Friday, January 14, 2011

A neat little edging for garter stitch

Worked back and forth by knitting on every row, garter stitch makes the easiest-to-create of all hand knitted fabrics. However, where the edge is exposed, such as on a scarf or afghan edge, there is often trouble. There may be waving, ruffling, stretching. This trouble may announce itself at the time of knitting, as when an edge comes off the needles a bit loose and wavy, as shown below.

Garter stitch fabric, a bit loose and wavy, before edging

However, somewhat loose fabric is not the only situation where this trouble may arise. Even tight, well-executed garter stitch fabric may face this problem in the future, as it stretches into ruffles while it is worn.

Today's post shows an uber-easy edging which will cure existing garter-edge problems and prevent future ones.

Tight (back) and loose (front) garter stitch fabric, edged

This edging can be applied with a knitting needle, although it is easier to do it with a crochet hook, as illustrated. This technique is called "slip stitch" and creates a neat little chain around the garment.  The chain constrains the edge.  Once edged, the garter stitch fabric can stretch sufficiently to preserve the knitting's stretchy nature, but not so much as to permit ruffling.

As far as appearance, chain edging garter stitch offers a simple design element, suitable to all. Both MrTECH--that fashion-averse curmudgeon, and MsTECH--that teen fashion-setter, find this edging attractive--a rare case of agreement between these fashion-opposites.

Here's how, in 3 steps.

Step 1: Insert the crochet hook (or knitting needle) through the edge of the fabric.  Take a note of just WHERE on the stitch you are inserting--as long as you insert into the same part of every stitch, you will get a pleasant, consistent edging.  I think it looks best to insert a bit off the very edge, leaving a bit of the original garter edge showing above the chain as in the photos, but you must use your own judgment--some prefer the look of a chain right along the very edge of the fabric.

Once the hook (or needle) is through the fabric, catch the running yarn and draw up a loop. Now, go to the next stitch of your garter stitch fabric and again insert, catching the yarn on the hook or needle. The below illustration shows the hook inserted through the fabric, from front to back, catching the running yarn, and about to pull the second loop through the fabric edge--the first loop was pulled through the same manner.

Step 1

 Step 2: The second loop has been drawn through the fabric. There are now two loops on the hook on the front face of the fabric.

Step 2

Step 3: The last step is to draw the second loop  (the one more towards the business end of the hook/needle) THROUGH the first loop (the one more towards the handle).

As the steps are repeated and the just-pulled-through chain drawn through the one before it on the hook or needle, you will see a pleasant-looking chain forming along the edge of the garter stitch fabric. The chain only shows on the front face of the fabric--there is a neat "stitched" look on the back of the fabric.

The edge of the fabric will not ruffle and stretch when edged in this manner.

Step 3

Of course in this, as in all things, "use makes master" as the Latin saying goes. If your edging is coming out too tight or too loose, change needle or hook size (or pull more or less hard) until you get the "just right" tension you're looking for: firm but not unyielding.  It's very easy to pull this edge out and re-do, so mess around until you like the tension --you'll know when you get there.

Happy knitting --TK
PS:  There is a view of another edged garter stitch scarf--a quite tailored one, on Ravelry, if you click here. When you get there, click on the top photo, and then on the "+" sign on the photo, and you will get quite a closeup of the front and the back of this edging on the mustard-colored scarf at the link.

You have been reading TECHknitting blog on chain edging for garter stitch fabrics