On Designing a Lace Triangle IV: Edgings

This post is part of the Fall Shawl Together organized by Cate of Infinite Twist. You can find other posts in this series at the Fall Shawl Together page.

This is part four of an ongoing tutorial on designing lace triangles.  In Part I, I talked about how to insert lace columns. In Part II, I talked about creating an original all-over lace pattern. In Part III, I went back to the beginning and talked about how to cast on for a lace triangle.

In this post, I’m going to be talking about edgings. Edgings are a bit more challenging than our starting point, but they follow the same logic. There are two usual ways to knit an edging: continue working top-down, as established, or work a sideways knit edging. There are good reasons to use either of these methods, and we’ll talk about both of them. This post is rather long, so you are forewarned!

This is a Chart Key to help decipher the charts pictured below. (You can click through to view larger versions of these the chart illustrations, if you so desire.)

Working your edging top-down continues your body pattern and offers a chance to make an edging that flows out from your columns or all over lace. Although you can absolutely create an edging that does not line up with your previous repeats, and it can look great (the Swallowtail Shawl is a great example of this), I tend to prefer creating edgings that flow naturally from the shawl body repeats. It feels unified and clever, and creates a tidy, finished appearance.

To create a top-down shawl edging that flows from your lace body, you must line up the center stitch of your body repeat with the center stitch of your edging. The rules are the same as before: you increase four times on every right side row, once at each edge, and once on either side of the center stitch. Every increase must have a matching decrease. At the edges of your mirrored panels (two, on either side of your center stitch), you will need to remember to break up double decreases into single decreases if there isn’t room for a matching increase.

This all sounds pretty complicated, I know, so let’s look at it in action.

We’ll start with the lace columns, as that is a bit simpler. This is the lace column repeat we set up in Part I.

Although you can continue the columns to the end of the shawl and bind off, a transition to an all-over lace pattern can look great here. To create it, you’ll need to start a new chart. I find this easiest to do just above the existing chart, so you can have a visual read on how it is lining up. The easiest way to start a new chart is to continue the previous chart. Your shawl blank should be one stitch wider on either side than the last two rows of your shawl body repeat. You can reduce the chart size later, if possible, or make it larger, if necessary.

Now we start building out from the center stitch of our repeat (not the center stitch of the entire shawl). I decided to make my new repeats wider, which is usually what you’ll need to do with columns if you are transitioning to an all-over stitch pattern. This is fine, as long as my new repeats build on the old ones. I still want my new edging to line up with my old columns, so my new edging could incorporate three columns, or five columns, as long as it still lines up. Similarly, I could go down in width, or keep my repeats the same width.

My new repeat incorporates three columns, but still lines up with the body of the shawl. You can see this better when I stack the charts on top of one another (edging is on top of the body repeat).

I’ve added simple increase/decrease pairings, much like the ones I used on the all-over lace pattern, and maintained some of the double-decreases with matched increases that I used in the shawl body. Although the new repeat is wider, it doesn’t completely abandon the columns of lace that we’ve been using up to this point. As written, I’d need two more rows on the edging to make it repeatable, so it would be worked once and then bound off and blocked as desired.

An example of a lace triangle with columns that flow into an all-over edging is my Clothilde pattern.

Let’s take a look at how we’d do the same thing with an all-over lace pattern. This is the all-over lace repeat we established in Part II.

We could continue this pattern to the edge and bind off, and it would look absolutely fine. However, if you wish to get an edging with points or to vary the look, a change in the pattern at the edging is desirable. If you wish to achieve points, you’ll want to separate your increases and decreases, increasing in columns and decreasing in columns. This is a very common and beautiful way to end a knit shawl with an all-over lace pattern.

If, however, you want to end with an all-over pattern, you would create that the same way you created an all-over edging for the knit columns. Maintain the center stitch of the repeat, and work the same size, or incorporating more than one motif of the existing pattern. Here’s an example I made that is the same width as the repeats from the shawl body.

And we’ll again see what this looks like lined up with the shawl body. The edging is on top.

The edging slightly varies the body pattern to create a new pattern that will give the edging a different appearance that is still harmonious with the shawl body. An example of a lace triangle with a top-down edging is my Arabella shawl.

With either of these two triangles we also have the option of a sideways knitted edging. A sideways edging is fun to knit and precludes the need for a long bind-off row. Furthermore, a sideways edging may be any width, and any stitch pattern. For the sake of this example, I will continue to use my primary simple repeat of a double-decrease with a yarn-over increase on either side.

A sideways knitted edging has an active side, where it attaches to the body, and an inactive side where the first stitch is slipped. For this reason, the number of rows in a sideways knitted edging will be twice the number of active body stitches. In other words, if you have 200 stitches on the body before you attach your edging, you will have 400 rows in your edging. If your edging repeat is four rows in length, each repeat will have two right-side rows that attach to your body, and two inactive wrong-side rows.

If you intend to use the same yarn for the edging as the body, cast on the number of stitches you intend to use for the edging panel, plus one more, which will be the stitch you use to attach the edging to the body. Work across the edging stitches until you reach the final stitch, and then knit the last edging stitch together with the first live stitch from the body. That stitch is effectively bound off. Turn, slip the stitch you just knit, and work across the wrong side of your edging repeat as desired.

Here is an easy two-row sideways edging that will work on both of my example shawls, and indeed, any knitted item. Because it is only two rows, it has only one active right side row, and will attach to any number of stitches without ending mid motif.

An example of a shawl with a sideways knitted edging is my Fine Hewn pattern. It is not a triangle shawl, but the principle is the same.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful! I realize that this is a complicated topic, and I’m happy to answer questions if you have them.


  1. Thank you!! You made things understandable! I had a hard time with pointy borders but I think it would not be a problem anymore 😀

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