Paying closer attention to edge stitches, and knowing about all the fun ways you can work with them, will make your knitting projects soooo much better. Here are five go-to knitting edges you should definitely know on a first-name basis.
You probably learned about ribbing the minute you started stitching. That's no surprise: The pattern repeats are easy to memorize, plus ribbing lays flat and has a nice stretch.
The types of ribs you'll typically see everywhere are made up of simple knit-purl repeats, where the knits are always knit and the purls are always purled. You've got your even ribs, like "K 1, P 1" or "K 2, P 2", repeated across or around the design. Then you've got the more complex patterns, which are detailed but still simple enough to memorize and to use interchangeably with your original designs.
To create a classic decorative look, it's hard to beat the picot. You can make all kinds of pretty picots in various ways, but the most common is a folded picot hem. The hem starts with a few rows of stockinette stitch, then a row (or round) of yarn overs and decreases, and then some more stockinette stitch.
Adding an i-cord edge along the sides of stitches definitely amps up the "wow" factor, especially when the edge is in a contrasting color. Keep in mind that the i-cord works best if your knit fabric is already laying flat.
If you're working the i-cord at the end, you can use it as a bind-off stitch. When you're working the i-cord on a cast-on or side edge, it's technically called an applied i-cord .
4. Stockinette Stitch Hems
A stockinette stitch hem is the way to go if you're looking for an understated but ultra-polished look. The strong edge it creates is perfect for sleeves or collars, or for button bands on sweaters. Since it's double thick, it also makes an extra-warm edge for a hat . Try working the wrong side in a contrasting color for a style boost.
If you want your edge to be super stretchy, use a provisional cast-on (Judy's Magic Cast-On is our fave!).
Stockinette Stitch Hem Without a Provisional Cast-On
If you don't love working a provisional cast-on, no sweat. Just cast on your stitches as normally would. Work a stockinette stitch (knit on the RS, purl on the WS) for as long as you want your hem, usually about 1 1/2 to 2 inches, taking note of the number of rows or rounds and ending with a purl row.
Now purl the next row on the right side, then continue with a stockinette stitch for the same number of rows. Your hem should fold nicely in half on the purl row you made.
You can knit the next row together with the cast on stitches by putting your needle through the next stitch AND the corresponding cast-on stitch. Otherwise, you can just wait until you're finishing your project and then sew the hem into place. Hint: The first option is a time-saver.
A ruffled edge creates that classy-but-playful effect that can add personality to blanket edges, leg warmers, socks or even hats. It's a super simple technique that you can apply at cast-on or bind-off.
To Cast On a Ruffled Edge
Cast on twice as many stitches as your project will need, and knit two rows (one garter stitch ridge on the right side). Knit to the height of the hem you want, then *K2tog (knit two together) across the entire next row or round.
To Bind Off a Ruffled Edge
Knit to the hem, then increase after every stitch on the next row (*K 1, M1* or *K 1, yo* for an eyelet row). Work the hem to the length you want in stockinette stitch, then work a ridge of garter (knit two rows). Bind off as usual.
The five edges we just talked about aren't the only ones out there, but they're a great place to start. Go crazy and change a rib into a hem, for instance, or a hem into a ruffle.
You can also experiment with more advanced techniques for certain patterns. Knitted-on borders , for example, are genius for lace shawls and blankets.