Edges. That topic seems to be recurring. How do I get a nice edge all the way around? Why does the edge on one side look different than the other side? How do I get my cast on, bind off, and side edges all the same? What does it mean to slip the stitch? Why do some patterns say skip instead of slip? Why is it all so confusing?? Well that last one goes with every topic… Let’s try to take the confusion out of the topic of edges on flat panels.
Whether you are making a blanket, a dishcloth, a hand towel, a scarf, or any other flat panel in single knit, you will have 4 edges. Well, unless you are working a triangle… Or a circle… Or a pentagon… Or any other geometric shape… Moving on. The first edge is the cast on edge. The last edge is the bind off edge. Matching those 2 edges are hard enough. But then there are those 2 other pesky side edges.
Some people do not care if they don’t match. I am not one of those people. And I know I am not alone in this. I like all 4 edges to have a nice crochet chain look to it. And that is very easy to accomplish without knowing how to crochet. It is all in the techniques you use.
How do I match my cast on and bind off?
A lot of people have trouble with this so there is no need to feel like the only one. Not only do you need to find a cast on and bind off that matches, it also takes patience and learning to control your tension.
I like using the chain cast on and the basic bind off. They both give a nice crochet chain along the edge. The crochet bind off will also give you a chain edge but is harder to control your tension.
What is a provisional cast on?
Sometimes you will come across a pattern that will use a provisional cast on to provide matching ends. This is a cast on that uses waste yarn. Then after casting on with waste yarn and working a couple of rows, you change to the yarn specified for the project. After the bind off, you then pull out the waste yarn and put the project back on the loom and bind off that edge.
Basically you are binding off ends so that they match exactly the same. This is one way of getting around matching your cast on and bind off. It does create extra work. I prefer to just use the chain cast on and basic bind off since I have learned how to control my tension for both.
How do I use my tension to make them match?
When casting on, I have learned that I need to pull on the working yarn with the chain cast on to get it tight enough. While most people I hear talk about their knitting, their knitting is too tight but their cast on is usually too loose.
When casting on, pull the working yarn so that each chain is tight. It will make that first row harder to knit off but will make the cast on look nicer and not loopy.
You can see how I work the chain cast on by clicking here. I also demonstrate the crochet cast on and compare the two. I discuss first learning the chain cast on and how it was called the crochet cast on so that is what I called it for years before realizing that the method I was using is most commonly called the chain cast on. Hopefully I can clear up some questions regarding that as well.
Now for the bind off. Most people bind off too tightly causing the bind off edge to draw in more than the work itself. And if the cast on is too loose, then you have an odd looking square. This is why I like the basic bind off better than the crochet bind off. The end effect is the same, but it is easier to control your tension with the basic bind off.
Keeping your tension loose when binding off can be tricky, but it’s not that hard. When you bind off using the basic bind off, you will need to work each stitch so that the loops are larger than normal to the point you will think it is too loose and will not look nice. Just knit each stitch and pull the loop larger than usual when you move the loop over the previous stitch to bind it off. Then place that larger loop back on the empty peg next to the next live stitch and continue.
You can see how I work the basic bind off by clicking here. I also demonstrate the crochet bind off as well and compare the two.
With patience and practice, you will be matching your cast on and bind off in no time. Now let’s talk sides….
Why do I need to slip a stitch?
You can just work each row with the written stitch all the way to the end of the row from the beginning.
And this for garter
But if you are wanting that nice chain edge to match your cast on and bind off, then you will need to slip that first stitch.
When you slip the first stitch, you create a chain on the edge because that stitch or loop that was skipped will be carried up the edge of the work. Each chain covers the edge of 2 rows. You can count your rows easily by counting the chains on the edge then multiplying by 2 to get the number of rows you have worked.
What is slipping a stitch?
To slip a stitch is simply to skip it. This is why some loom knit designers just say skip instead of slip.
Slip is a needle knit term and is more applicable when done on needles since you literally slip that stitch from the first needle over to the other needle without working it.
On a loom, you don’t slip it over to anywhere since each peg on the loom holds a stitch. You just skip it.
To keep consistency with needle terms, several loom knit designers use slip instead of skip.
How do I slip a stitch?
Just skip that peg altogether. If it’s in the middle of the work, you will bring the working yarn behind that peg and just work the next stitch unless the pattern indicates to carry the working yarn to the front of the peg. For the edge, you will just start on peg 2 instead of working peg 1. Make sure the working yarn does not come in front of peg 1 unless the pattern specifies to do that.
Why does one side edge look different than the other?
Sometimes the side edges do not match. Especially when working the garter stitch. There is a simple reason and fix to this problem.
When working any stitch pattern that involves a purl stitch at the end of the row, the edge will not match the edge that has a row ending in a knit. Any time you are working a flat panel and are slipping the first stitch of each row to create the chain edge, you will need to always knit the last stitch of every row. Since garter stitch is the most commonly used flat panel stitch that involves purls, I will use it to explain.
This is the side where the knit row ends and the purl row begins after slipping the first stitch.
This is the side where the purl row ends and the knit row begins when you slip the stitch after purling the last stitch.
Garter stitch for a flat panel with any number of stitches is as follows:
Row 1: Knit all
Row 2: Purl all
Repeat rows 1 – 2
Now let’s make them match.
This is the side where the purl row ends and the knit row begins when you slip the stitch after knitting the last stitch of the purl row.
And again, this is the side where the knit row ends and the purl row begins after slipping the first stitch.
Since you want to slip the first stitch of every row, you will need to knit the last stich of every row as well, even on the purl rows. Therefore, the garter stitch for any number of stitches will now read like this:
Row 1: Slip 1, Knit all
Row 2: Slip 1, Purl all except last stitch, Knit last stitch
Repeat rows 1 – 2
By knitting the last stitch on every row, both side edges will be almost the same and will match the chain cast on and basic bind off.
So why do they still not match exactly? This is due to the twist you have when you slip the first stitch then purl the second.
Or you can e-wrap knit the last stitch on the purl row before slipping the first stitch on the knit row for the edge to look like this. Then each side has a twisted chain edge that is just a little different than the cast on and bind off edges.
As I said previously, it takes patience and practice controlling the tension to get a matching cast on and bind off. But it is worth the effort. And when combined with slipping that first stitch, you will get a lovely chain edge on all four sides of your flat panel project.
I hope this helps take the confusion out of matching the edges. Happy loom knitting!
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