improve your knitting… that makes your knitting look exquisite!

This is one of those techniques that isn’t in many books and yet works so well … and is so easy to do … and really polishes off your overall flat-knitting.

The technique: a slip-stitch selvage/selvedge. Basically, you slip the first stitch of every row. [A fun fact: selvage is the US spelling; selvedge is the British spelling – both mean the edge or seaming stitch]

That’s it.

And yet the results are amazing: a nice even edge that is easy to pickup for adding edgings or borders or another piece of knitting. You can also leave it untouched as it’s very own finish (as you can see in the picture below of my Spirit of the Southwest shawl — the garter edge on the shawl is greatly enhanced and neatened with the slipped edge stitch). An added benefit to the slipped stitch edge is that the edge (especially in garter) is not floppy or ruffly since it is one stich equals to rows; this pulls in the knitting just enough to keep the edge under control.

A question that is often asked: slip as if to knit (with yarn behind) OR slip as if to purl? Here’s the easy-to-remember rule:

  • if the last stitch of the previous row is a purl, than SLIP AS IF TO KNIT: with the yarn in back, slip the first stitch as if you were going to knit it; do not work the stitch, just slip it to your right hand needle
  • if the last stitch of the previous row is a knit, than SLIP AS IF TO PURL: with the yarn in front, slip the first stitch as if you were going to purl it; do not work the stitch, just slip it to your right hand needle

That’s it.

edge of my "Spirit of the Southwest" shawl ... a nice, clean, chain that needs no other finish

edge of my “Spirit of the Southwest” shawl … a nice, clean, chain that needs no other finish


Just remember to add two stitches to your overall count (unless the designer … like me … has already included this selvage stitch .. which will be noted in the pattern).

If you are going to pickup the edges for adding a knitted border:

  1. with the RS facing, pick up and knit each edge chain – remember each “chain” equals 2 rows of knitting
  2. work a gauge swatch for the edging pattern (whether it’s ribbed, garter, stockinette, whatever)
  3. on next rnd (which will be a WS row), inc stitches by the st-to-row gauge. So for instance, if your gauge is 4 sts x 6 rows, than for every 3 rows, you want to have 2 stitches. Since your pick-up was one stitch for every 2 rows, you will want to inc one stitch per set of 2 picked up stitches — [work 1, m1, work 1]

If you are going to sew two pieces together, just work mattress stitch on the inside edge of the selvage chain, matching “chain” for “chain”.

Try it … you’ll find that it’s very easy to remember to always slip that first stitch in flat-knitting. Do NOT pull the yarn too tight when working the second stitch on the needle, keep the edge loop nice and even and smooth instead. With practice, your muscle-memory will kick in and you’ll be doing amazingly even, beautiful edges without even thinking about it!
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