Many edgings start by working evenly across or around the edge of your project. To make this edge nice and even, you need to work the right number of stitches, and space them evenly. If your stitches are too close together, you’ll end up with a ruffled effect. If they are too far apart, it will pucker. When using a pattern, it should tell you how many stitches to work. It may even give you an idea of how to space them. If you’re doing your own thing though, or if you’ve made any adjustments to the pattern, you may need to calculate this for yourself.
Calculating the number of stitches
For squares, this is easy, because all the sides are the same length.The number of stitches you have across the last row should be the same number of stitches along each edge. For other shapes, you can calculate the number of stitches using your stitch gauge. Multiply the length of the edge by the number of stitches per inch in your gauge swatch. If you didn’t swatch, you may be able to measure your gauge from a section of your finished project. For example, if my piece has a 5 inch long edge, and my gauge is 4 stitches per inch, I would work 20 stitches along this edge.
You will need to add a couple of extra stitches in the corners to keep their shape. Using a chain space between the corner stitches will give you a sharper corner, and just using more stitches will give you a rounder corner. As a general rule of thumb, I tend to work 3 stitches in the corner if it’s single crochet, and 5 if it’s double crochet. If it’s half double, I might do 3, 4, or 5, depending on the particular yarn and project.
Spacing the stitches evenly
Now that we know how many stitches to work, we need to space them evenly. For a small number of stitches, you can probably eyeball it pretty well. But what if you’re working 400 stitches across the edge of a shawl? It’s awful to come to the end of that edge and have to start over because you’ve only worked 395 stitches. Long edges like this can easily be broken up into smaller sections, using stitch markers.
If we need to work (for example) 200 stitches over 50 inches, that’s about 20 stitches every 5 inches. Using stitch markers, we can mark off 5 inch sections. Now we can just manage 20 stitches at a time. The piece in the picture below already has an edging on it, but shows how the stitch markers could be used to divide it up into shorter sections.
More complex edges
So what if it’s not a straight edge? What if it’s a curved neckline, or armhole? Those are harder to measure accurately with a tape measure, but there’s a little trick. Find a piece of scrap yarn or string, preferably something not too stretchy. Crochet thread works well for this. Now lay your work flat, run the string along the entire edge, and cut it at the end. You now have a piece of string the same length as your edge, so you can just measure that string.
There are a few other adjustments you may need to make. As we discussed earlier, add a few extra stitches when turning a corner. Similarly, if you have a sharp, V-shaped, inside corner (like the bottom of a V neck), work a decrease or skip a stitch at the center of the V, to help keep the shape.
Finally, be sure to consider how many stitches you will need for the rest of the edging. For example, if your calculations tell you to work 200 stitches, but the next row requires a multiple of 3 stitches, then work 201 stitches instead. No matter how simple or complicated your edging is going to be, a nice even foundation can make a big difference. Taking a little extra care at this step may save you from having to rip out a lot of work later!