I distinctly recall that I just couldn’t get the hang of knitting for ages for one reason. Long-tail cast on. Like so many knitters, I was learning from my Mother. And she patiently, and as the years progressed, less patiently, showed me time and time again. I just didn’t get it. And there is a lesson there for all of us – most knitters know and use one cast on and one cast off their entire life. It didn’t occur to me that there was any other way to cast on, and I don’t presume my Grandmother or my Mother knew another way either.
Some years after she gave up on me, I did manage to work it out for myself. And a while later, I had an epiphany. There were many, many different ways to cast on – one to match your exact project. I’ve now added a few more cast ons to my knitting vocabulary.
There are the Basic, Stretchy, Decorative, Circular, Double-Sided, Multicolour, Provisional, Tubular and even the Mobius cast on. My head was spinning the more I researched.
If you’re like me and you’re planning your coming Autumn and Winter knits, the Tubular cast on is a good one to learn. It’s very stretchy, so it’s useful for socks, mittens, gloves, and hats. It’s also the perfect beginning for ribbing, which it mimics. The edge looks rolled over; it appears to have no real beginning, so it’s very attractive on hats and cuffs of all sorts. This cast-on is aptly named, because it forms a tube as it’s knitted. The knits stay in front and the purls go to the back. You achieve this by alternately knitting and slipping each stitch, creating two layers of fabric. Be aware that the edge may flare undesirably if it’s worked in bulky yarn, so you might need to go down a needle size when casting on.
It’s worth searching out the instructional videos widely available to show you how to cast on in different ways. There is also a fantastic book called “Cast On Bind Off” by Leslie Ann Bestor which shows you step by step instructions for no less than 33 cast ons AND 21 cast offs. It is a beautiful little book with a spiral binding (lays flat on any page), with clear photos and explanations. A real gem of a book.
Each time I cast on a new project, I have promised to start with a cast-on specific for the purpose!
And before I go – thank you to all the new readers and your comments about the Make-a-Monster competition. I look forward to your entries!