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|Edition description:||Second Edition|
|Product dimensions:||4.60(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.20(d)|
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The foundation of your knitting is the cast on. Finding the right cast on for a particular project is essential. Firm cast ons support shawls and necklines. Hats and socks fit comfortably thanks to stretchy ones. Decorative cast ons add a special edge to dressy garments. Many knitters remain loyal to just one cast on, which will be perfect for some projects but may be too loose or too tight, or just won't look right, on others.
Basic Cast Ons
Q: I know how to do only one cast on, but I know there are others. Should I learn them?
A: You'll find it very helpful to know several of the basic cast ons (often abbreviated "CO" in knitting instructions) so you can choose among them depending on the situation. You should probably be familiar with the Loop and Backward Loop Cast Ons, the Knitted Cast On, the Cable Cast On, and the Long-Tail Cast On.
LOOP CAST ON
Many knitters start out using the Loop Cast On as beginners and continue to use it for the rest of their lives. It is not the best cast on, but it is the easiest to learn, can be tightened or loosened later, and is thin and unobtrusive. On the other hand, it can be loose or uneven, is difficult to work into on the first row, and has a tendency to spiral around the needle (only a problem for circular knitting); in addition, the loose single strand at the edge of the fabric does not wear well.
When to use it: Good all-around cast on for sweaters, hats, socks, scarves, shawls, or anything for which you want the edge to stretch. Particularly useful when you want very little bulk or might need to adjust the tension of the cast on later (for example, when starting i-cord, a top-down hat, a tip-down mitten, or a shawl from the center out).
Get ready: Use one needle and a single strand of yarn. Hold the cut end of the yarn in the left hand with the needle and the working yarn (attached to the ball; see How much yarn do I need?) in your right hand.
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Point your thumb toward yourself, under the yarn. Turn your thumb away from you.
2. Slip the needle up into the loop on your thumb.
3. Slip your thumb out and tighten the loop.
Repeat steps 1 through 3 until there are enough stitches on your needle. (A stitch is one loop around the needle.)
* Use your index finger instead of your thumb.
* The Backward Loop Cast On twists the loops in the opposite direction. Hold the needle and cut tail of yarn in your left hand exactly as described for the Loop Cast On. In step 1, point your thumb away from you, then turn it toward you in step 2. When you knit the first row, it will further twist the cast-on stitches, tightening them and making the edge more elastic.
* Switch hands. Hold the needle and cut tail of yarn in your right hand. If you follow the directions for the Loop Cast On, you'll make a Backward Loop Cast On. To duplicate the Loop Cast On exactly, point your thumb away from you in step 1, then turn it toward you in step 2.
KNITTED CAST ON
Because the cast-on stitches are made just like regular knit stitches, this is an excellent cast on for beginners. It is easier to work into on the first row, its twisted bottom edge is more resilient, and it wears better than the Loop Cast On. It can look a little holey if worked too loosely, however, and can be difficult for beginners to tension evenly.
When to use it: Good all-around cast on for sweaters, hats, socks, scarves, shawls, or anything where you want the edge to stretch.
Get ready: Use two needles and a single strand of yarn. Make a slip knot as shown below, leaving a short tail, and place it on your left needle.
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Knit a stitch, leaving the original stitch on the needle (see The Knit Stitch). Hint: Work the new stitch a little more loosely than usual.
2. Insert the left needle up into the new stitch from the front.
3. Pull on the yarn to tighten the stitch.
Repeat these three steps until you have enough stitches. The original slip knot counts as the first stitch.
CABLE CAST ON
A version of the Knitted Cast On, this method creates an even, cablelike edge that wears well. It is not stretchy, however, and produces a pronounced, horizontal edge that some knitters dislike. On the other hand, the ribbed variation is excellent for garments that begin with K1, P1 (knit 1, purl 1) ribbing (see The Ribbed Cable Cast On).
When to use it: Perfect for edges that need to be firm. Can be used for sweaters, but take care to work loosely. Consider the ribbed variation when more stretch is required (for example, the bottom of a hat or the top of a sock).
Get ready: Use two needles and a single strand of yarn. Begin with a slip knot, then cast on one more stitch, using the Knitted Cast On. Hint: Work the second stitch a little more loosely than usual.
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Insert the right needle between the two stitches. Knit up a stitch, leaving the two original stitches on the left needle.
2. Insert the left needle up into the new stitch from the front and slip it off the right needle.
Repeat these three steps, always knitting the new stitch up between the last two stitches on the needle, until you have enough stitches.
Tip: The Cable Cast On is easier if you work step 1, inserting the needle between the last two stitches, before you tighten the newest stitch. If you tighten it first, you'll just have to loosen it again before you can insert the needle.
