The selvage (or selvedge) of knit fabric is an edge formed by changing the stitch pattern at the beginning and end of every row. This stabilizes the fabric and prepares it for seaming or creates a finished edge on pieces that will have no further finishing.
You can add selvage stitches to an existing pattern or when designing your own garments. Be sure to add them to the total stitch count. Usually a selvage is one stitch, but it can be two or more. Multiple-stitch selvages are most often used to prevent curling on nonseamed pieces, such as scarves.
Selvage stitches form a firm edge, which is helpful when working openwork patterns that tend to widen, or with slippery yarns, such as silk or rayon, which have a tendency to slide out of shape.
Selvage stitches can be used to avoid interrupting colorwork or stitch patterns with a seam. The selvage stitches serve as the seam allowance and disappear when the pieces are sewn.
Some selvages, such as garter or slip-stitch selvages, can help you keep track of rows. The knots or chains created on every other row make it easy to count the rows.
You should work all increases and decreases inside selvage edges, but when you shape a piece by binding off stitches, the selvage stitch will also disappear. Establish it again on the first row that is worked even. Always measure inside selvage edges.
Garter stitch selvage (left side) This selvage is best worked on stockinette stitch fabrics and is the easiest selvage for beginners.
|Garter stitch selvage (right side) The selvage looks slightly different on the right edge, as shown here. Work left and right edges as follows: Row 1 Knit one, work to the last stitch, knit one. Repeat this row.|
|This method has three variations. All of them make a chain stitch edge, with each chain loop representing two rows. It is perfect to use when you must later pick up stitches.|
|English method Row 1 (RS) Slip the first stitch knitwise, work to the last stitch, slip the last stitch knitwise. Row 2 Purl one, work to the last stitch, purl one. Repeat these two rows.|
|French method Row 1 (RS) Slip the first stitch knitwise, work to the last stitch, knit one. Row 2 Slip the first stitch purlwise, work to the last stitch, purl one. Repeat these two rows.|
|German method Row 1 (RS) Knit the first stitch, work to the last stitch. With the yarn in back, slip the last stitch purlwise. Row 2 Purl the first stitch, work to the last stitch. With the yarn in front, slip the last stitch purlwise. Repeat these two rows.|