Beautify Your Crocheted or Knitted Afghans with These Simple Borders
I am a volunteer coordinator, designer and yarn crafter for a charitable outreach called Kidney Afghans For Kids. One of my jobs with KAFK is to take the 6"x6" or 8"x8" squares knitted or crocheted by our volunteers and piece them together into full-sized afghans/blankets. Because of the large volume of squares I deal with on a regular basis, I needed to find some simple ways to border the finished afghans so that they have a nice, professionally finished look to them, but without that part of the process being too time-consuming.
In this article, I will show you four very simple border patterns, including examples from finished afghans. They are applicable for any knitted or crocheted blanket. I'll also share with you my favorite pattern books so that you can get even more ideas for your next yarn craft project.
Putting a Border On Is My Favorite Part!
At Kidney Afghans For Kids, donors from all over the United States send boxes or bags of 6"x6" or 8"x8" squares made of acrylic yarn to me and our founder, Alan Patterson. Other volunteers, like me and my mum Cindy, sort them, weed out the ones that aren't quite square, organize them by colors, lay them out in patterns, and piece them together using a variety of methods (like whip-stitch, slip-stitch, or single crochet). When all the loose ends are tucked away and all the squares are bound, it's time for the border. The border is my favorite part of the process because it's the icing on the cake. I can already see how the layout and color scheme have fallen together; the border puts the finishing touch on an already beautiful work.
The trick is using a border that suits the afghan thematically. We make afghans for children, so we don't use borders that have a lot of loose parts or fringes, because they get snagged on edges too easily, or hands and fingers poke through them. We don't use complicated patterns because we have a lot of afghans to make to give away, so the process needs to be efficient, as far as time is concerned.
Four of the patterns I use most frequently are featured here. They don't employ difficult stitches, they are repetitive, they give a nice clean edge to the blanket, and they are fast and easy to do.
A Great Border Pattern Resource
Double Crochet Stitches
The first default border is very simple.
The first round after the squares are pieced, put an even number of single crochet stitches across the outside edge of each square, with three in each corner. This is an important step for three reasons: First, you can work over all loose tails on the edges and hide them; second, it puts an even number of stitches across squares that may not have the same number of stitches (more on that in a minute); and third, it creates a base edge for continuing the border work evenly around the afghan.
Regarding the number of stitches per square, it is important to create uniformity at the outset. We get squares sent to us that have anywhere from 17 to 25 stitches on any given side. If we were to simply put one border stitch into each existing stitch, the border would be unevenly distributed. Some squares would be bordered by so few stitches, the square will stretch. Others would be bordered by so many, there would be an unwanted ruffle. You can avoid both of these by picking a number and sticking to it! For a typical 6"x6" square edge, using a size H-8 hook, I like to put between 19-21 stitches on each square's outside edge. This means that for squares that have only 17-18 stitches, I double up once or twice, and for squares that have 24-25 stitches on their edge, I will evenly skip a few stitches along the way when putting on the border.
Once the evenly distributed single crochet row is completed, and the last stitch is slip-stitched to the first, then I chain 3 (counts as first double crochet), and double crochet into each single crochet stitch of the first round; when I get to a corner, I double crochet 2, chain 2, and double crochet 2 in the center of the 3 single crochets.
I go around in this fashion, with a double crochet in each stitch across, and dc 2-ch 2-dc 2 in each corner until I'm ready for the last round.
The last round can then be either single crochet in each stitch across, with 3 sc in each ch-2 space in the corner, or double crochet in each stitch across, with 5 dc in each ch-2 space in the corner. Bind off, tuck your ends, et voila!
Double - Chain 1
This border is one I like to use on afghans geared toward boys because of the geometric shape that emerges.
Again, start with the single crochet round (evenly distribute 19-21 stitches across each exposed edge of the afghan squares, putting 3 sc into the corners).