The Ribbed Cable Cast On is a variation on the Cable Cast On that stretches more and is a good general purpose cast on, especially for K1, P1 ribbing. Make it by alternately knitting and purling between the last two stitches. To purl, insert the needle between the two stitches from the back (bottom left).
See also: The Standard Stitches, Knit 1, Purl 1, Ribbing; The Purl Stitch.
TYING A SLIP KNOT
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Hold the end of the yarn in your hand. Wrap the yarn one and a half times around two fingers to end at the back.
2. Poke a loop of the yarn through between your fingers.
3. Slip your fingers out and tighten by pulling on the cut end and the loop.
LONG-TAIL CAST ON
Also known as the Continental Cast On, this is probably the best of the basic cast ons. Once learned, it can be executed very quickly. It is stretchy but not loose and creates a neat, even edge that's not too thick. Its two sides are noticeably different; you can decide which you prefer for the outside of your garment.
When to use it: Can be used for almost anything that requires a medium amount of stretch.
1. Use one needle and a single strand of yarn. Pull out a length of yarn for the "long tail." Make a slip knot at this point and place it on the needle. Hold the needle in your right hand with your index finger on top of the slip knot to keep it from sliding. The long tail should hang from the front of the stitch, and the working yarn from the back.
See also: Estimating the Length of the Tail.
2. Pinch your thumb and index finger together and insert them between the two strands of yarn.
3. Spread your thumb and finger apart so that the long tail hangs over your thumb and the working yarn hangs over your index finger.
4. Catch both strands of yarn against the palm of your hand with your other fingers. Hint: Don't let these go!
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Insert the needle up through the loop around your thumb.
2. Bring the needle over and around the strand in front of your index finger.
3. Bring the needle back out through the thumb loop.
4. Let the loop slide off your thumb.
5. Put your thumb behind the long tail and use it to tighten the loop.
Repeat these five steps until there are enough stitches. The slip knot counts as the first stitch.
Note: As with many knitting techniques, it takes far longer to describe this than to do it. Practice until you can consistently control the tension of both strands by holding them against your palm. Then you'll be able to knit up the stitches very smoothly and rapidly.
This cast on accomplishes exactly the same thing as if you had used the Loop Cast On and then knit 1 row. Keep this in mind if your instructions say to cast on and then knit 1 row.
If you find it difficult to hold the yarn in your left hand, then switch. Hold the needle in your left hand and the yarn in your right hand. If you find it difficult to hold both strands of yarn in your left hand, move the working yarn to your right hand. Use a long straight needle and prop it against your leg or hold it under your arm so that you can let it go from time to time. The needle stays still while you do this; only your hands move.
1. Point your thumb up at the ceiling and slip the loop onto the point of the needle.
2. Wrap the yarn around the needle with your right hand. If you like, you can hold the needle with your left thumb and index finger while you do this.
3. Take the thumb loop back off the needle by bringing your thumb straight over the top of the needle and down the back.
4. Slide your thumb out of the loop and pull the yarn with your left hand to tighten.
5. Point your thumb straight down behind the yarn, then twist it toward you to put the loop back on.
Repeat these five steps until there are enough stitches.
Q: The yarn for the tail gets untwisted as I work the Long-Tail Cast On. Why does this happen and what can I do about it?
A: Each time you slip the loop off your thumb, you put a half-twist in the yarn. When this twist is in the opposite direction from the twist in the yarn, the yarn gradually untwists as you work. Let go of the yarn occasionally and let it twist back to its original state before continuing. You can roll it between your fingers to help it along. You may not want to use this cast on if your yarn is a bulky one with almost no twist to begin with.
Q: When I complete the Long-Tail Cast On, turn, and begin to work the first row, the purled side of the cast on is facing me. Is there a way for the knit side to be facing me on that first row?
A: Yes, there's a purled variation on the Long-Tail Cast On.
PURLED LONG-TAIL CAST ON
While you're working this cast on, the purl side will be facing you. When you turn to work the first row after the cast on, the knit side will be facing you.
Get Ready: Prepare exactly as for the standard Long-Tail Cast On, but put the long tail over your index finger instead of your thumb.
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Insert the needle up through the loop around your index finger from the back.
2. Bring the needle under the strand on your thumb and wrap the yarn.
3. Bring the needle back out through the index finger loop.
4. Let the loop slide off your finger.
5. Tighten the strand on your index finger.
Repeat these five steps until there are enough stitches. The slip knot counts as the first stitch.
All about Casting On
Q: What's the easiest cast on?
A: Most people consider the Loop Cast On the easiest to learn; however, once you're comfortable with other cast ons, they are just as easy to use.
Q: What's the fastest cast on?
