing, there is no reason not to simply work the edge stitch as a slipped selvedge stitch, just as if the fabric were stockinette.

4. The second picture shows what happens when you've changed the work and are now holding it in opposite hands to the first picture. Also, as far as the tightness, the selvedge stitch has to be worked loosely because each selvedge stitch has to stretch up TWO rows.

Thanks to you all for writing. --TK

PS: If you want a more timely response, you can e-mail me: TECHknitting-AT-hotmail.com (re-edit to replace the "-AT-" with the symbol "@")

Anonymous said...

First off, thank you for your blog. I love reading it and it has helped me a lot. I have a question. I am knitting a bottom up triangle kerchief in garter stitch. If I slip purlwise, I get bumps. If I don't slip I get bumps. If I slip knitwise I get bumps. I know it must have something to do with the kfb I am doing at the end of every row, but I haven't been able to figure out how to get a chain edge. Any ideas?

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Anonymous. I think the bumps you are getting may have to do with the way you are wrapping the yarn AFTER you do the slipping. As shown in the third illustration, after slipping, the yarn running to the ball should run from the front arm of the slipped stitch. If it runs from the back arm, you will get a bump. If you try this and you are still getting a bump, write back.


Ve said...

Love the blog! Thank you for all of your hard work. I just found the site a couple of days ago and am making my through reading all of the posts.

I have a question regarding this method: I have made this "slipped selvedge" by knitting the final stitch of the first row (not tbl), turning my work, then slipping the first stitch with my working yarn in front, and then bringing the working yarn in between the needles to the back of my work where I am ready to start knitting again. My selvedge seems to turn out the same way as your's does (without the twisted loops). Am I just doing the same thing you are, but in a different way? Or is your method better? Thanks, Ve

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Ve--glad you like the blog. I believe you are getting the same result by a different method--a very usual thing in knitting! Thanks for writing. --TK

Amy said...

I'm glad I found your blog! Most others I've read left me feeling more confused! My question is, what do I do when I'm changing colors (how do I slip the first stitch)


anne said...

How do you do a slip stitch join? I have only done mattress stitch, but this looks interesting.


TECHknitter said...

Hi Amy, hi Ann. If you want to be really sure of an answer, please write to the hotmail address (avail under the "contact me" button on the blog). That gives a much faster answer. In any case, sorry for the delay.

As far as changing colors goes, this is a tough one--if you use a chain selvedge, you will get a color "jog," because a chain selvedge is actually two rows high, due to the slipping procedure. So, you must make up your mind which color you want to see jog. The best advice is to pick a color and stick to that. It does make a jog, but if you stick to one method or another (change colors before OR after the jog, but not both) you will get a repeating pattern which looks well.

Regarding the slip stitch join, this can be done with a knitting needle, but it is easier with a crochet hook--it is nothing but the crocheted slip stitch. This makes a somewhat bulkier join than the mattress stitch BUT...

In my analysis, the the advantages of the slip stitch seam far outweigh those of the mattress stitch for one main reason: If your seam gets off (where one side of the garment is being consumed at a faster rate than the other, a very usual flaw) the mattress stitch is a very bear to remove. By contrast, the slip stitch unravels instantly. Further, the bulk can be significantly reduced by working the slip stitch seam with a matching color very thin (sock or fingering) yarn.

Also, the slip stitch seam goes in in a fraction of the time it takes to mattress stitch.

JaimeSews said...

Thank you so much - I am a very new knitter and someone on a forum was trying to explain this to me but I wasn't following. Your pictures help it make perfect sense! :)

Ghost of a Rose said...

These instructions appear to be for garter stitch (knitting all rows regardless of whether you are working on the front or the back.)

How do you do it for stockinette? Do you work the purl rows differently, such as purl through back loop on the last stitch - or do you still knit through back loop? Do you still slip the first stitch purlwise no matter whether you are working a knit row or purl row?

Anonymous asked this question in a different way above, but it wasn't answered. With so many questions, I'm sure it was just accidentally overlooked.

I'm sending you an email with this question, but I wanted to also post it here so that others could get the answer too.

