Knitted-On Border Tutorial
by Catherine J. Hall
There are times when you need a specialized border for a knitted piece. This easy garter stitch border has been around for a long time, and is popular with many knitters and designers. It appears to be sewn on, when in fact it is knitted directly onto the knitted item. It can even be applied to your last row of stitches in lieu of binding off. The border, if worked on 7 or more stitches, will flatten out even the most curly piece of stockinette stitch knitting when applied to the ends or sides. In addition, it provides stability while remaining flexible. This makes it perfect way to end a piece where a too-tight bound off edge would be disastrous, such as on a shawl or other lacy garment. The border is also a fine one for edging a cardigan or a shrug.
Remember that you will be knitting back and forth on as many little rows as you have stitches on the edge to be bordered, so allow a little time. Once the first few rows are done, you will move along quickly and be rewarded with a smooth, decorative, flexible border. Try it, and see for yourself why it was one of Elizabeth Zimmermann's favorite methods.
K = knit
st = stitch
sts = stitches
p-wise = as if to purl
sl = slip stitch from left to right needle
tog = together
If you are using this border in lieu of a bound off edge, start there. Leave the last row of sts on your needles, or put them on a stitch holder. If you are going to edge another area of your knitting, place it beside you with the edge you will knitting into on your left side.
Now, choose a needle size appropriate for the yarn that you are using. Use the needle that you used for the garment, or one in a smaller size for a tighter border.
Step 1 - Cast on the number of sts for the width of your border. This border can be as wide or as narrow as you want, just remember that you will need at least 7 sts if you want your border to flatten curly edges or sides.
Step 2 - K into the cast on edge of the border until there is one st remaining. K this last st tog with the first st of the original piece (this st will either be the first st to be bound off if you are applying the border in lieu of a bound off edge, or it will be the outside st on the bottom row of the side of the piece you have on your left side. If you are applying the border to a cast on edge of the original garment, pick up the first st and work across, just as you would on a bound off edge).
Step 3 - Turn work. K across to end.
Step 4 - Turn work again. Sl 1 P-wise, K until 1 st remains, K last st tog with the next outside st on the original piece.
Step 5 - Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until you have applied the border to the entire side. If you are done after this one side, bind off border sts loosely.
Step 6 - If you want to turn the corner and knit down the next side of the garment, K back and forth as in Steps 3 and 4 three times when you reach the end of one side, always knitting the last st on Step 4 tog with the same corner st. Then continue along the next side of the garment, knitting tog 1 edge st with each border repeat.
Step 7 - After knitting along all sides of the garment, you can attach the end of the border to its cast on edge with kitchener st. Remember, if you are at a 90-degree corner, follow instructions for Step 6. Then, instead of binding off, cut your yarn, leaving a length of yarn for a tail. Now use that end to weave the cast on sts to the ones to be bound off, which leaves a neat join.
You are finished! Take a minute to admire your work. The outside edge should be neatly finished because the slipped stitch at the beginning of Step 4 gives it an even appearance. You can knit or crochet an additional border into those outside stitches if you like. Try a scallop, or leave as is. These neat stitches also make it simple to sew two bordered pieces together. When the garment is finished and all ends are woven in, block the piece as desired.