A: The Long-Tail Cast On beats all the rest. Not only can you do it very quickly, but when you're done, you've already knit the first row.
Q: Is there a way to cast on without measuring out a long tail?
A: You can always use one of the methods that doesn't require the tail. If you prefer the Long-Tail Cast On, however, try this option: Hold the beginning of two balls of yarn together when you make your slip knot. Use one strand for the working yarn and the other for the long tail. Don't include the slip knot in your stitch count. After you finish casting on, cut off the ball you used for the long tail, leaving an end to weave in later. When you've knit to the end of the first row, unravel the double slip knot.
Q: After casting on, am I now on the right side or the wrong side?
A: It depends! The "right" side is simply the side that you like the best. The "wrong" side is the side you don't like as well. Even if you always use the same cast on, your decision may change depending on what you're making and what pattern stitch you're using. Also keep in mind that the Long-Tail Cast On is the equivalent of casting on using the Loop Cast On and then knitting the first row. If you are working in a pattern where the right-side rows are knit and the wrong-side rows are purled, you will probably want to treat the Long-Tail Cast On as a knitted row, so the following row is the "wrong" side.
Q: My pattern instructions say to cast on stitches at the beginning of the next row. How do I do this?
A: Hold the knitting in your left hand, ready to begin the next row. The working yarn will be hanging ready at the beginning of the row. Use it to work one of the single-strand cast ons. Choose the Loop Cast On or the Knitted Cast On if you want the edge to be stretchy. The Cable Cast On is a better choice if you want a firm edge. To prevent curling, use the Ribbed Cable Cast On.
Q: What is the best cast on for sweaters?
A: For the bottom edge of sweater bodies and sleeves, use the Long-Tail Cast On because it stretches, keeps its shape, and wears well. The Cable Cast On wears well but is not as stretchy. If you like the way it looks, you can use it for sweaters, as long as you work loosely or use a larger needle while casting on. If you plan on working in K1, P1 ribbing, the stretchier Ribbed Cable Cast On is a good choice.
For cardigans that begin at the neck and are worked down, use the firmer Cable Cast On. It will support the neck edge and prevent stretching. For a neck-down pullover, use the Long-Tail Cast On or the Ribbed Cable Cast On. The upper edge should stretch just enough to go easily over the wearer's head but be firm enough that the neckline doesn't sag.
Q: What is the best cast on for shawls?
A: Shawls vary a great deal in fabric and construction, so there are several answers to this question. If it is a lace shawl, you may want to try the Lace Cast On. If it's made from a solid fabric, then it will need a flexible cast on — one that drapes nicely and doesn't pull the fabric in. A good choice is the Long-Tail Cast On.
Q: What is the best cast on for scarves?
A: Almost any cast on that is flexible and stretchy is good for scarves. Avoid the Cable Cast On, which tends to be too tight.
Q: What's the best cast on for K1, P1 ribbing?
A: For a firmer edge, use the Ribbed Cable Cast On. For a looser edge, use the Tubular Cast On.
Q: What's the best cast on for wider ribbing?
A: For a cast on that matches K2, P2; K3, P3, or any other ribbed combination of knits and purls, work a variation of the Long-Tail Cast On by alternating the standard knitted Long-Tail Cast On with the Purled Long-Tail Cast On to match the pattern of your ribbing. For example, if you are beginning a piece of K3, P3 ribbing, cast on 3 using the Long-Tail Cast On, then (without making any changes to the position of the working yarn or the tail in your left hand) cast on 3 using the Purled Long-Tail Cast On. Continue alternating between the two until you have the required number of stitches. You will need to allow a longer tail because the purled stitches will use up more of the tail than the knitted stitches.
Q: Is there a more durable cast on I can use for children's clothes?
A: Using extra strands of yarn at the edges of children's clothing can help the garments wear better. If you choose the Loop or Backward Loop Cast On, use two or more strands of yarn while casting on, then switch to one strand. If you use a Long-Tail Cast On, add a second long tail, as follows.
DOUBLED LONG-TAIL CAST ON
Get ready: Measure out your long tail using two balls of yarn. Tie both strands of yarn into a slip knot and place it on the needle. Cut the yarn going to the second ball, leaving a tail 6" long.
How to do it: Cast on as described for Long-Tail Cast On with two strands around your thumb, but the usual one strand around your index finger.
Variations: For more durability or a decorative effect, you can use several strands of yarn for the long tail. To avoid wasting yarn, use a separate ball for each strand and cut them off when the cast on is completed.
Note:Don't include the slip knot in your stitch count. When you get to the end of the first row, unravel the slip knot.
Excerpted from "The Knitting Answer Book"
Copyright © 2015 Margaret Radcliffe.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
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