Knitted Edgings: Making the world a more beautiful place

1920s sewing box as a unique way to keep spools of thread secure.

My Great Gramma Sheehan’s sewing box. This box is probably from the 20s; isn’t it fab? I love the pincushion on top and the unique way the spools of thread are secured onto the box. We use this sewing box to this day; quality products do last forever.

I’m a bit of a girly-girl—I love knickknacks, floral prints, and lace-trimmed pillowcases.

I have a few pillowcases that were trimmed with lace made by my Great Gramma Sheehan, as well as some hankies. I’m also lucky enough to have her crochet set and a wonderful thread holder (pictured at left).

I have just a couple of memories of my great-gramma, but she was my mom’s best friend; Gramma Sheehan spent hours with my mom almost every day, playing Canasta and Kings on the Corner, crocheting, pasting Green Stamps into booklets, and generally being a wonderful and loving gramma. My mom talked about her so much; when mom and dad were talking about names for my little sister who was about to be born, they mentioned naming her after Gramma Sheehan. I was surprised to learn her name was Patricia Elizabeth instead of “Gramma Sheehan”!

The family heirlooms left to us by Gramma Sheehan are so special to all of us, and especially to me since I’m carrying on the handwork tradition.

I started thinking about this the other day when I was making my bed, changing the linens and getting out the freshly-laundered, lace-trimmed pillowcases. I noticed a tiny hole in the lace trim, and it occurred to me that these items aren’t going to last forever, especially if I keep using them regularly. I need to think about carrying on the tradition in earnest by making some lace-trimmed pillowcases of my own!

Since my bed-making epiphany, I’ve been casually looking for a nice knitted edging pattern and finally found it in a place that I didn’t expect—in Interweave’s Compendium of Finishing Techniques (now available as an eBook!).

The Compendium has many, many edging ideas, but the one that caught my eye is the simple Pointed Lace Edging.

If you like antique craft kits, then you'll LOVE this crocheting, tatting and mending kit that Knitting Daily's Online Editor, Kathleen Cubley, shares.

Gramma Sheehan’s crocheting, tatting and mending kit. This kit snaps closed into a portable 3 X 6-inch silky green packet. It’s in wonderful shape, but I don’t use it. The tools are made out of Bakelite, I think, and I don’t want to take a chance on damaging anything. Check out the ivory thimble at the bottom of the photo!

Learn everything you need to know about the pointed lace edging in knitting.

Pointed Lace Edging the Simple Way

This edging is knitted horizontally, so cast on the entire length of your edge (see below for information on determining the number of cast-on stitches).

  1. Cast on as many stitches as you need in a multiple of 13 stitches; add 1 stitch after the last multiple of 13 (for example, 3 multiples of 13 is 39 stitches; cast on a total of 40 stitches).
    Row 1: Purl.
    Row 2: *Knit 1, yarn over, knit 4, knit 2 together twice, knit 4, yarn over. Repeat from * across the row, ending with a knit 1.
  2. Repeat these two rows to make the pattern and work to the depth required.
  3. Bind off all stitches loosely.
How many stitches should you cast on? Well, the answer is probably something you can predict: Knit a swatch! Try knitting two repeats in your swatch—you’ll need to cast on 27 stitches.

Say your swatch ends up being 2 inches wide and your pillowcase is 36 inches in circumference. Divide 36 by 2 and get 18. Eighteen is the number of times you’ll need to knit two pattern repeats. Multiply 18 by the number of st in your swatch minus 1 (26) and get 468+1. You’ll need to cast on 469 st to get a 36″ border. (This is just an easy example, you’ll need to knit your swatch with the yarn you want to use to determine your number of cast-on stitches.)

This edging can be knit with any yarn, but I’m going to use white crochet cotton and size 2 needles. I want the durability of cotton along with the delicate look of lace, and crochet cotton will give me that. Crochet cotton can be slippery to work with, so I like to use bamboo or specially coated lace needles.

If you want to add some charming lace edging to your plain-Jane pillowcases, download a copy of Interweave’s Compendium of Finishing Techniques and start beautifying your world today! You’ll not only get more edging ideas, but you’ll learn hundreds of finishing techniques for knitting, crocheting, weaving, and knotting. The Compendium is a wonderful resource.


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