Eyelet cast-on border.

Eyelet Cast-on Border

In Knitting in the Nordic Tradition, Vibeke Lind describes what she calls “lace casting on”. This is a length of the narrowest possible one-row lace edging, with loops along each edge. Stitches can be picked up and knit in the loops as a starting point for knitting, particularly lace. It might make a good center for a rectangular stole worked from the center to each end, or perhaps for a rectangle worked in the round from the center outward?

Here’s how it’s done:

lace casting on, from Knitting in the Nording Tradition, by Vibeke Lind

Cast on 2 stitches. Yarn over at the beginning of the needle, and work a left-leaning decrease: either (slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over) or (slip 1 knitwise, slip 1 knitwise, and knit together through the back loop).

Turn work and repeat as necessary. (Yes, it’s also a lot of extremely narrow rows.)

When it’s long enough, the last row worked should be to knit the 2 stitches together, and then pick up and knit through the loops of one edge. Lind doesn’t say how many stitches to pick up in each loop. I suppose the implication is that it’s one stitch per loop, but the size of the loops in this case led me to try a variation: (pick up and knit 1 stitch in a loop, yarn over); repeat as desired. Two other ways to get two stitches per loop: knit in the front and the back and (knit 1, purl 1) in the same stitch.

I just did a teeny bit of flat knitting here, with a minor variation. The knit rows start with yarn over, knit 2 together; the purl rows begin with yarn over, purl 2 together.

June Hemmons Hiatt calls this an eyelet cast-on border in her Principles of Knitting. She suggests working it with a smaller needle than usual, which seems appropriate if working one stitch per edge loop.

Montse Stanley has something very similar called faggot cord in her Knitter’s Handbook, except for two things: she doesn’t list it as a cast-on, but only as trim (it would make fine trim sewn onto a sewn wool jacket, for instance); and she works it as (yarn over, purl 2 together).

More experienced lace knitters might have noticed that this is the narrowest possible instance of faggoting, which is a technical term referring to lace that consists entirely of decreases and yarn overs on every row, with no other stitches. This sounds more difficult than it truly is – faggoting is actually one of the first kinds of lace I tried because it’s easy to memorize.

13 thoughts on “Eyelet Cast-on Border”

  1. Mary Thomas calls it the Picot Cast-on, in her Knitting Book.
    Someone needs to think of a way to use it like an icord bind off so two ends can match, I think it could go up the spine of a triangular shawl too, or a cresent, though getting the wings to match on a cresent could get fiddly.

    What a cool idea to use different pick up rates on it.

    1. Picot cast-on makes sense, except that there’s something else in use that’s commonly called that. Good to have the data point (and I should have checked Mary Thomas)!

      I’ve been thinking and thinking about the matching bind-off question. I’ve brainstormed two options. The first is grafting.

      The second wouldn’t match as well, but might at least coordinate: a minimalist knitted-on edging.

      Row 1: YO, knit 2 together. Row 2: knit 2 together.

      I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems worth a shot.

      As far as using it for a shawl spine – I’m not sure I see the merits of using it over just regular faggoting? Though it would allow for an interesting middle to a sideways triangular shawl. Hm. Something to ponder.

      I hope the different pick-up rates idea comes in handy for someone!


  2. Two more things:

    If you start the braid with a provisional cast on, you can graft the loop.

    I did once made enough braid to graft to a lace sweater neckline to finish the piece (and match the bottom) That was fiddly, but I loved the symetry. I’m not sure if the neckline tore because that’s where the moths attacked, or if it wasn’t elastic enough, but I still wear it in informal situations, and still get compliments. I guess it’s like an old pair of jeans with holes in the knees that fit well – it sill looks good, just not for formal occasions.

  3. Interestingly, something very like this is part of the design of a Norah Gaughan shawl in the latest interweave, Five Points Shawl. You knit eyelets on each edge of a triangle, and then pick up stitches from those eyelets for subsequent sections. A woman at knit night is on her second, one, and I’m stash diving to join her.

    1. Oh, interesting! I’ve actually been thinking that it would be nice to knit an edging with eyelets along one edge as an obvious place to pick up and knit. But that sounds like an even cleverer idea (no surprise, given Norah Gaughan).

  4. I finally borrowed the library system’s copy of Barbara Abbey’s Knitting Lace, she has an interesting “Fagotted Edge” for selvages where you make a YO before beginning to knit each row, then use those edge loops either to pick up stitches from the edge, or for joining motifs.

    1. Oh, interesting! I’ve tried the YO at the beginning of a selvedge for decorative purposes (sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t), but I hadn’t thought of using it for anything structural. Thanks!

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