KBTH Header
Lace Edgings Construction

Faina Letoutchaia

Recent discussion of the lace edgings patterns on the KBTH list was an inspiration for this little article. For this article I will concentrate only on construction of lace edgings. Since I decided to do this article at the last moment for the on-line KBTH conference on lace, I did not have time to knit samples. I will refer to patterns and pictures in Barbara G. Walkers Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Schoolhouse Press edition (the red book). I strongly recommend that you read the introduction to Chapter 15, Edgings on pp. 352-353.

What is lace edging? How it is constructed?

Usually, lace edging is a narrow (in proportion to an item) strip of lace attached as a decorative detail to a shawl, sweater, skirt or other garment. Lace edging usually has one straight edge where it is attached to a garment and the other edge has scallops, sawteeth, or some other kind of indentations.

As an example of lace edging I will use Double Fern Edging, p. 365. As any proud lace knitter, I have invented some chart symbols. Here are the chart symbols:
knit - knit on right side row; purl on wrong side row
yarn over - yarn over
K2tog - knit two together
purl - purl on right side row; knit on wrong side row
bind off - bind off the stitch
stitch remaining - stitch that you have on the right hand needle after you bound off 5 stitches on Row 10
no stitch - no stitch

And here is the chart for Double Fern Edging (cast on 17 stitches):
scalloped outer edge       middle part         straight edge                  

If we analyze the chart and the picture of this pattern, we can see that there are three distinct parts: the part that forms the straight edge; the middle part with lace pattern in it; and the scalloping part.

The first part of this edging, the straight edge, has only four stitches and a two row pattern.


It is a faggoting stitch plus two-stitches-wide garter stitch. This part makes a distinct separation line between the edging and the rest of a garment. Sometimes another kind of faggoting pattern is used for the straight part of the edging, sometimes it is a ladder pattern. If the edging is intended to look more solid, faggoting or ladder is omitted. If it is desirable to have more open edging, there are two lines of faggoting or ladder pattern.
Shark's Tooth Edging on p. 372 has two rows of faggoting.
Buttercup Edging on p. 376 has two rows of ladder pattern on the straight edge.
Bead Medallion Edging with Candle-Flame Scallop on p. 381 has a solid straight edge.

The middle part of the edging is a lace pattern. Here is the chart for the middle part for the Double Fern Edging:

This part of edging patterns can vary greatly. Sometimes this part is very wide. See, for example, Torchon Lace Edging on p. 366. This particular edging does not have the first, straight part, but the middle lace pattern part is very wide. Great-Grandmothers Edging on p. 387 has a very distinct middle part separated on both sides by faggoting pattern; and on one side has an additional ladder separation line.

Sometimes the middle part is completely absent, as in Oak-Leaf Edging on p. 360, (picture on p. 359), or Corded Edging on p. 358, or Sharks Tooth Edging on p. 372.

The third part of any lace edging is the part that forms scallops or teeth on the outer edge.

For scallops additional stitches are made, usually with yarn overs, sometimes one at a time, as in the edging we chose as our basic example; sometimes several at once (it forms oversized eyelets), see for example Quill Edging on p. 369. Then additional stitches are bound off and the pattern starts again. Here is the chart for the scalloped outer part of Double Fern Edging:

As you can see, six additional stitches are made on rows 1, 3, and 5: two stitches per row. Then one stitch is decreased at the end of row 9, and five stitches are bound off at the beginning of row 10; in total, six stitches are decreased so the stitch count is back to the starting number. It makes very nice, gently rounded scallop.

For a sawtooth edge, stitches are added one by one every other row and then decreased one by one every other row. It makes triangular teeth edge. For example see Louvered Edging, p. 370, or Cockleshell Edging, on p. 372, or Alpine Edging, on p. 379.

Now we can put all three parts of our edging together:

You can see that with some simple subtractions or additions you can modify this pattern to suit your particular needs. You can make it more narrow, say by removing two plain stitches from the middle part, or you can delete the middle part completely. You can delete the faggoting on the straight edge; or you can add a faggoting or ladder pattern between the middle and scallop parts to make your edging wider.

If you need to adjust the number of rows you can do it easily. You can do k2tog at the beginning of Row 7 instead of Row 9, and bind off 5 stitches on Row 8 instead of Row 10. On the other hand, you can continue the pattern as set and add two or four additional stitches to a scallop, then bind off seven or nine stitches respectively on the last row of the repeat.

I chose this pattern, Double Fern Edging, for this article because of its simple and clear construction. Not every edging pattern is so easily laid out. Quite frequently you can see that middle part and scallop or teeth parts are fused together imperceptibly. See for example Alpine Edging on p. 379, or Snail Shell Edging on p. 378, and many others. But if you can see the basic construction principles, you can alter any edging to suit your particular needs for the garment you are making.

Also, teeth or scallops might be adorned with picot points, or a yarn over is made at the very beginning of a row to make very elegant additional tiny scallops. These you also can add to an edging you are considering for your shawl; or delete them, if you do not think you like these features.

I would like to inspire you to study lace edging patterns, make your own changes, and please, keep your notes and charts. Your Great-granddaughter may appreciate it very much.

Happy mindful knitting!

copyright 3-19-2006, Faina Letoutchaia