March 18, 2011
A knitted hem is an awesome way to finish or start off your knitting when you are looking for a tailored and clean look. Knitted hems are also the perfect solution to preventing the Stockingette curl. You may also use this technique to place pin tucks anywhere in a project by a small modification.This technique played a big role in the Lollipop Skirt by Bekah Knits. Let's get started.
To add a knitted hem to the beginning of a project, you want to decide how long you want your hem. You can determine this with swatching. However many rows long your finished hem will be, you will knit double. I am going to demonstrate with a 6 row hem. First I cast on according to my pattern and knit 5 rows in Stockingette. Next, on the right side of my work, I purl one row (I will explain this in a bit), then I knit 5 more rows in Stockingette. One the next row (which I will be knitting), I will pick up one stitch from the cast on edge and knit it together with a stitch from my left needle.
You can see that it starts to form a welt, i.e. knitted hem. The purl row in the middle creates a dent on the wrong side enabling the fabric to fold there and give a clean finish. Otherwise, you would be creating more of a tube instead of a nice, folded hem finish. After this row, you can continue knitting according to your pattern.
Now, if you want to add a knitting hem to your project at the end and cast off at the same time, I recommend you add a lifeline where the top of the hem will start. This makes it easy to pick up your stitches in a straight line. You might notice that you cannot see the life line from the back of the work as easily as you can see it from the front but once you start picking up, you will see it just fine. Again, working with a 6 row hem, you will knit 5 rows from the life line in Stockingette. The next row, on the right side, purl one row and then knit 5 more rows in Stockingette.
On the next right side row, beginning picking up the first purl bump on the hem side of the life line and knit it together with the first stitch from your left needle, continue across the row this way. But once you have 2 stitches on your right needle, begin casting off. Once you have cast off all your stitches, weave in your ends and pull out your life line.
If you want to add a welt, or pin tuck into your work, follow the directions above for adding a hem at the end of your work but do not cast off. Continue knitting up, spacing your welts out as you go so they do not add too much bulk. I spaced mine by knitting 7 rows from the top of the first welt to the purl row of the next welt. This creates a cascade of welts.
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