Machine Knitting - Quick Latch Off Edging

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Most machine knitters know how to knit a loose final row, then use the latch tool to pull each loop through the previous loop across the row. Here are some variations that can give more of an edge to the finished garment. Use them in any combination you wish.
  • Use two ends of yarn the main yarn together, or three or four ends.

  • Use a thick fancy yarn, toning with or contrasting with the main yarn. Use that lonely ball of fancy hand knitting yarn that's waiting for a special task, or combine a couple of yarns to make an interesting effect.

  • When you get to the end, don't cut the yarn! Put a short thread or stitch holder through the final loop so that it doesn't unravel, then turn the fabric like the page of a book so that the knit side is facing. Place it back on the needles, picking up the whole stitch with the chain edge lying above the needles. Knit another loose row (with carriage or by hand) and link off again.

  • Try the two row variation (above) with normal or thicker yarn, or one row of each. You might need to adjust the tension (stitch size) so try it out first.

  • Two rows (on opposite sides of course) gives a nice stable edge for the bottom of a light summer top. You could try three or more rows, reversing each time, for a deeper edging.

  • Knit the loose row very loosely indeed so that the loops are long, e.g. knitted back to A position. Pick up the first loop and rotate the latch tool a few times to put a twist in the loop, then pull the next loop through and repeat. To make it consistent, count the number of rotations and always rotate in the same direction. This works better on finer yarn because you can get more twists in it. Combine with any of the ideas above.

  • When picking up the second row, if you are going to use a thick yarn you might prefer to pick up every second stitch to make the tension work out better.

  • On the second row, pick up every second stitch, kinit and latch off. Then for the next row pick up every other stitch. Do these in two contrasting yarns, or in the same yarn for texture.

  • If the edge of the fabric has more stitches to pick up than you have needles, that's not a problem. Pick up what you can, knit and link them off, then pick up the rest and continue. You can even work small sections around a circle when the garment is already sewn up.

  • Use some of the above ideas, but pick up stitches anywhere on the surface of the completed garment, in any direction, to form a decorative line. If working a second closely parallel line, you could pick up some of the garment stitches through the first trim (transfer tool under first trim and pick up garment stitch; hang stitch and first trim onto needle) in order to get a cross-over effect.

  • Once your edging is complete, cut the yarn and pull the end through the final loop.

    If you have one of those small hand-held linkers to do most of the work for you, these techniques are very quick and fun. If you do it by hand with the latch tool, you'll improve your skill so much that you'll soon be able to do it as fast as with a linker!

This is just one example of how you can take a very, very simple technique, one that we almost take for granted, and find new variations which are interesting and useful. Some of the ideas came from chats with members of the SouthKnit Yahoo group, and the rest from playing, errr... I mean, experimenting around.

After trying these variations, you might think of some of your own. OK, how about the chain cast-on, can you think of variations to make that decorative or more substantial? I'm sure you can!

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See also the following related Guides:
Knitting Machines - Sponge bar info, advice on buying a machine, what comes with it, etc
Knitting Machine True and False - Common misconceptions clarified, FAQ
A search in Guides for "kniting machine" should list them all.

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