Hemmed Edges

Right now, these fingerless mitts in Malabrigo lace are on my needles. I used a purl turning row hem!

My Copy Cat Beanie (in Malabrigo Worsted) has a basic hem – no turn row! Thus, it looks a little more rounded on the edge.

My Caroline Cloche (in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool) uses a purl turning row, just like my fingerless mitts above. So it has a sleek, crisp looking edge.

And I added a sewn hem to my Norrland hat (in Berroco Folio) when I realized the ribbing was a bit too long at the very end!

Let me sing praises to one of my favorite finishing techniques: hemmed edges. Our sewing projects get hem treatments, so why not our knits? Hemmed edges lend a polished look to your hand-knits, the concept is simple, and the benefits are numerous:

  • You can knit stockinette stitch right to the edge without any curling.
  • It forms a placket into which you could insert elastic or a drawstring.
  • It’s always nice and stretchy.
  • Your edges are reinforced against wear and tear with a double-thick fabric.
  • Your edges are warmer – a hemmed edge on a hat will keep the cold wind off your ears.
  • There is no wrong side near the edge.
  • You could add a secret accent color on the inside.
  • It just looks nice!

There are a few styles of hemmed edge. Any of them can be worked in the round or flat:

  1. Basic Hem: Cast on, knit twice as long as you want your hem (in stockinette, ribbing, seed or whatever stitch you like), then knit every live stitch together with the cast-on stitch directly below it.
  2. Turning Purl Row: Cast on, knit as long as you want your hem, work a single purl row, knit the same length again, and knit your live stitches together with your cast on stitches. You’ll find that the purl row will cause the fabric to turn neatly and flatly all on its own.
  3. Turning Eyelet Row / Picot Hem: Cast on, knit as long as you want your hem, work a row of (yo, k2tog) all the way around, knit the same length again, and knit your live stitches together with your cast on stitches. Like the turning purl row, the row of eyelets will also turn all on its own, and when folded in half it will appear as a dainty picot edge.
  4. Provisional Version: Use a provisional cast on instead of a regular cast on with the above styles, transfer the provisional stitches onto a needle and knit the live stitches together with the corresponding provisional cast on stitches. This might be easier if you have trouble finding the cast-on stitch directly below the next live stitch.
  5. Sew At The End Version: Turn your edge over and sew it down at the end of your project. You can do this with a basic hem or a turning row hem – whatever suits your fancy!

A few super-cool and popular projects with hemmed edges from the Ravelryverse:

Written by Lauren Chesis

Lauren Chesis

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