Knitters respond to borders by performing a technique known as binding off. After we bind off, we might decide to add knitted or crocheted lace. We might even embellish our borders with beads, tassels, or fringe.
We often feel compelled to decorate our borders. A border needs care. It can be the weakest part of a garment. Sometimes what we do to our borders in the guise of beauty actually results in a stronger border. Those who ignore proper care of their borders may have to live with curled-up edges that are very hard to maintain. If the border is not properly blocked and handled after cleaning, the garment may never be the same again. Some are process knitters, who knit for the sheer joy of the act of knitting itself, so they don’t care.
What is binding off? This basic knitting technique securely finishes your last row of knitting, or beginning of an armhole or neckline. If one tends to be a tight knitter, you will want to be especially careful with your tension, or you will end up with a bacon-like edge. (Think Michael Jordan tee-shirt commercial.) If you have chronic problems with your bind off tension, just go up one or even two sizes on the needles you use for your bind off.
You can even practice different types of bind off techniques with scraps of yarn and all of your different sizes of needles. These can be mounted on scrapbook cardstock with those cute little brads made just for such a purpose. You can label your swatches with those little manilla tags that come pre-fitted with string. That way, when you refer to your collection of bind off samples, you will actually be able to remember what you did, and how. Don’t forget to slide your finished pages into archival page protectors and store them in a big three-ring binder.
Borders are liminal places. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, liminal is defined as:
of or relating to a sensory threshold
of relating to or being an intermediate state, phase or condition
This applies in all cases, whether dealing with the border of a garment or the border of a nation. In ancient times, edges and borders were considered dangerous place where unknown, malicious forces lurk. In order to counter these evil forces, the ancients resorted to all manner of decoration and protective charms, much like the magpie knitters among us today. Beads, tassels, spangles, dangles, bells and mirrors dispelled evil and displayed social status. You might want to do some personal research on ancient garment decoration. You will be amazed and inspired.