Step-by-step instructions and symbol charts put these 139 creative new border designs within reach for beginning and advanced crocheters alike. If you’re ready to chart your own crocheted course, Edie Eckman offers plenty of helpful design advice, including how to choose an appropriate border for each project and how to incorporate an element from the main stitch pattern into a new border design. She then explains, with the help of close-up photos, how the same pattern can have dramatically different results depending on the weight of the yarn. With each pattern diagrammed to approach in both rounds and rows, Every Which Way Crochet Borders is an inventive and invaluable resource.
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About the Author
Edie Eckman is the author of Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs, Around the Corner Crochet Borders, Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs, The Crochet Answer Book, and Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree, as well as co-editor of Crochet One-Skein Wonders® and Crochet One-Skein Wonders® for Babies. She is a nationally known teacher, designer, writer, and editor in both the crochet and knitting worlds. She lives in Waynesboro, Virginia.
Read an Excerpt
Choosing a border design may seem overwhelming. After all, there are so many to choose from! Your choice will be determined by the project, your personal taste, and the taste of the person who will be using it. You may just go with your instincts when choosing a border, but if you want a more structured approach, you might keep in mind some of the following principles.
Choices: Form Follows Function
Simple, narrow borders may serve mostly functional tasks: hiding yarn ends, stabilizing edges, and serving as button and buttonhole bands. They may be the best choice to frame a throw or shawl or other item that is particularly busy, multicolored, or highly textured. In other words, for these projects, let the main fabric be the main act and the border be the supporting cast.
More decorative borders, on the other hand, may be the focal point of a design, or at least may serve to enhance and complement the main fabric. As a matter of fact, some borders are so versatile that they can be used for more than just borders! That fringy, dangly border that might not be the best choice for a much-used child's blankie might be perfect made into a necklace.
COMPLEMENT VS. CONTRAST
Consider choosing a border that picks up some aspect of the main fabric.
This border consists of granny squares and would look terrific on an afghan composed of granny stripes.
This example uses the same stitch pattern as the main fabric, but with reversed colors.
A very plain fabric may be enhanced by a fancy border, as demonstrated by this fan-based design on a shell-stitch fabric.
A crazy, multicolored fabric might need the settling influence of a solid-colored border.
A Matter of Scale
Pay attention to the scale of your border as it relates to whatever you are attaching it to. Avoid overwhelming a tiny project with a too-wide border, as seen in the photo below. (Unless, of course, that's the look you are going for!)
The Potential in Color
Colors play a very important part in design; a simple change of color can completely change the look of a border, as you can see in the examples below. A solid color used throughout can highlight the shape of the overall design, while a multicolor yarn may confuse and muddy that same shape. Using different solid colors in separate rounds can highlight individual stitches or groups of stitches. The order of the colors can matter; two colors may seem to go well in theory, but have unexpectedly unhappy results when placed next to each other. The color of the final round sets the tone of the entire border. You may need to play with color placement to ensure that the final round stands up to its role as both design anchor and focal point. And of course, we all have color preferences. Don't dismiss a border in the book based on color alone. You might love it in a different color!
WHAT A DIFFERENCE COLORS CAN MAKE
Border #8 in the original solid (A), and in an entirely different solid color (B), worked in a multicolor (C), and worked with three different colors, on different rows (D)
COLORS CALL ATTENTION TO STRUCTURE
Working in two colors highlights the construction of the border on the top (A), whereas working in one color simplifies the appearance and highlights the shape of the border on the bottom (B).
Color choices make the border on the top (C) appear to have three elements, while the one on the bottom (D) seems to have only two.
It's All About the Yarn
Beyond color choice — or perhaps before it — is yarn choice. Different fibers and yarn weights will make the same border look very different. When working on crocheted, knit, or woven fabrics, you will usually be using the same yarn that was used in the main fabric. This ensures that the weight and scale of the yarn works with the design. However, when this is not the case — either because the border is going on a non-yarn background or you are simply changing the yarn — you'll want to consider the scale of the border yarn and stitches and how they relate to the thing the border is attached to.
CROCHETED BORDERS on Fine Fabric, Terry Cloth, and Knitwear
Two delicate antique batiste handkerchiefs with thread crochet trim; note that the border is crocheted directly onto the fabric (A); DK-weight linen border on a purchased terry cloth washcloth (B); DK-weight knitted shawl with a crocheted border in contrasting-color yarn (C).
