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Knitting – Casting On Techniques
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When begins a knitting project, the first thing they must do in terms of executing the actual pattern is a step known as casting on. This is the step by way of which the knitter gets the first set of stitches onto the knitting needle or needles.

To review: depending on the project, a knitter will use either straight knitting needles with a point at one end and a cap at the other, a circular knitting needle that has points at either end connected through the middle of the needle with a wire cable [for older needles] or a plastic strand, or a set of four double-pointed “mitten” or “sock” needles. Either the circular needles or the double pointed type allow a knitter to work a pattern in a seamless way by continuing onto the next row [in this style of knitting called a “round” rather than a “row”] upon finishing each ‘line’ of the pattern.

However, whichever type of needle a knitter uses, she must get the first row or round of stitches onto the needles by the process called casting on. And there are different methods of doing this.

The simplest way to cast on knitting stitches onto a needle involves simply making a loop, a kind of slip knot, around the finger and placing the loop onto the needle. A knitter using this method will follow the pattern directions to place as many loops onto the needle as the pattern indicates as the number of stitches needed for the starting row. For example, if the pattern indicates the starting row should have forty eight stitches, the knitter will count out the finger loops she places onto the needle until she reaches forty eight loops.

The second method of casting on involves actually knitting the stitches, after the first stitch, onto the needle. In this method, the knitter loops the first stitch onto the needle in the same way as the first method. However, starting with the second stitch, the knitter places the tip of the second needle [or opposing point of a circular knitting needle] through the first loop stitch. The knitter then draws the yarn through the first stitch just as she would were she knitting a stitch in a later row of the knitted project. The knitter then slips this stitch onto the first needle or first side of the circular needle next to the second stitch. Again, the knitter continues inserting the second needle and knitting stitches onto the opposing needle or needle tip until the number of stitches for the starting row is reached. This method has somewhat more complication to it, but it also tends to give a more even look and feel to the initial row of the piece.

A third method uses a method similar to the basic knit-cast-on method. This method starts the same way as a simple knit-cast-on method for the first two stitches. Starting with the third stitch, however, the knitter in this method alternates where she knits up the subsequent stitches. For odd-numbered stitches, the knitter inserts the knitting tip of the circular knitting needle or the tip of the opposing straight knitting needle between the two previous stitches. For even numbered stitches, the knitter continues casting on by inserting the tip into the previous stitch to knit on the next stitch as with the simple knit-cast-on method. As with the simple knit-cast-on method, this method gives a more refined look to the starting row of the project. However, this method also gives a somewhat more closed-up edging to the starting edge: making it, for example, a good method to use when casting on at the cuff end of a sleeve. The alternating stitch knit cast on method gives almost a ribbed-style outcome for the starting row.

As with many knitted or crocheted projects, establishing a good foundation row contributes to the quality of the finished project. By having an understanding of different casting on techniques in knitting, you can choose the most appropriate technique for each different type of project you decide to work on.


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