Hems made without a ribber

by Roni Knutson (Written with Studio/Silver Reed steel bed machines in mind.)

If you haven't got a ribber, don't worry, there are lots of hems you can knit without one, here's a few for you to try...

The first is just a plain stocking stitch hem. Just cast-on and knit. The knitting will roll up on itself towards the knit side of the garment. It looks great at the bottom of sweaters, on the cuffs and around the neck. I have seen it used on standard gauge sweaters and on chunky and it looked just as effective on both. If you knit the main part of the sweater in stocking stitch with a solid colour, try doing the hem roll-ups in a matching varigated yarn. Alternatively, try it the other way around, main part of the sweater in varigated yarn and the roll ups in solid colour.

Next is a
plain stocking stitch hem that is cast-on and knit but then is caught up on the inside of the garment. Cast-on with 'e' wrap or waste yarn and knit a few rows. Then find a ravel cord (nylon cord - looks like fine crochet cotton), switch to T10 and knit one row with the ravel cord. Roll the row counter back to 000. If the hem is going to be 20 rows deep, knit 20 rows with the main yarn set at the correct tension. Knit one row at a higher tension (this loose row forms a crease so that when the hem is turned up the fold-line will be clear and you'll have a nice flat hem). Then knit 20 more rows at the correct tension. Using a transfer tool, pick up the loops from the first row knitted in the main yarn and place them on the needles. Draw out the ravel cord (you will probably have to unpick a little of one end of it) and your hem is now complete. There are lots of variations on this (one of which does the first 20 rows in a tighter tension to avoid the hem flaring out) but this is the simplest.

The Picot Edge variation is especially nice on baby clothes and is not difficult to do. Cast on as before and knit the required number of rows with the main yarn (which if you think about it, is half the total rows of the hem). Take a transfer tool and transfer every other stitch to it's neighbouring needle, starting with the 2nd stitch. Leave the empty needles in working position ('B' position) and knit the remaining hem rows. Pick up the loops from the first row knitted in the main yarn and place them on the needles. Draw out the ravel cord and your hem is done. There are a few variations on this too, but if you're a beginner this is the easiest.

1 x 1 Mock Rib. Once you figure out that you can knit a certain amount of rows, pick up the first row and form a hem, it shouldn't take you much to realize that if you left every other needle out of work you would have a stretchy hem that looked like it was made with a ribber. All you have to do is push up the number of needles needed for what you are making. Push every alternate needle back to non-working position (which is position 'A' on your needle bed) and cast on with waste yarn. (I use the weaving cast-on which means I still have to set up the needles in the 1 up, 1 down position (B position, D position, B position etc., across the needles) and then I cast-on using my waste yarn.) Knit a few rows with the waste yarn, ending with the carriage at the left. Change to T10 and knit one row with the ravel cord. Change to a tension that is three less (tighter) than the main tension for the main yarn (in other words if the main tension is going to be 7, do the mock rib at T 4). RC000 If the pattern asked for 28 rows of rib, knit 28 rows. Then knit 1 row (folding row) at the main tension and 28 rows at the main tension minus three. Now, push forward all those alternate needles sitting at 'A' position. Pick up the first row loops and close the hem by putting them on the needles. Do it as evenly as you can, if you are out one loop at the end, fudge! And that's it. Once you have a few rows knit after the hem, you can pull out the ravel cord.

Best Mock Rib of all - 2 x 1 - Same as mock rib above but instead of pushing back every alternate needle to non-working position, push back every third. Cast on and knit as before.

Lace - Lace hems, cuffs and necklines are definitely in and can be done on a machine without a lace carriage, so you don't have to rush out and buy one. If you don't have any good machine knitting instruction books or magazines, take a look at your hand knitting ones. There are lace patterns in there that can be adapted for machine knitting. Don't know how to do lace - if you made the picots above - you have already done simple lace!

Copyright©rvk Feb. 1999