My applied border is all loosey goosey

Some advice on how to improve my applied border please.
I have a swatch I’m practising on.

The top section has live stitches from a provisional cast on. This is where I am applying the border using k2tog with the last border stitch and 1 live stitch.
The red lines show the stitches which are very loose and ugly sitting on top of the border. There is no neat edge, these loose stitches continue across.
The blue line is roughly where I increased needle size to improve the border fabric. The loose stitches are the same. Ugly.
I thought it might help to knit a row o to the live stitches before applying the border. The yellow line shows roughly where this took place. The transition is a little improved as the loose stitches are now in the border colour but even so they are big and producing holes at each k2tog join. The orange arrow point to the loose joining stitches and holes.

It’s not at all how I imagined an applied border. I thought it would be a smooth join and pretty snug and neat.
Am I doing something wrong or are there tips for improvement please?

My initial thought was that an applied border would
Avoid sewing on a border
Avoid any tightness of having a seam as this will be on the bottom of a vest top so I’d like the stretch.

However, would I get a better/neater result just binding off the live stitches and sewing on a separate border?

I use k2tog tbl to join the live (or picked up) stitch with the border stitches. Have you tried that? K2tog tbl or other left leaning decrease works, I use what’s easier and faster. I got a quick photo of my last applied border but thanks to the dark color it might not show well. There is a ridge that looks a lot like I cord where the border is joined.


Oh that’s very neat. Thank you I’ll try it.
Does I make any difference which direction the live stitches were heading in (on mine it’s the cast on row but from a provisional cast on, could this add to the problem?)?

Can I ask too, are borders usually jnit in the same size needle as the main fabric or in a different size? I’m putting horizontal border onto vertical knitting and just guessed to use a smaller needle, then tried 2 sizes so far.

Thank you so much

Hi, I have always joined with a k2tog tbl. Also, I then slip the first stitch of the next row of the border. I think I was always happy with the result.


Instant improvement. Thanks again this has made a big difference. The tutorial I watched had a regular k2tog and it’s horrible.

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Thank you.
Yes I have been slipping the first stitch in the WS (the one that has been k2tog tbl). The last part of my swatch is so much better.
Now to work out the needle size. Do you swatch for size kn the border?
My fabric is on 5mm but its twisted rib so it’s a bit tighter than a regular 5mm. I’ve randomly swatched the border with 2.5mm which was too tight for the yarn and then 4mm which is too loose.

I guess I’ll frog the swatch and try a 3mm.
I’m just wondering is it normal to change size on a border?

Love your blanket!

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Stunning blanket

That’s beautiful. If you’re not happy with it I’ll take it off your hands. Just being nice, ya know. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Swatch? I start the applied border and if after I knit enough to tell whether things are working out to my liking I either stick with the needle I’m using or change, try that one, and eventually rip out what I’ve done and start anew with the needle size I like. On the shawl in the photo I shared, I think I went down a needle size for the last row (knit on the WS) and used the same size for the border. If it’s right there’s no reason to have to start on the shawl and rip out the swatch; if it’s not right it’s gotta be frogged anyhow so I just keep trying until I’m satisfied with the needle size I’m using. I’m so into make it up as I go and rarely follow patterns anyhow. Do you know about using short rows in the border to turn corners? I used a short row on each side of the row that hit the point of the shawl in the photo. Short rows can come in handy for fudging if the repeat isn’t going to end in the right place also - I did that on the same shawl. If you need a tutorial I’ll see what I can scare up. What video did you watch that shows a k2tog instead of a left leaning decrease? I’d like to see it. My stitches are oriented with leading leg in front (I think it’s called western mount); if the leading leg is in back it will end up twisted more than ‘normal’ when knit through the back loop I think. If that’s how yours is and you like it, no worries. Your creation means you decide what is right. There are are no knitting police and if there were they’d be camped out in my home since I do everything wrong. :rofl:


Normal is for other people where I’m concerned. Typically I will use a smaller needle, usually one size down. It can depend on the border pattern. Some knit up with fewer rows per inch, others with more rows per inch. For me it’s trial and error.


Your knitting is beautiful. When you get this border thing worked out you’ll have a lovely FO and new skills to use. It’s worth the effort!

Haha! Already gone to an offspring!!

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Thank you! A mostly free one from Martin Storey at Rowan!

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I think I just do trial and error! Your edging is beautiful and the loose stitches are hardly noticeable - I wouldn’t have seen them if you hadn’t highlighted them. It’s also hard to know what it’ll look like after blocking because small differences often disappear. I suspect you set yourself very high standards!! X


Fabulous. Thank you. This is all so helpful.
Yes of course each border will knit up differently. I think I’m on track now. I have done part with a needle too small and part a needle too big so my next trial is a needle in the middle.

I don’t think I’ve ever done just what the pattern told me to do, I always have to change something!
This border is not part of the pattern I’m making, I’m adding it to the bottom of a vest top… well if it is stretchy enough to go across my hips that is!
I need to make a swatch as I didn’t know how the lace would work out. I found this lovely vintage lace pattern with the small leaves, but even this I am altering as I don’t like where the stem flows and decided some of the k2tog are better placed as ssk tbl.

As it is around the hem I do not need to turn a corner this time (leave that bit of learning for another project) but your information is appreciated as I may well need to fudge a bit if this 8 row repeat doesn’t perfectly fit the stitch count. I have not yet got to that bit of maths.

As with many things in life, as one question is answered, another question materialises.
The join of the beginning and end of the border, do you just seam in mattress stitch or do you have live stitches at the cast on for the border and graft or 3 needle bind off or something?

Thank you. I think it probably looks more noticable in real life than on the photo. I do tend to be a bit particular …never achieve the magnificent image I have have in my head! Haha!

All the help has been marvelous. Thanks all

I’ve just looked back at a few videos. On one it’s just k2tog. On another they demonstrate k2tog but do say this could be a different decrease such as s1k1psso or ssk. I supposed having watched a couple it just stuck in my head k2tog and my lack of experience meant I didn’t realise the ssktbl would be a better choice.

Are you working this on a pullover and want to join the ends seamlessly? If that’s it, I think I’d start with a provisional cast on and then graft the live stitches. However, at a side seam (or where a side seam would be if you worked seamlessly) wouldn’t detract from your work IMHO.

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Thank you

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I’ve done it!

I can’t believe I’ve actually done this. 20 minutes ago it was a knotty mess with life lines and extra rows in scrap yarn for the beginning and end of the border and I was cursing over the grafting convinced I’d done it all wrong and it would fall apart.
And then suddenly it’s done!

I still have a life line on the main body in case I have to rip the border off (I need to try it on to see if the size worked… but not tonight, I’ve done enough) but I think you can still see that the applied border with the ssk turned out neatly.
My first applied border and my first grafting.
Thank you for all the help.


Beautiful! Well done. Funny how it all comes together and you suddenly realize it worked. What a great feeling.

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