Casting on is as important an element of your knitting as any other. An uneven or badly tensioned cast-on will result in an obvious and permanent imperfection and so care and attention is paramount in the making.
There are a variety of different types of cast-on and many knitters tend to use a personal favourite for general work. When the method is not specified in the pattern instructions then a favourite one is fine, but it must be an appropriate method for the type of knitting and for the project.
In the following videos you will see me demonstrating each of the cast-on methods I use in all of my work.
The Knit Cast-on
The Knit Cast-on produces a light and very elastic edge and so it is ideal for any work that needs to stretch out along the edge, such as openwork and lace knitting. It is also an ideal cast-on from which to knit up stitches, as a single loop is formed at the edge for every stitch that is cast-on.
There are occasions when the type of cast-on is crucial to the outcome. The feathered collars are a case in point. The long feathers are designed to stretch considerably after knitting so that they become light and airy. This can only be achieved by working a Knit Cast-on along the outer edge of each feather and so the concept of the feathered collars could only become a reality through the elasticity and almost invisible nature of the cast-on method I used.
The Long Tail Cast-on
The Long Tail Cast-on is an excellent general pupose method. It produces a strong edge which holds its shape well. It is my favourite cast-on for textured and cabled garments that are worked in flat pieces.
The Cable Edge Cast-on
The Cable Edge Cast-on is also a great general purpose method. It produces a strong, discreet edge and it is ideal for stranded garments worked in the round. It also works perfectly for textured garments worked as flat pieces.
The Channel Islands Cast-on
The Channel Islands Cast-on produces a very strong edge which can withstand a high degree of wear and tear. It is also highly defined and decorative and works best when edging a knit one, purl one rib. It is tricky to start out and takes a bit of practice to perfect, but there are times when something complex is worth taking time and effort over. You can see it here where I used it on the lower edge of my Eriskay gansey. It is photographed after thirty-two years of use and so it can be safely said to have lasted the test of time and wear – well worth the half-hour or so it took to cast on all those years ago.