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Friday, February 13, 2009

Knitting Tips: A selvage stitch.

I want to share some of the knitting techniques that are very important to me. Sometimes we knit the most difficult part of the pattern and forget about or don't know the little details that make the finished piece beautiful. I am knitting for many years and I am still learning, believe me. I love to read the history of knitting and learn about all kinds of ways to knit and manipulate stitches and yarns. From what I have read I understand that unfortunately it is not very easy to research this subject because this craft mostly was not recorded. In many parts of the world knitting was taught person to person by showing. Thanks to many researches and authors of our time we have collections of stitches and techniques. There is no uniformity on symbols for charts or abbreviations and on how to write a pattern to this day. There are thoughts of coming up with the system.
How do you hold your needles? Do you notice that many people are holding it differently? Does this mean you are not doing it right? Not really. As long as it is comfortable for you and you are taking care of the yarn tension it is absolutely fine.
Let's say you know how to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off. Does it mean you know how to knit? Yes, you are a beginner-level knitter. Do you want to know what else is there? Well, the whole world of knitting techniques that will help you to produce those beautiful stitches that you have seen on sweaters, shawls, and other knitted projects.
We are not going to talk about anything too complicated. Let's start with quick changes.

A Selvage Stitch.
Look at these pictures first.
This one shows two swatches worked in Garter Stitch (knit all sts).

Can you see how different the edges are? The left swatch does not have the selvage stitch. The right one does.

Here is another view of the same swatches.

The right side has a very even edge which makes a good finish. It is as important for a scarf as for a detail of a sweater. When you need to sew pieces together, it is so much nicer to work with these straight edges, not knots. Sometimes the left side is a choice in the pattern if it complements the whole look of a project.

There are a few ways how to obtain this straight edge. I make it simple for myself.
Here is what I do. If the pattern does not include selvage stitches, I add 2 sts to the stitch count.
I ALWAYS slip the first st purlwise with yarn in front like in this picture:

The stitch will be on your right needle.

Knit the rest of sts in the pattern to the last one. This time you knit all sts, but it could be a very complicated pattern with selvage sts done this way.

ALWAYS knit the last stitch through the back loop like this.
Repeat every row: Slip the first st with yarn in front and knit the last st tbl (through back loop). The result is the nice edge you see in the first two photos.


Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this, along with pictures. I could only find written instructions on other sites and didn't understand exactly why or how to use this stitch. Now I think I get it!

Carolyne said...

thanks so much. it seems like there are as many explanations for this term as there are knitters. i compared your picture with my sweater and the look i wanted and knew that this was the explanation that would work best for my garter stitch sweater.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this! I can't wait to use it on my next project!