Customizing Your Borders
You have many options when it comes to customizing your border. Many borders have certain simple components in common. Examples of these elements can be found starting here. These elements may be an integral part of the design, or they may serve as a way to extend or deepen the border. They can be used on their own to subtly finish an edge. Often they may be combined with each other and with other elements to come up with new border combinations. Once you start thinking about individual components of a border, you'll see that it's fun to adapt or design your own. Here are some ways to get started.
Add Preliminary Rounds
Make a border wider or more complex by adding preliminary rounds of one simple border before working the final fancier rounds. Just remember that when you add preliminary rounds, you will be adding stitches at each corner and thus increasing the number of stitches on each side, so when it's time to start the final border, you may need to make adjustments to fit the stitch multiple needed. Furthermore, the added element may begin with a different multiple than that needed for the original border.
Add New Elements
Consider adding additional elements, such as reverse single crochet or picots. Here are examples of both.
REVERSE SINGLE CROCHET
Border #14 is the same as Border #13, but on Border #14 (B, below), Round 2 was worked into the back loops only, leaving free loops available to work a round of reverse single crochet. (For an illustration of reverse single crochet, see here.)
CASE STUDY: Widening a Border
To make Border #60 wider, use Element G. Adding this element onto the base round adds 2 stitches to each side of the base round, but I need to end up with the called-for base round after adding the additional element. Here's how to think through the problem for the examples shown at right:
Original base round multiple on each side:
Multiple of 4 + 3 + corners Element G adds 2 stitches to each side, therefore:
Multiple of 4 + (3 + 2) + corners = Multiple of 4 + 5 + corners
(Note that this is the same as: Multiple of 4 + 1 + corners)
This tells me that the number of stitches after adding the Element round is a multiple of 4 + 1 + corners. If this multiple worked for my chosen border (#60), then I can just work that border as written directly onto my Element round.
Unfortunately, what I need is a multiple of 4 + 3 + corners, or 2 more stitches per side than I end up with after working the Element round. I have two choices:
* Fudge stitches (see Fudging Stitch Counts) as I work Round 1 of Border #60 onto the Element round, or
* Add 2 stitches per side by working another round of single crochet or another Element G (that is, another Element round) between the first Element and Round 1 of the border.
The oh-so-straight Border #5 changes its shape with the addition of picots. Picots are often used to add tiny points to borders or to soften the line of a straight border. However, the appearance of the picot can change subtly, depending on the method used to create it. The generic instruction for picot is usually "ch 3, slip st in third chain from hook," but there are other ways of creating picots. If you aren't happy with the appearance of the picot created in that way, substitute one of these refinements, which are used throughout the book.
Variations A and B can be used in any circumstance a picot is called for, whether surrounded by chains, stitches, or a combination of both. Variations C and D can be used when there is a stitch immediately preceding the picot.
When surrounded by chains, it would seem reasonable to place the picot in the center of a chain-space, as in "(chain 3, picot, chain 3)," but in reality this often visually sets the picot off-center (F, below). Instead, the instructions in this book often rely on a more visually appealing placement of the picot, as in "(ch 2, picot, ch 3)" (E, below).
Take elements from one or more borders and combine them. Since you'll have to engineer your way around the corners, you may find it helpful to see how the corner is handled on each round of your combined border and duplicate that as closely as possible. You may find it helpful to sketch the corners in advance on paper, using crochet symbols, a pencil, and an eraser. (You'll mostly likely need that eraser!)
Add a layer of dimension by working back loop stitches on one or more rounds, then use the free loops in front to add another round of stitches to match or complement the other stitches in the border or use other post stitches or "working in the back bump" of stitches to add texture. For example, to make Border #13 more dimensional, I worked Round 2 in back loop single crochet, then added a Round 4 to match Round 3.Border #21) uses "back bump" single crochet to pop the tops of stitches to the front. (For an illustration of back bump, see Glossary.)
FABDQS: (Frequently Asked Border Design Questions)
Years of teaching crochet and hanging out with crocheters have helped me develop responses to the questions I hear most often. This FAQ goes something like this:
QCan I use a different yarn from the yarn used in the main project?
A Try it and see! If you don't like the results, rip it out and pick a different yarn.
QI want to use my own colors for this design. Which colors should I use?
A It's your project. Try several colors and see which you like. If you don't like the results, try a different combination.
QCan I put a fancy border on my ripple-stitch afghan?
A It's going to be tricky. The straight side edges aren't a problem, but the peaks and valleys of the rippled edges mean you'll have to do a good bit of experimentation to get any kind of fancy border to lie flat. Give it a try, but if it doesn't work out, you can always just stick to a simple edging and let the beautiful main fabric shine.
QWhat would happen if I ...
A Interesting idea! Try it and see. If you don't like the results, rip it out and try something else.
