I want to share with you this very important (for many reasons) technique that makes your knitting edges perfect.
Let’s look at these pictures first.
This photo shows two swatches. One on the left is worked with garter edge (knit all sts). The right swatch has the nice chained edge.
Can you see how different they are? The left swatch does not have the selvage stitch. The right one does.
Here is top view of the same swatches.
The right one 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 instead of knots. Having said this, I want to mention that sometimes the left side is a choice in the pattern because it complements the whole look of a project. In other words, I am not saying that one is better than the other. We need to know both ways and choose which one works best for our project.
There are a few ways of making this straight edge. You can find explanations that say what you need to do on WS (wrong side of work) and what you do on RS (right side of work).
Honestly, we can make it in a very simple way. Please remember that selvage concerns knitting flat (in rows) only.
Here is what I do. If the stitch pattern does not include selvage stitches, I add 2 sts to the stitch count to allow for selvage.
I ALWAYS slip the first st purlwise with yarn in front like in this picture:
Work in your established pattern to the last stitch. In my swatch I knit all sts, but it could be a very complicated pattern instead.
I ALWAYS knit the last stitch through the back loop as you see below.
That’s it! If you do it every row, your edge will look as good as mine.
No matter what stitch pattern you are knitting, this would be written instructions for selvage:
Every row: Slip the first stitch with yarn in front, work in pattern to last stitch, knit the last stitch through the back loop.
or using standard knitting abbreviations:
ER: Sl1wyf, work in patt to last st, k1tbl.
Comments: When you are making separate pieces of a project and sew them together afterwards, use the Mattress stitch or any stitch of your choice and pick up either a bar or fabric right next to selvage stitch. Selvage stitches are elongated and are not suitable for being used in a seam. You will have holes, if you do use selvage.
Since you added 2 sts to stitch count at the beginning, you do not use the width of the piece in the seam. At the same time your WS will look very neat.
Let me know if this is something new for you or using it already. ~FG