I have finished all the knitting on the Arctic Diamonds Stole. See, here's the end of the last diamond and the final edging.
It's still on the needles, because I haven't yet figured out how to bind it off. The bind-off isn't a huge deal for this stole; the edge needs only to be about as sideways stretchy as the body. But, since I intend to knit more -- and increasingly difficult -- lace projects, it seemed reasonable to investigate a few different methods of getting a super-loose finish. I settled on three to swatch, and the results were most interesting.
The first is called Modified Standard by Eunny Jang (Interweave Knits, Fall 2006), and it's the least stretchy of the three. Also the least appealing visually (to me), since it produces the same loops lying across the fabric as does a standard bindoff. The only difference is that you add a yarnover between the knits. Howso? Well, first you knit one stitch. Then the ongoing process is: yarnover, knit one, pass both the first stitch and the yarnover over the second stitch. This bind-off helps to keep things loose and generates a prettier edge than one gets by going up a few needle sizes, but it does not stretch quite as much as the knit fabric.
The next bindoff I tried has several different names. Some call it Lace Bind-Off and some call it Knit Bind-Off. Or even Knit Lace Bind-Off. Opinions also vary as to its stretchiness. It's pretty simple. You begin by knitting two stitches. Then pass those two back to the left needle and knit them together. Now there is one stitch on the right needle. So knit one, pass the two stitches back to the left needle and knit them together, and keep repeating. This bind-off produces a firm and pretty edge that has more stretch than the Modified Standard -- definitely enough for my purposes. A variation of this method that I did not take the time to swatch involves knitting the two stitches together through the back loops. Supposedly the back-loop approach looks more like a standard bind-off.
And last we have the Russian Bind-Off, also sometimes called Lace Bind-Off (just so we can all be thoroughly confused). It's actually just like its cousin, the "Lace Bind-Off" above, except with this one you purl instead of knitting. Purl two stitches, then slip them back to the left and purl them together, and so on. It's easier and faster than the knitted version (for an English-style knitter), because the maneuver that lines up the two stitches to slip from right to left is the same position needed to purl them together. Two steps become one. The resulting edge is open and really attractive, and this bind-off has the most stretch of the three. It stretches even more than the knitted fabric.
After a bit of dithering, I decided to use the Knit Lace Bind-Off (the middle one). I like the way it looks, and it has just enough stretch. The Russian Bind-Off is lovely, but I think it might be TOO stretchy. I could wind up with a ruffly edge at one end. So I will save this bind-off for another occasion. Now I simply need to gather up my courage, remind myself that I can always unbind it and reknit if I don't like the result, and do the deed.
Next comes the thrill of blocking.