Thursday, April 17, 2008

Edging Along

I've always had a special fondness for lace edgings. I don't know why exactly.

Maybe I like them so much because the first lace I ever knit was an edging from a pattern I found on a page torn out of an old Workbasket magazine. As I was working on it (and I was a fairly new knitter in those days) I thought it was just about the prettiest thing I had ever seen. Wish I knew where that page went to. It would be fun to take a look at the pattern again.

Maybe I'm fond of them because I learned how to "read" lace, and deal with double yarn overs, and patterning on both right and wrong sides (and got over being intimidated by small needle sizes) while working on other edging patterns that I was able to scrounge up here and there. In those days we lived miles and miles from a yarn store, I hardly knew anyone who knit and if the Internet existed I sure didn't know about it. Thank goodness for books and magazines. Threads showed me how a wide edging with just a bit of a curve could be a collar. Mary Thomas showed me how one could be the launching point for an entire Shetland shawl (though this was knowledge I enjoyed in theory, rather than actual practice.)

Maybe it's because an edging by itself is very portable. Get one that's not too wide with a relatively short row repeat and you can have it memorized quickly, can pick it up and work a few repeats and feel like you've accomplished something. It doesn't take long to work several inches, enough to see that you are getting somewhere. And if you do make a mistake, it's much faster to pick back than, say 300 odd stitches on the far side of a shawl.

Maybe I just like the idea of towels and pillowcases trimmed with lace. (I say "idea of" because I'm the last person on earth who would actually iron those items after washing to keep the lace in proper shape). A few years back, I did trim a some terry cloth hand towels, couching down the lace with sewing thread to hold it's shape. The technique worked only moderately well. But I must say, after many trips through the washer and dryer, the terry cloth wore out before the trim did. This is the last of them.

All this is really just a roundabout way of getting to saying how very grateful I am to Sarah Bradberry for the work she has done re-writing, charting and knitting samples of an extensive collection of old edging patterns. These have been available for some time on her website: Now, bless her, she getting them all entered on Ravelry, where it's even easier to browse through the lot. Knitting benisons on her head!


kmkat said...

I love your towel! Several of those, maybe with some special soaps, would be a great gift.

TracyKM said...

I have the same sentiments towards lace edgings! I had done some lace before, but the first edging I did--I think it was for the bottom of a christening gown--had me hooked. I used that same edging on many projects after--every girl's blankie in the family, summer dresses for the girls, etc. Done in baby yarn and worsted weight cotton it is always pretty and perfect for just about any outfit! It really makes a simple dress shine and is not nearly as hard as everyone thinks it must be :)