Knitters often get really excited about the main part of their knitting but don't pay as much attention to the details. We might not think to use a decorative ribbing, add a picot edge, work a band of colorwork at the base of a sleeve or add a rounded corner to our sweaters.
At least that's the way it is before a knitter starts looking through Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge, Knitting over the Edge and Knitting Beyond the Edge. These three books are guaranteed to get knitters' creative juices flowing and have them thinking about details in a whole new way.
Knitting On the Edge
The first book in this great series is Knitting Over the Edge: The Essential Collection of 350 Decorative Borders. In the introduction to the book, Epstein calls edgings "the icing on the cake, the extra dimension that lends distinction, the piece de resistance that can turn your work into a 'show stopper'."
That is, indeed, what the ideas in this and the other books can do for an otherwise basic knitting project. This book deals with all manner of edgings including ribs, ruffles, lace, fringes, flora (patterns with leaves and other natural elements) and points and picots.
It also includes seven patterns for scarves, sweaters and a bag illustrating how some of these frills can be used on otherwise straightforward projects.
Each pattern is illustrated with a swatch, and directional symbols are given to let you know whether the edging needs to be knit from the top down or bottom up, whether you can pick up stitches or sew on the border separately and whether the design is reversible.
Nearly every page will show knitters something they haven't seen before or that makes them think of a new way of doing things. The ribbing at the bottom of a sweater doesn't have to be boring; it could be made in horizontal or vertical stripes, incorporate a cable or use a basketweave texture.
The creative ruffles and fringes presented in the book will make you feel like every edge should be embellished, and give you ideas to do just that.
Knitting Over the Edge
As if the first book weren't enough to keep most of us busy, it was followed up with Knitting Over the Edge: The Second Essential Collection of Over 350 Decorative Borders. (Compare Prices)
This book offers unique ribs (including ribs with loops, tassels, bobbles and cables), cords (with bobbles, bands and braids, as fringe and more), appliqués (pretzels, flowers and disks added after knitting), colors (cute argyle, houndstooth and small picture patterns such as cats, cherries and bows) and nouveau, a section of funky borders the likes of which you've probably never seen.
Like the first book, this one also includes patterns. This time there are five: a flower pullover with a bobble rib, a scarf with circular cords for fringe, an "American Beauty" rose capelet with appliquéd roses, a felted floral wrap and a coat with fur ball trim.
Also like the first book, this one will leave you wondering why you'd ever knit a plain stockinette stitch anything when you could always throw in a little row of fish or stars or snowflakes or add a lively border.
Knitting Beyond the Edge
The third book takes readers a little bit away from the edge but remains firmly in the world of decoration. Knitting Beyond the Edge: The Essential Collection of Decorative Finishes deals with different ways to knit cuffs, collars, necklines, corners, edges and closures for your garments. (Compare Prices)
Many of the cuffs and collars in the book would give your project a feminine look, but some of them are modern as well. Ruffles and lace are popular choices, while some are embellished with beads, sequins, appliqués and ribbons.
The collection of necklines will make you want to knit a different sweater with each choice, from a scoop neck to an eyelet ruffle, a cabled turtleneck to a placket with eyelets for a cord tie to go through.
The corners and edges section deals with hems, edges and corners, including drawstring edges that would be great for kids' sweaters and mitered corners that could be used in all sorts of ways.
And the closure section deals with button bands and loops, knit frogs and buttons.
The projects in this book include a flowery jacket, a cardigan with cabled points, a hooded shawl, a V-neck sleeveless sweater and a faux-Fair Isle jacket.
The bottom line is, if you love embellishing basic knitting projects or coming up with your own designs based around a fantastic element, you will love these books and go to them time and again for inspiration.
Publication dates: March 2004, April 2005, November 2006.