For the longest time, I had trouble knitting socks. I’d cast on and the cast-on row was much tighter than the rest of the leg. Which meant I either had socks that fit in the leg and were too tight at the top cuff or the top fit and the rest of the leg was too loose. Nothing worked. That is until I knit my first pair of toe-up socks and discovered this elastic bind-off. It was perfect! The leg fit me right and the bind-off was elastic enough. So of course I thought I’d just have to get used to knitting toe-up socks.
Almost immediately I found a traditional cuff down sock I really wanted to try. One I really needed to knit following the pattern before I tried it toe-up. I searched and could not find a cast-on that was elastic enough. In frustration, I put the pattern aside and started another project. A scarf. One with a lace pattern knit starting in the center, with a provisional cast-on and that’s when I had my “A-ha!” moment.
A provisional cast-on enabled me to knit the sock from the cuff down, remove the provisional row picking up the “live stitches” and use the elastic bind-off. It worked! And quickly became my favorite cast-on for traditional socks.
Provisional cast-ons are used for a variety of projects including:
- A toe-up sock cast-on.
- Knitting from the middle out to the ends. This works especially well with a one-way design such as a cable or some lace patterns as in the scarf I knit. It also works well for patterns closed at both ends, such as knitting a ball.
- If you start a project but want to decided how the end will look later. One example is knitting a pair of socks, but you’re not sure how you want the cuffs to look. Knit the socks, and decide at the end.
- If you’re not sure you have enough yarn for a project. If you start a pair of socks above the ankle and knit the feet, you can then go back and knit the legs deciding on length. Or even changing to another yarn at the same place.
Wondering how to cast-on provisionally? This video shows you three techniques. They all work and help you knit happy!
One of my favorite stitch combos is the Basket-weave Stitch. I couldn’t believe that something so pretty was SO simple! The Basket-weave Stitch is a great stitch to add a little extra flair to some of the more commonly knit objects, like scarves, and adds great texture without adding extra thickness.
All there is to the Basket-weave is switching between Garter Stitch and Stockinette Stitch.
To start the Basket-weave, you’ll want to Cast On in a multiple of 8 stitches (I suggest against a variegated yarn, as it can look a bit too busy. Some variegated yarns that are different shades and values of a single color can work, but you have to be careful.).
Row 2: Knit 4, Purl 4, Repeat until end of row.
Row 3: Knit all stitches.
Rows 5 and 7: repeat row 2
Rows 4, 6, and 8: knit all stitches.
Row 9: Purl 4, Knit 4 Repeat until end of row.
Row 10: Knit all stitches.
Rows 11, 13, and 15: Repeat row 9.
Rows 12, 14: Knit all stitches.
Row 16: Repeat Row 2.
Continue the repetition until your project is complete! Yes- it is that easy!
It may seem like an advanced move, but knitting in the round can be mastered by beginner knitters with ease. And by adding it to your knitting bag of tricks, you will open up an entirely new world – one of hats, sweaters, and socks!
Getting started with knitting in the round can seem tricky on the best of days, but with just a few tips and tricks you can be joining to work in the round in no time at all. When I began my circular needles journey, these four tips helped me immensely.
Trick #1 – Make sure your circular needle is shorter than your finished circumference. If you’re knitting a hat for a 20” head, grab 16” long circular needles. If you’re knitting a sweater for someone that’s 36” around, be sure you’re not using your 40” long needles. Seems self-explanatory, but I spent many frustrated hours fighting with needles that were just a bit too long for projects I was working on. When in doubt, go a bit shorter – you’ll never regret it!
Trick #2 – Cast on one extra stitch. When you join for working in the round, knit that last stitch you cast on together with the first stitch you cast on. You will have the correct number of cast on stitches, and you will have a much less noticeable join for your work.
Trick #3 – When casting on a large number of stitches, to ensure you don’t twist them (and create a Mobius on accident!) knit the first few rows of the pattern before joining. You’ll have a much clearer view of joining your stitches together, and you can use your tail to sew up that open spot later.
Trick #4 - Use a different color stitch marker to mark the beginning of the row. When you are using stitch markers to mark decreases, increases, pattern changes and the like be sure your “beginning of the row” marker is a different color, shape, or size. This will help you more easily distinguish it from your other markers.
With these four simple tips, you will find yourself knitting around and around before you know it! You can use this new-found skill to whip up some sweaters for all the folks in your life, hats to keep their noggins warm, and maybe even donate a few things to a local charity!
Ever decide you want to work your favorite texture pattern while you are working in the round? Well I did this past weekend. So off I go and cast on the necessary stitches and get started…first round looked great, second round, not-so-much. Now I knew in the back of my head that I should be converting something, I really hadn’t thought it through and the second row was all mucked up.
Rip and begin again. First row, fine. Second row, now what? Google!
Found a good website with detailed info on how to convert my pretty textured pattern to work in the round. Check it out on Knitting Daily.
The basics for converting to a knitting-in-the-round project:
- Don’t cast on the “extra” stitches your pattern might call for.
- You’ll only be working the stitches between the * and the semi-colon.
- If the pattern calls for a knit, then purl it. If it calls for a purl, then knit it.
So I grabbed my pattern and wrote out the instructions for the “wrong-side” rows.
Following the original pattern on right-side rows and my new conversions on the wrong-side rows, I jumped in again and my little knitting-in-the-round project is turning out beautifully!
Now I’m thinking of all the cute purses and sweater bodies and caps I could start creating!
