How to: avoid picking up stitches on a long edge

"How to avoid" is possibly the clumsiest title I could have come up with. But it's arguably more informative at first glance than "Sideways Edge Cast-on", the name given to this cunning technique by Lee Meredith, on whose blog I originally found it. 

At any rate, I hope it gives you the idea: this is a nifty trick to use when you need to knit along a long edge, but would prefer to avoid picking up stitches. Which you can do, sure, I don't doubt your skills, but it does leave a bit of a ridge and can be annoying and hey, if there's an alternative...

Which of course there is. You can add the stitches as you go along, thusly. NB: the method as described below works well when the sideways edge is particularly compacted, as in garter stitch, or if a slightly flared edge is required – ie, it creates a ratio of 1 stitch to 2 rows. However, far more often you will require a ratio of 3 stitches to 4 rows (for standard stocking stitch, no gathering or frills), or something else. Read Lee's blog for a very detailed discussion of possible solutions (in a nutshell: either adjust the number of increases per turn, or work extra increases evenly along the first row of your main body knitting, after completing the edging). The edge shown in these photos is the foam lace edging from Am Meer; it's garter lace, so 1 stitch to 2 rows worked fairly well (garter stitch!) but the edge still flares out, because lace. For the mitts, I let it flare. For the hat, where in any case I wanted a tighter brim, I added increases in the first round of the body.

Some further notes:

  • This method creates one increase per turn (ie, pair of rows). You can choose to work the increase at the start of your first, or end of your second row – it really doesn't matter which. Pick whichever seems more logical to you, or works best with your stitch pattern. In this tutorial (made for the Am Meer pattern) I've opted to do it on the first row. (If you increase at the end of the second row, slip that first, increased stitch after you turn.) 
  • This is basically short row knitting, and normally, one would wrap and turn or something to close the gap. I don't. It doesn't seem to need it, maybe because the kfb increase automatically tightens things up to prevent gaps forming. Feel free to experiment if your results vary.
  • You might find a stitch marker helpful, to separate the edging stitches from the increases. On the assumption that your edging is fairly narrow and easy to count, I don't find it necessary. But as ever, use what works best for you.

Now, let's go.
(NB: This photo tutorial was created for the Am Meer pattern, which uses a garter lace edging that has a variable stitch count. Be not alarmed by the extra mystery stitches!)

1. Kfb (knit into front and back) into the first stitch of your first pattern row. (In the photo, there is already one row on the needle – that's from the provisional cast-on and does not form part of the stitch pattern.) Work to end.




2. Work all your edging stitches – on Row 2 of this pattern, that's 8 stitches – leaving the newly increased stitch. Turn.





3. Rinse and repeat – ie. on all odd-numbered rows kfb into the first stitch of your edging pattern, then work to end; and on even-numbered rows, work across your edging stitches and turn before the increases. The increased stitches will line up neatly beyond that stitch, forming a smart right angle that allows you to see just how the fabric will later grow from the side of your edging, and at the end of odd-numbered rows, you'll have a not-so-smart curve as it's all smooshed together. 

Just keep going until the edging reaches the desired length, ending with an odd-numbered row (all the stitches on one needle). Then you can cast off the edging stitches – or seam them to the cast-on, if you're making a tube – and proceed with your main knitting all beautifully set up. Deliciously simple!

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