Round 2, Chain 4 (counts as double crochet plus chain 1), skip a stitch, double crochet in next stitch. Ch 1, skip next stitch, dc in next stitch all the way across. In the corners, 2 dc - ch 2 - 2 dc in center stitch of 3 sc from previous round.
Round 3, sc or dc in each dc and ch-1 sp across sides (depending on how thick you want your border to be). Add 5 sc or 5 dc in each ch-2 corner space.
This pattern can be extended multiple layers, just by repeating Round 2 and Round 3, always finishing with Round 3.
In the one shown here, I did the sc round, Round 2, Round 3 with dc, and finished with a round of sc to match the first.
What Is Kidney Afghans For Kids?
Kidney Afghans For Kids (KAFK) was started in 2008 by Alan Patterson after successfully receiving a kidney from a living donor. KAFK is a volunteer-run Healing Prayer Afghan Ministry that gives beautiful, warm, colorful afghans to children battling any type of kidney disease or disorder, including transplant and dialysis patients. They are free. Email email@example.com to learn how to receive one or request one as a gift.
Double Up the Doubles
Because these are meant to be easy borders, I don't use many complicated stitches. Instead, I just mix up the ones I learned first.
In this border, I created the sc round first (described in Pattern #1). Then in every other stitch across, I put in 2 dc, skipping the alternating stitches. In the corner, 2 dc - ch 2 - 2 dc.
On the outside round, I put 3 sc into each corner space, ch 2, SKIP the next 2 dc, and sc BETWEEN the corner double crochets and the first cluster of 2 dc. Ch 2 and sc BETWEEN each cluster all the way across, putting 3 sc into each corner space. It has a slight lace effect, a softer, more feminine edge, and is not difficult to do at all.
Go Granny, Go!
This last one is used when the majority of squares in an afghan are traditional granny squares.
Apply the sc round described in Pattern #1.
Round 2: Starting in the corner, 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc. Skip the next sc, 3 dc in next sc. Skip next 2 sc, 3 dc in next dc. Continue across edge, putting 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc in each corner.
Round 3: Slip Stitch to corner, 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc in corner space. Skip next dc, 2 dc in next stitch, skip 2, 3 dc in next, skip 2, 3 dc in next (repeat as such across).
Repeat Rounds 2-3 until desired width is achieved. In last round, put 5 dc into each corner ch-2 space to finish off.
All of the Borders and Their Respective Afghans
Let's Put It To A Vote!
Don't Run for the Border without Saying Hello! - Let me know you stopped by here :)
Nancy Pawlowski from Casper WY on April 16, 2015:
Thanks for the border ideas! I also avoid putting fringe on afghans since it is a waste of yarn in my opinion. What I usually do is put on a simple single crochet border (2 times around with 3 sc in the corner stitch) on my afghan squares.
I'll bet other people's squares can be a challenge to match up. Good job!
happynutritionist on June 12, 2014:
Isn't this wonderful! I'm going to pin this for future reference. Thank you.
soniabaad lm on June 09, 2014:
Weaving yarn requires a lot of patience. But, the end result that we get is worth every minute that we have spent on it.
VspaBotanicals on May 30, 2014:
I love them all. Beautiful lens!
WriterJanis2 on March 17, 2014:
I love your border ideas. They really frame the crochet patterns nicely.
Takkhis on December 22, 2013:
Never heard of this before! It sounds very interesting :)
KathyZ1 on October 16, 2013:
Interesting lens. Thanks for your sharing.
Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on October 06, 2013:
I used to crochet years ago. I always had trouble with putting all the squares together. Glad that I read your lens today as I'd love to start crocheting again and have found your article very helpful.
anonymous on October 03, 2013:
What? There's a border check! Hang on.... pulls out and flashes passport LOL
Such beautiful work for such a wonderful cause
ChocolateLily on October 01, 2013:
Great and easy ideas! I don't crochet many afghans, but I like to learn all I can about crochet. Thanks for sharing these and the foundation you work with!