So here we are ready to start the edging, and if you’ve never worked an edging around a shawl, you’re wondering where to start. And how to cast-on for the edging, anyway?
My approach assumes some experience in grafting in garter stitch. You should also be willing to flip the work over to see what’s happening on the other side, and to be willing to do a bit of poking and prodding with your darning needle to see what’s really happening in the fabric. All valuable learning. Learn how to do grafting like this in lace patterning, and you will never fear grafting again.
But first, here’s the general battle plan. With a waste yarn, cast-on and work a repeat of the edging, except for the last row. With a second waste yarn – I usually use a smooth cotton in a contracting colour—work that last row, joining the last stitch to one from the border, if required by the pattern. (In the case of the Rosebud, it is.) Then join in the shawl yarn and work the edging around, until you’ve run out of shawl stitches, ending that very last repeat without working the final row. Then you graft the end of the edging – that’s the stitches hanging off the needle -- to the first row you worked with the shawl yarn. Remember the row you worked with the cotton yarn? That’s the row you will duplicate by the grafting.
But first, where do you start attaching? Well, I like to be anywhere except where I ended working the borders (that’ll be the last stitch of the 4th border), so I rearrange stitches so I’ll be starting somewhere around the end of the second border.* Where exactly? Okay, let’s figure that out.
We know from this post, that it’ll take 6 stitches at the end of the border to work part of the corner. We know that the single repeat in waste yarn is joined to the edging on its last row, so we need 1 stitch for that. I prefer to work a couple of repeats of the edging before the corner, and each repeat needs 7 stitches. In the example you’ll see here, it was 3 repeats. So I counted back 28 stitches from the end of the border (6 + (3 x 7) + 1 = 28). In my case, I decided to start at the end of the second border, so the stitches from the first border and all the stitches except for the last 28 from the second went onto a spare needle, just to get them out of the way. I worked the edging using the same needle as I used for the shawl. If I’d had all the shawl stitch still on that needle, the first few repeats of the edging would have been miserable to work.
So, with your first waste yarn, cast on and work the first 11 rows of the 12 row edging. Change to your second waste yarn (dark green, in this photo), and work row 12, attaching its last stitch to the 28th border stitch using SSK.
Just keep working the edging until you have 1 last repeat of the edging to do. Work the first 11 rows of that repeat. You’ll have something that looks like this.
Prepare to graft in the 12th row. Cut your shawl yarn leaving an end of at least 4 times the width of the edging. A length of 6 times will make it easier to work, but you may feel that’s wasteful when you get the process finished. Clean your glasses; turn on some lights so you can really see what you’re going to be doing. Get rid of distractions: you must be able to concentrate. Thread the end into your darning needle. Yes, you are starting at the outside edge and working in.
Now your task is to follow the path taken by the second waste yarn (the green yarn, here), as it joins the repeat in first waste yarn to the edging in the shawl yarn, except that you’re grafting the stitches on the needle up into the edging. I assure you, this is quite do-able. Stay alert. Don’t be afraid to flip the work over to see what things look like from the back side. Don’t hesitate to poke at things with the tip of your darning needle to see where things are actually going. Remember that your grafting yarn has to go through each stitch – whether above or below – twice. Snug up your grafting yarn every couple of stitches: if it’s loose, it’ll be hard for you to see accurately. Reduce distractions and do what you have to do so you can really see what you’re doing. Here’s mine, at about midpoint.
Pay particular attention to replicating the final SSk join accurately. It’s really worth it to get that one exactly right.
Once you’ve finished, go back through and snug up the grafting yarn again, and check that it passes through each stitch – above and below – twice. Check it from the back, as well.
Now, working from the back, take out the second contrast yarn. Take it stitch by stitch. I actually take it out half-stitch by half-stitch. Don’t hesitate to cut this yarn, so you’re not pulling the entire length through the work. Sometimes during the grafting I accidentally thread the darning needle through that waste yarn, so it won’t pull out through the work; cutting the waste yarn close at that point is the only way to proceed.) Here’s a picture of the waste yarn half removed.
Go back over the grafting yarn to snug it up one more time: don’t worry about slight imperfections as things will even out in the dressing. You’ll end up with this.
Now do something to calm your nerves. Laying down with a cool cloth on your forehead is a good idea.
If you are confident in your grafting skills, you should have no problem with this process. However, anyone would benefit from working a practice piece in thicker yarn, maybe sport weight. Use several colours. Cast on in the first colour and work the first 11 rows. Work the 12th row in a second colour. (Don’t bother attaching any of this to anything. That’s not necessary.) Work a couple of repeats in a third colour, and cast off. Then cast on with the third colour, and work a repeat or 2, ending with the 11th row. Then do the grafting work, as above. Working with larger yarn, you should be able to see more clearly what you are going to be doing – how that second waste yarn travels its path. Do this practice exercise a couple of times, if you need to: getting your confidence about this will reward the time you put into doing the practice runs, and the end result is really worth it. You could also have one of these practice pieces beside you when you do the grafting on the shawl. Work a pass of the darning needle on the practice piece, and then do it on the shawl.
Once this grafting process is completed, the shawl is finished, and ready to be blocked out. I use blocking wires, on the floor. (If your knees are as bad as mine, kneepads are useful.**) Unless I wash a shawl, I block it dry, and then spray it down heavily with a plant mister. When the shawl is bone dry I take it up and finish off the ends. Pictures of the finished shawl in the next post.
* I do this because it reduces the number of ends to be finished off in one general area. (This grafting gig results in 2 ends to be finished off, and then there’d be the one from ending the border.) Darning in 3 ends in one location will change the visual texture of the fabric. I prefer that doesn’t happen.
* * I find it really curious that no-one markets a frame for dressing shawls. At least, I don’t know of one. If anyone knows of their availability, please let me know. I mean, you can get wooley boards and sock blockers, why not shawl frames?