Knitting on a border so that it looks smooth may look challenging, but it is easy and dare I say it, fun!! There are probably as many ways to do it as there are cast on’s, but usually, this is the way that I find works the simplest for me.
Step 1- find a border. This may be the hardest part as there are SO many beautiful options to choose. On the March Trinity Shawl, I tried at least 7 before I decided on this simple garter scallop from Nicky Epstein’s book Knitting on the Edge. It is important that the border and body of your shawl are at least friendly in pattern even if they are not related.
Step 2-Swatch the border. Ok, I know many will be tempted to skip this step, but DON’T, it is important, I knit the body of this shawl on a 10 and the border took a 6.
On this one I used a 3 for the body and the shawl, take the time to swatch, it’s worth it!!
Step 3- Align your border swatch with your shawl, take note of where the border repeats fall compared to your shawl repeats. This is critical if you want a smooth edge, and the same amount of border on each side!
Step 4- Time to knit on! I add one stitch to the smooth side of the border, (this is the side you will attach), NOTE it will not be included in your stitch count if you are using a charted pattern! Cast on the stitches for your border +1. (On the Trinity Shawl, I used a provisional CO so that I could finish the top of my shawl with an I-cord.) If your border starts with a right side row, work row 1 to your added stitch, slip this stitch, purlwise to the right needle, using the left needle pick up a stitch along your shawl edge, pass the slip stitch back to the left needle and knit these two, (the picked up stitch and the slipped stitch), together through the back loop. (If your border starts with a wrong side row, work this row as usual then begin attaching on the next row.) Turn your work, with the yarn in front, slip the first stitch purlwise, take the yarn to the back and complete the row.
Work your way around making sure to attach evenly. It is fine to occasionally attach in the same stitch twice to make your pattern come out even, just make sure to space these double joins out.
What to do at a corner?
Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find a border with a corresponding corner chart, but most of the time you’ll have to wing it! On the trinity shawl, I made sure to end one full repeat of the chart at the bottom corner. Next I worked one full repeat of the chart with short rows and NO joins to the shawl. Quite simply, I worked the first half of the chart as written, working up to the next to the last stitch, wrap and turn, work to the end and repeat, working to one before the last wrap, wrap and turn, work back. On the second half of the chart, I worked up the stitches picking up the wraps as they came. At the completion of the chart you’ll be back to working all the stitches and be ready to start attaching them up the other side as before. Corners take a little finesse, don’t get frustrated if they don’t work out the first time, just try again!
Borders can be knit then sewed on, but it is worth it in the long run to knit them on! Let me know if there are any questions!!