Lace Knitting: Borders
Lace borders might seem really old-fashioned, but to me they're absolutely beautiful and a wonderful use of a knitter's time and effort.
The drawing at right, Vandyke Border, was taken from Weldon's Practical Knitter, How to Knit Useful Articles for Ladies, Gentlemen & Children. In an effort to bring needlework to the emerging middle class, Weldon's, a British paper pattern company of the Victorian era, began to publish monthly newsletters devoted to various crafts (beading, knitting, crochet, patchwork, and the like). These newsletters were typically 14 pages and cost 2 pence. Later, they were collected into book form, titled Weldon's Practical Needlework.
Weldon's is full of seemingly old-fashioned knitting patterns, but in reality, it's an invaluable resource for historical patterns that can be knit and worn today just as well as they could in the
My great-gramma used to practice tatting, making yards and yards of fabulous lace borders. She sewed them onto hankies, pillowcases, slips, petticoats, and anything else she wanted to pretty up a bit. The beautiful Vandyke Border reminds me of those lovely lace borders. The pattern is below, but there are a few things to note before you start knitting.
1. Weldon's Practical Knitter expected you to know some stuff about knitting! There are no measurements, gauge requirements, yarn suggestions, or needle sizes noted. The pattern does mention "cotton" in the third sentence, though, and since this is a lace pattern, perhaps crochet cotton or laceweight cotton or linen would work. My great-gramma's borders were all knit with cotton, so it seems a good bet. Whatever yarn you choose, start with needles a little bigger than the yarn calls for, as you usually do when knitting a lace pattern, and then swatch to see how it looks.
2. Like the border is cast on on the left edge and knitted sideways, which is pretty common for borders, and in my opinion, it's a better way to do this because you don't have to cast on a bazillion stitches. Those Victorians were pretty smart.
3. I love the chain-stitch edge described at the beginning of the pattern. Basically you slip 1 with yarn in front at the beginning of every odd row. I know that this does make a nice border because I use used it in a scarf I just finished.
4. All of the even rows are supposed to be knit "plain." Hmm. Looking at the illustration, "plain" looks to be garter stitch. You can see the garter ridges at the top of the illustration. Pretty!
Here's the pattern, exactly as written in Weldon's Practical Knitter:
Cast on 15 stitches. Knit 1 plain row. When directed to slip a stitch insert the needle with the cotton to the front as if about to purl, and pass the cotton to the back before knitting the second stitch; this produces a nice chain-like edge along the top of the border. 1st pattern row—Slip 1, knit 4, make 1 and knit 2 together four times, make 1, knit 2. 2nd row—Plain. 3rd row—Slip 1, knit 5, make 1 and knit 2 together four times, make 1, knit 2. 4th row—Plain. 5th row—Slip 1, knit 6, make one and knit 2 together four times, make 1, knit 2. 6th row—Plain. 7th row—Slip 1, knit 7, make 1 and knit 2 together four times, make 1, knit 2. 8th row—Plain. 9th row—slip 1, knit 5, knit 2 together, make 1 and knit 2 together five times, knit 1.10th row—Plain. 11th row—slip 1, knit 4, knit 2 together, make 1 and knit 2 together five time, knit 1. 12th row—Plain. 13th row—Slip 1, knit 3, knit 2 together, make 1 and knit 2 together five times, knit 1. 14th row—Plain. 15th row—Slip 1, knit2, knit 2 together, make 1 and knit 2 together five times, knit 1. 16th row—Plain. Repeat from the first row for the length required.
If I were you, I'd copy and paste the pattern into a Word doc or something and put spaces between each row! Much easier to read, yes?
Here's the link to a chart that vintage knitting expert Laurie Sundstrom worked up for you; it's really helpful!
I love the idea of making lace-trimmed hankies or pillowcases and giving them as gifts. If you want to give knitted gifts, these are lovely little items that will be saved for years, just like we've saved Great-Gramma Sheehan's treasures.
Have fun, and check out the rest of the patterns in the new eBook Weldon's Practical Knitter, Series 10!