Slipping the first stitch on a shawl or scarf tidies up the edge nicely. There’s less yarn there to get all weird and floppy. Whether it’s needed or not can also can depend on the finishing you’re going to do and the yarn you’re using.
Stretching while blocking
If you’re planning to stretch the FO during blocking, you may not want to slip the edge. A few things for you to consider when deciding whether to slip the first stitch or not.
- You will have less yarn so you’ll have less to stretch. A slipped edge will constrain how much you can stretch.
- Stretching will smooth out a lot of imperfections.
- Keep in mind you’re knitting for the final piece. It doesn’t matter how it looks in the interim. It’ll likely only be you who will see it.
If you’re planning to stretch the FO during blocking, make sure you test it out first. A slipped stitch edge will have less give and it will stretch less.
I started out slipping the first stitch of my shawls because I liked the look. But then I realized it was constraining how much I could stretch during blocking and I eventually stopped in most cases. Again, ymmv.
Which type of slipped stitches?
You have at least 4 options here – where the yarn is and which way you slip the stitch.
- Slip stitch with yarn in back
- Slip stitch with yarn in front
- Slip stitch purlwise (untwisted)
- Slip stitch knitwise
I’ve used all four methods and this is largely an aesthetic decision (well, ok, aesthetic and also what’s easier for you to knit). For me, it’s easier to slip with yarn in back if my next stitch is a knit stitch. There’s less movement of where the yarn is. It also creates a pretty chain edge.
Note I said “for me” and that’s because there are tons of ways to knit and you may have an easier time with another method – and that’s ok.
My advice if you’re not sure – try it out on a swatch and make note of which one you’re doing. I add a note to my project on ravelry. It’s great for me to remember – especially if I don’t work on the WIP (see our article on common knitting abbreviations) for a while – and it’s also helpful for people to read what I did.
Swatch, swatch, swatch
When in doubt – knit up a sample. It’ll give you a chance to work with the yarn and see what you like best. Important – make sure you finish your swatch the same way you plan to finish the FO so it’s a true comparison.
Here are two examples of different edges – some are nubby and some have a chain.
Slipping a stitch can make a nice edge but you need to decide at the beginning of the project. Also, your finishing treatment can have a big impact. Don’t let the wonky edge impact you too much. You may like having that extra yarn during blocking.