Knitted-on edgings

My Pi Shawl is turning a corner into the “almost done” territory – the really for real almost done kind of almost done. I’m on the knitted-on garter stitch border, which is one of the border options that Elizabeth Zimmerman suggests in the pattern instructions. There are a couple of other more lacy options, and I had really thought that I would try something a bit fancier this time around – it’s my 3rd Pi Shawl and every other one has had the same garter stitch border. Turns out I like what I like, and I’m going to have 3 Pi Shawls in exactly the same style.

Pi Shawl - almost there

When I mentioned in my last post that a knitted-on border is really just a big slow cast-off, blog reader Linda (hi, Linda!) asked for more explanation about what that means. Well, here’s a nice aerial shot of the border in progress for a bit of visual support. Knitted-on borders or edgings come into play with items like shawls or blankets, where you have been working the piece from the centre-out and need to finish the edge in a way that is both visually pleasing and slightly malleable. This is especially true of circular or square shawls/blankets: If you were to bind off the edges straight out, likely the edge would start to pucker slightly. A knitted circle needs to be closed off by a slightly larger circle, not a snug one. Bind-off edges tend to be fairly firm, so adding a firm edge to a circle wouldn’t give it the nice drapey, wider-circle-than-the-circle-it-is-finishing-off kind of edge.

Enter the knitted-on border. This is straight-up garter stitch, nothing too complicated or patterned. started by casting on 8 new stitches right off of the live edge of the circle. on the right side of the work I knit 7, then do an ‘ssk’ to work 2 sts together – the final stitch of the edging plus one of the live stitches at the edge of the shawl. To come back on the wrong side I slip 1 st, then knit 7. I keep going like this until all the stitches are consumed. Effectively, this is knitting an edging and casting off at the same time, but really what’s happening is that the edging is eating up 1 stitch of the shawl edge for every 2 rows. Then when I block it, the outer edge will be nice and flexible.

On that note, I’d better keep knitting if I’m going to get this sucker done this weekend! Happy knitting this Saturday, friends – I hope you have a nice refreshing beverage by you too.


Pattern: Pi Shawl (July shawl), directions in Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock, in ‘eggplant’ (in progress)




  1. How many skeins of Malabrigo Sock are you using for your Pi?

  2. On the wrong side, wouldn’t you slip one then knit 7 (not 8) stitches? Just tried this and came out with 7. Lord knows, I could very well be wrong. So could you explain or reference if I am wrong. Thank you and enjoy San Francisco. We’re having lovely weather here.

  3. Ah yes of course you’re right about that. Must have had some brain fuzz going on there 😉


  4. Bonita Pate Davis · ·

    Thanks for the pic and the explanation. Now I understand how the border works. Beautiful color.


  5. Edith R. · ·

    Can knitted on edging be used for making button bands. Maybe drop a needle size and knit into every other stitch?

  6. Bonita Pate Davis · ·

    Unless you knit the garment from side to side, you wouldn’t have live stitches, but yes, you could pick up the right number of live stitches, then use a knitted on edging.


  7. Kylady – there are live stitches in this case since it is a circular shawl knitted in the round 😉


  8. Thanks, Glenna, for the explanation and the photo – that really helped it to ‘click’ I was having trouble visualizing this (even after reading EZ’s description in Knitting Workshop). Makes sense now.

    I just polished off a calamari sandwich from Lucas Wharf in Bodega Bay. A little windy but still beautiful over there.

  9. Bonita Pate Davis · ·

    Thanks Glenna. I should have specified that I was replying to Edith R about button bands. So sorry for any confusion.

  10. Hmm. .. are you doing anything by way of a selvedge at the outer edge? Can’t tell from the photo. Just curious.

  11. I have 2 pis and have been thinking about a third – I was thinking I might make it lacier, but then I think how much I love the two I have… like you, I might wind up with three the same. I find the garter stitch edging seems to go on forever, but hten suddleny is done. And it takes up much more yarn than I want it to, but as it does everything you describe, it is well worth it.

  12. Gorgeous color! Can’t wait to see the finished, blocked shawl 🙂

  13. […] at: My Pi Shawl is turning a corner into the “almost done” territory – the really for […]

  14. I had the same question about outer edge, like Elizabeth. Do you knit the first stitch or slip it?

  15. EZ really was a timeless creator, wasn’t she? Most everything has remained so classy looking—-the pi shawl is a true treasure. Yours is lovely!

  16. I can’t wait to see the finished shawl. I love the color!

  17. I’ve started a Pi shawl because I fell in love with the one that you started with the Malabrigo in eggplant. I followed EZ’s directions, but like yours so much more! How many rows between increase rounds did you do? Thank you for the knitted on bind off instructions. I had no idea what that was and/or how to do it.

  18. I love your shawl, and there’s a whole lot to love! Regarding the knitted on edging: I’ve only ever done a stockinette-based binding, and I worked the purl side without turning the work because it was faster. I’ve never done garter, but I think I’d have to teach myself how to work that without turning, too, because it would go much faster. I think. Looking forward to your FO pictures!

  19. […] ← Knitted-on edgings July 5, 2014 · 8:08 pm ↓ Jump to Comments […]

  20. Where do one cast on the new stitches? On the left needle, the right or on a helping needle? And the thread, which way goes that? Everything else is clear, thank you for lovely photos!, but this casting on… =)

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