I was watching a YouTube video by Bernadette Banner Friday morning in which she was constructing the blouse portion of an Edwardian “lingerie gown” (she was recreating a period accurate version of the gown Julie Andrews was wearing during the “Jolly Holiday” scenes in the film “Mary Poppins”). She mentioned binge-watching TV while she was hand-sewing down all the gathers at the top and bottom of the blouse to the respective lace panels and waist band. (This is a woman who considers hand sewing garments a (mostly) soothing, meditative activity in the same way I consider knitting to be, i.e., a kindred spirit.)
Friday afternoon, I finally reached the point in the baby blanket where it was time to begin the knitted-on lace edging. The thing about “knitted on” edgings (versus an edging that you knit as a separate piece and sew onto the work) is that you knit the edging at right angles to the thing you’re edging, and at the end of every other row, you work some kind of decrease, typically a k2tog or ssk, where you knit together one stitch of the edging and one stitch from the work, thereby attaching the edging to the work as part of the finishing process. Knitting on an edging is really just a very fancy way of binding off your work.
I had chosen a “toothed” garter lace pattern with an 8-row repeat, which is to say, working the 8 rows of the pattern gives you one iteration (or “tooth”) of the lace pattern, and you keep repeating those same 8 rows until you have enough to go all the way around. (The original lace pattern was for lace you sew on, so first I had to adapt the pattern to make it “knit-on-able.” See below. ) Each iteration of the lace pattern binds off 4 stitches along the circumference of the blanket. Since the blanket is 513 stitches (9 panels x 57 stitches per panel) in circumference, that’s 128 iterations of the lace pattern. Now, I’m sure you math whizzes have already figured out that 513 cannot be evenly divided by 4. So here’s the math. The blanket has 9 panels. 9 panels x 56 stitches per panel is evenly divisible by 4 (= 126 repeats), but I have to cast on 5 stitches and then knit a “freebie” row to set up the lace pattern, and that setup incorporates 1 of the circumference stitches.
Now, because you are knitting the blanket from the center out, you need to keep increasing the number of stitches at the outer edge in order for the blanket to lie flat — this pattern increases 9 stitches every other row. So, by adding two more rows (the row where you work the yarn-over increases at the end of each of the 9 panels, followed by the row where you work a knit stitch into each of the yarn overs on the previous row), my panels went from 56 stitches to 57 stitches wide, which gives me 9 more stitches to play with. 9 more stitches (57 stitches per panel x 9 panels = 513 stitches in circumference) gives me two more pattern repeats (8 stitches) plus one extra stitch for that setup row. Et, voilá.
Bernadette (see above) reminded me how pleasant it is to binge watch TV while you knit, so I streamed some Acorn TV and binge-watched a 3-part series about the interiors of Buckingham Palace in London, and a 6-part series about traveling in the wilds of Scotland, and got 4 of the 9 panels edged. Tonight I edged another panel and a half, so I’m in the home stretch on this project.
For those of you who are into that kind of thing, here’s how I adapted the pattern for sew-on lace so that it could be knitted on. I had to add in an extra stitch for the ssk that would be worked with one of the work stitches as a means of attaching the lace to the work, and I had to add in a set up row to get the pattern oriented correctly to the work.
Sewn On Version: Cast on 4 sts. Row 1: K1, yo, k2tog, yo, k1. Row 2: K5. Row 3: K2, yo, k2tog, yo, k1. Row 4: K6. Row 5: K3, yo, k2tog, yo, k1. Row 6: K7. Row 7: K4, yo, k2tog, yo, k1. Row 8: Cast off 4 sts, k3. Repeat rows 1-8. Knitted On Version: Cast on 5 sts using e-loop method, k4, ssk, tw. Row 1: Sl1 wyif, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k1. Row 2: K5, ssk, tw. Row 3: Sl1 wyif, k2, yo, k2tog, yo, k1. Row 4: K6, ssk, tw. Row 5: Sl1 wyif, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k1. Row 6: K7, ssk, tw. Row 7: Sl1 wyif, k4, yo, k2tog, yo, k1. Row 8: Cast off 4 sts, k4, ssk, tw. Repeat rows 1-8. Abbreviations: Sl1 wyif = slip 1 stitch purlwise with yarn in front tw - turn work k2tog - knit two stitches together. yo - yarn over (same as yfwd, yarn forward) ssk - slip 2 stitches knitwise onto the right needle, return the two stitches to the left needle and knit them together through the back loop. In this instance, the ssk is worked between the last lace stitch and the next stitch of the circumference stitches, to join the lace to the work.