Thank you so much for all your help! After over 40 years of knitting, I still learn so much from this blog!

rebecca said...

i pretty much love you right now. thanks to an error in my pattern, my cardigan was coming out with different looking left and right edges (seed st front panels; instructions said to sl kw wyb on one side and sl pw wyf on the other... well the kw slip ended up looking like a bumpy wrap vs. a pretty selvedge) so i took a risk and dropped down sone 25 rows and now they match! i need to post your link somewhere for others doing the pattern as everyone's (on rav) is coming out wrong!

TECHknitter said...

Hi Rebecca--glad it is now working out. Chain selvedges are kinda tricky sometimes. Thanks for writing. TK

Anonymous said...

I'm knitting an afaghan, an this is my first time knitting, and i was wondering if the cast on row count as the first row?

TECHknitter said...

Hi Joan--First, congrats on taking up knitting. As to your question, there is a post about this very issue. If you will cut and paste the below link into your browser window, you will find it.


Best regards, TK
(PS: there is an index to this blog. The link is in the righthand column, near the top.)

Juanita said...

I am a beginner knitter. After I cast on and begin the second row my first stitch it looks very funny and I cannot make it small the rest of the garment.

TECHknitter said...

Hi Juanita--I think you are going to have to knit a few more rows before you can start to see the effect of slipping the edge stitches. Best, TK

Ghost of a Rose said...

Boy do I feel stupid. I've realized that my question above (how to work it in stockinette vs. garter st) doesn't make any sense. It doesn't matter what you do with the other stitches in the row, you still work the edge stitches the same way - they are a selvedge stitch, and not part of the stitch pattern. Duh!

Sometimes I prefer to slip the last stitch of each row instead of the first. I knit the first stitch of each row through the back loop, and slip the last st of the row purlwise with yarn in front. I turn, and the yarn is right there already in place to knit the first st of the new row tbl. Yet another way of doing the same thing.

Both ways work fine. But I have noticed that the chain along the edge may tend to roll a little to one side (depending on the yarn and stitch pattern.) Thus, the edge on one side tends to have the typical "chain stitch crochet" appearance with both arms of the chain stitches showing. If you flip the piece over, the same edge when viewed from the other side has an "outlined with a single strand of yarn" look, with just one arm of each chain clearly visible.

For a seamed edge, this doesn't matter. But for an exposed edge, you might prefer one look over the other. A little experimental swatching can determine which look you prefer for the right side; and whether slipping the first stitch or the last one will give you the look you prefer when viewed from the right side of the work.

I figured that out when I was trying to make the side edge of my piece match the bind-off, since both would be visible in the finished piece. The side edge didn't look exactly like the the bind-off unless I slipped the last stitch of each row instead of the first.

If both the right-hand edge and the left-hand edge will be exposed in the finished piece (as for a washcloth or afghan), you'll probably want both edges to be identical. (If you're as OCD as I am, anyway!)

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm thinking that in such a case it might look best if BOTH the first and last stitches were slipped in the same row (on the purl rows for example), then both ktbl on the following row (on the knit rows, in this example.) Then the chain would roll towards the same side of the work on both edges. Does that make sense? Do you think it would work? (And am I certifiably OCD to care?)

Ghost of a Rose said...

I should specify that I'm not referring to the roll of stockinette fabric, but only to the chain edge itself. The piece I discovered this on was worked in non-roll garter stitch. I shouldn't have used stockinette for my example above, it was just easier to explain what I meant that way.

Liam-Sean said...

I do a variation on this in which I simply purl the last stitch of every row and then slip knitwise. It gives the crossed "wrong" look that you illustrate above, but I like the flat, braided edge it gives. It also blends perfectly with the way the border looks on top where I did my long tail cast on. So I end up with a baby blanket with a beautiful braided edging all the way around.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to thank you for this tutorial. I'm working on a sweater that has a chain selvedge, and I couldn't figure out why I was getting a wrapped bump instead of a flat chain. Turns out I didn't move the yarn back between the needles (like you would for ribbing), but was bringing the yarn around the outer stitch to move into position to knit after slipping PW.

Thanks for leading me to my AHA!! moment!