Sunday, February 21, 2016

How do I cast on? Let me count the ways.

Think back to the time you learned to knit. Who struggled with the cast on? 
(Everyone can raise a hand now.)

The cast on can be difficult for beginner knitters. 

The cast on is tough: Make a loop on one needle. And slip it onto the opposing needle without dropping anything or messing anything up. And don’t pull the loops too tight. And don’t knit too close to the point of your needle. Remember to breathe. And...stop frowning. Got it?

Although the cast on can be tricky, it does yield a lot of opportunity for customization. The knitter gets to choose what type of cast on to use. Lots of seasoned knitters have a favorite cast on or preferred style. A particular type of scarf may be better with a strong cast on, such as the longtail. A cabling piece needs a cable cast on. Check out this article for some clearly-explained details. (Somewhere, I imagine there must be an article with a title like “What your favorite cast on says about you.”)

I became curious about cast-on techniques when a knitter I recently talked to told me that she had a favorite cast on practice. I always cast on using the same technique and had not thought about the differences a cast on could make in the finished piece.
Different cast on methods can lead to stylistic variation. What's your favorite?

So how about the math?

Sometimes, knitters talk about the math involved in the cast on. For example, consider one knitter who has a true love for the long tail method. She talks about these ideas in  The Mathematics of Long Tail Cast On. One commonly accepted rule of casting on is to make a tail that is the three times the width of the knitting and add a few inches.


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