Yesterday I described two of the more usual methods for attaching edgings to project bodies – plain old mattress stitch seaming, and knitting onto a live stitch or finished edge. Today I continue with a third method. I’m not quite sure what it’s called, so I’ll call it the drawn loop method for now.
I learned this while doing the Forest Path Shawl (Interweave Knits, Summer 2003). If you plan on finding a copy of IK and working the Path, be aware that it appears to be sold out from the back issue collection on the IK website, and that there’s a correction posted in the magazine’s errata pages.
Drawn loop is intended for working a knitted trim onto a finished edge, and seems to be the least bulky of the three methods when used for that purpose. Like plain knitting on, the attachment is worked row by row as the knitting proceeds. Many patterns that use plain knitting on include directions to pick up an endless number of stitches prior to working the attached edging so that the trim is applied to live stitches rather than the original finished edge. The drawn loop method avoids that annoying exercise in endless counting although it does work best when done on a slip-stitch selvage. Unlike knitting on, there’s no column of double stitch thickness decreases formed where the edging meets the main body. As such, it’s particularly airy. It is however a bit fiddly to do, and works more easily with a smooth finish yarn than with a hairy mohairy type lace yarn.
To use drawn loop, you cast on much as for knitting on. If you use half-hitch, knitting on or a cable cast on to add your edging’s worth of stitches, you do so to your right hand needle, but instead of making a slip-knot for the first, you establish that first stitch by picking up a stitch in the edge-most loop of your main body, then work back a wrong side row to return the yarn strand to the rightmost side of your edging (and point of attachment). If you had the foresight to have incorporated a slip stitch edge in your main piece this will be easy. Otherwise you’ll have to eyeball where to pick up. Difficult (which is why many patterns want you to pick up stitches along finished sides) but with practice this is do-able.
If you use a provisional cast-on like a crocheted chain, you’ll put those new stitches onto the left hand needle, then work a wrong side row using your good yarn to return the rightmost side of the edging (and point of attachment).
Once you’re back at that rightmost edge, you use your needle tip to draw another stitch up through the next selvage loop of the main body. Here’s where it gets tricky. Enlarge that “stitch” until it’s a loop of about 18 inches or so diameter (how big to make it will become clear after you’ve done a couple of iterations). That loop will have two “ends” – one firmly attached to the knitting, the other sliding free trailing back to your yarn ball. Grab the fixed end and give it a gentle tug to make sure there’s no extra slack, then using the loop, work across the right side row of your edging. Flip the work over as usual, and work the wrong side row back, again using the giant loop. When you get back to the point of attachment, give another slight tug to the strand coming from the yarn ball to pull out any excess left over from your giant loop. Then repeat the process, drawing up another giant “stitch” in the next selvage loop and using it to knit a pair of edging rows. All of this sliding of the yarn back and forth as the large loops are made is the reason why this method works better with smooth rather than hairy finish yarns.
Again, like any attachment method that involves butting two pieces of perpendicular knitting, some adjustment of the ratio between rows worked to selvage stitches may be necessary. If the newly done edging is beginning to get too ruffly and fluttery, you may need to rip back a row or two and skip a selvage stitch. If the edging is drawing up and the body is beginning to gather, you may need to work an additional pair of edging rows without attachment.
Like I said, it’s fiddly but effective, creating the lightest possible line of attachment between an edging and a live-stitch-lacking main piece, and avoiding pain-in-the-neck sessions picking up a zillion stitches around a piece’s perimeter. I used drawn loop to good advantage on my Spring Lighting Lacy Scarf pattern, and plan on using it again on future designs.