Are you getting the idea? You shouldn't be afraid to experiment with crochet. It's so easy to rip out a few (or many) stitches if you aren't happy with what's happening. Why are you crocheting, anyway? Isn't it partly to make something beautiful that is uniquely yours? You are the boss of your crochet, so act like it and tell it what to do. But, like a good boss, be willing to listen to what it's trying to tell you, and be willing to learn from it.
The Power of Swatching
Customizing your borders is where swatching comes in. "Swatch" is often an unwelcome concept, but many of the most skilled, talented, and creative designers and crocheters I know are committed serial swatchers. This is because a swatch serves so many useful purposes.
What is a swatch? It's a small piece of sample fabric made in the same yarn and with the same hook that you plan to use in your finished piece. It can reveal a lot besides your gauge. You can practice different stitches and color arrangements — as well as try out different borders to see which combinations are going to work best with your project — without the time and effort involved in doing a full-size sample.
It's best not to rip out your swatch, but to hang onto it at least until the project is finished. If you run short of yarn, you can always use the yarn from the swatch, but in the meantime, the swatch serves as a reference and reminder of what you are working on.
Border swatches can be worked on the swatch that you used for your main project. If you didn't swatch for the main project, or if the project is too small to need a swatch, you can always just put your border swatch around the corner or along the edge of the main project. You'll have to rip this one out before you work the final edging, of course, so be sure to take notes on what you decide to do. Once it's ripped out, you won't be able to refer to it again.
Crocheted Border Mechanics
The design of a border is important, but the execution of that border is equally important. Make sure that beautiful border is beautifully executed by understanding some of these best practices.
Working a Base Round/Row
Although it's tempting to start crocheting your fancy border directly onto the main fabric, it's a good idea to set a foundation by working a base round or row first. This base round will stabilize the edge and create a smooth surface on which to set your decorative stitches. It also sets up the stitch multiple for the first row of the border design and establishes corner stitches.
If possible, this base round should be worked in the same yarn or a similar yarn as the one used in the main fabric. If you can't use the same yarn, try to match the size and heft of the yarn to that of the main fabric. And if it's not being stitched directly onto a fabric, but is being attached by some other means, attempt to match the feel, drape, and scale of the border to the main project. The base round should serve as a happy transition between the main project and the border.
A round of single crochet usually works well as a base. Take care to work the base-round stitches evenly, in the same color as the main fabric whenever possible. The base round is usually worked with the right side of the fabric facing, but occasionally you may have trouble with your border tending to flip toward the front. If this happens, work the base round with the wrong side facing, then turn and work the border rounds with the right side facing.
The instructions in this book give a stitch count for the base round, assuming the base round is the round immediately preceding the border design. The instructions don't indicate where to start the base round or how to work it; refer to the general directions that follow (Placing Stitches in the Base Round). The base round can be seen in the photographed samples and is indicated by the light gray single crochet stitch symbols in each diagram.
CHOOSING COLOR FOR BASE ROUNDS
If you work a base round in a color that contrasts with the main piece, irregularities and skipped stitches may become obvious, especially when worked along a selvedge (see example A, below). Although the second round of stitches looks nice and even, a discerning eye may be unhappy with the unevenness of the first round.
In the swatch B, below, the base round was worked in the same color as the main piece, allowing the uneven stitches to blend in for a tidier appearance.
Placing Stitches in the Base Round
The specifics of stitch placement will vary based on the composition of your main fabric and the size and weight of the yarn and hook. Read on for suggested best practices for various border scenarios, but as always, use your judgment for best results!
WORKING INTO THE CROCHETED MAIN FABRIC
Determine the optimal spacing for the stitches, based on your personal gauge. Use the following as guidelines only:
* Make one single crochet in every single-crochet row-end.
* Make two single crochets per double-crochet row-end, three single crochets for every two double-crochet row-ends, or some other ratio that matches your single-crochet stitch gauge to your double-crochet row gauge.
* When working along a diagonal edge, you may have to work more stitches than you would for a straight edge. You'll have to play around until you find the right ratio for that particular angle.
* Concave (inward bending) curves will require a bit of decreasing to make a smooth base round, while convex (outward bending) curves require increases to lie flat.
Excerpted from "Every Which Way Crochet Borders"
Copyright © 2017 Edith L. Eckman.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsGoing 'Round the Bend
Choices: Form Follows Function
Customizing Your Borders
The Power of Swatching
Crocheted Border Mechanics
About the Patterns
Border Designs: A Collection of 139 Borders, from Narrow and Simple to Wide and Complex
Reading Crochet Patterns
Table of Attributes