I know from my experience and the experiences of knitters around me that color work has a lot of demons. All these fancy, demonic words, like Fair Isle and Intarsia can cloud a lot of really straightforward concepts. I know that even some veteran knitters don’t do color work, just because of how scary the prospect seems. Today, I just want to try to make it seem less scary. These tips are not advanced color knitting, just basic, beginner steps to the wonderful world of color.
Let’s start with my personal favorite, Fair Isle. Fair Isle knitting is not only beautiful to look at, but can be really fun to knit once you get the hang of it. It does require a little more concentration than knitting in one color, but the finished object will be well worth it. I started looking for videos on Youtube, like I always do when starting a new technique, but I soon discovered that no one was really explaining it well. Sure, they made it look impressive and flashy, but it’s difficult to see the technique through that. I’m going a step further, to show the process, rather than the flash.
When knitting in Fair Isle, you need to remember a few things. Firstly, you should always use the Stockinette Stitch when knitting Fair Isle. You will need a clear Right and Wrong side to your project. Secondly, you will need to remember that Fair Isle knitting should use no more than 3 colors, and, depending on yarn weight, only 2. Since the yarns are carried across the Wrong side, that side will become the back or inside of the object. If you have too many yarns carried across the back, the object will become heavy (and overly warm if it is a wearable object).
Before you cast on, you have to know how to read your pattern chart. This is very simple. Use the key on your pattern for less obvious marks, like you would on a map. If there is only a difference in color, and there are only two colors, there will not usually be any specific markings. You will need to reference your key for additional color and stitch information when necessary. Unless otherwise stated in your pattern, you should begin your chart in the bottom right corner. Reading from right to left, look at how your row is worked, taking note of both color and stitch changes. Go on to the next row, reading from left to right, noting the same information, and that’s all there is to it!
Now, cast on your project. Unless otherwise stated in your pattern, you will begin your chart on the row immediately following cast on. Follow your chart stitch by stitch. I have trouble sometimes remembering where I am on a chart, so I like to tick off every few stitches on my chart and sometimes, for short patterns, even right it out in numbers. For example:
“Row 4: knit 8 sts in white, 3 in black, 8 in white.
5:Purl 8 sts in white, 3 in black, 8 in white.
6:K6W, 7B, 6W.
7:P6W, 7B, 6W.”
“But how do you add the second color?” This is where most people get skittish. Do not cut the strand of yarn on the first color. When it comes time to add the second color, make sure you are on a WS row. Simply let go of the first color, take the second color, leave a short tail, and simply use the new strand to continue knitting or purling the row. That’s all there is to it! That’s not so hard, is it? Then, when you need the first color again, let go of the 2nd color and continue knitting with the 1st, carrying it along the WS. (Make sure you carry on the same side when doing the knit AND purl stitch.) It will come quite naturally once you get the hang of it.
Need something a little simpler? This next tip is just for you! Maybe you’re just looking to try some simple stripes, or even just starting a new ball of yarn. There are SO many different ways to do this- I’m about to tell you my favorite, and probably the most simple. Starting at the end of a row, leaving a short tail, snip off the first yarn. Make a slip-knot. (I like to do this by holding my left hand in front of me with my thumb up and index and middle fingers pointing to the right. Starting at the top, loop the yarn around your middle and index fingers once from back to front. Push the strand between your middle and index fingers inside the loop, pull off, and tighten. Voila, slip knot!) Slip the strand of the first yarn through the slip knot of the second yarn. Tighten. When tightening, make sure the knot goes all the way up to the needle, and that your new yarn is attached snugly.
Key points for Color Knitting;
- Pay good attention to the chart and pattern for color AND stitch information.
- Always make sure the new yarn is joined snugly.
- Always add new yarn on the WS.
- Be sure to weave in all ends. I like to make a small knot on the WS before weaving them in if the FO will be used a lot.
- Remember that color work is only as scary as you make it.
- It may take a few tries to get it right, so don’t be afraid to frog it. Just make sure the 2 colors don’t get tangled.
- When carrying a color, make sure the strand doesn’t have to go too far unsupported.
I hope this helps you! Be sure to email me at email@example.com if you have any additional questions!
Just learning to knit, and feel overwhelmed by patterns that tell you to do such things ask “kfb”, “m1” and more? I remember the feeling well – I still sometimes have it!
But have no fear, beginner knitters.
There are plenty of patterns that call for no more knitting knowledge than casting on, binding off, knitting and purling. And with those few skills under your belt, you can make many a knitted item – possibly something handmade for the holidays?!
From scarves to hats (yes, hats!), from baby items to those for adults, and even a few for your home – here’s some of my favorite ‘easy peasy’ patterns for you to try!
Entwined - this great pattern gives you a scarf and hand warmers all in one!
Rockstar Scarf – easy peasy, all knit stitch, this scarf gets it’s drama from the variety of yarns used.
Waffle Stitch Dishcloth – looks harder than it is! This dishcloth uses only knits and purls to give it a great texture.
The Squidge Cloth – another one where the pattern is all knits and purls, I use this dish cloth all the time!
Calorimetry – looks so much harder than it is. Short rows are a new skill to be sure, but again, just knits and purls and you’ve got a great cold-weather headband!
Drops Headband – another great headband, this time ribbed.
Flat Hat – this is a great go-to pattern for flat-knit hats. You just knit up a big square and gather the top, and you’ve got a hat! Perfect for donation hats!
Baby Surprise Jacket – really Robyn? Yes, really. This jacket is knit flat, with knits, purls and bind-offs and then suddenly? You have a jacket! (Ravelry link)
Baby Bib O’Love – from Mason-Dixon Knitting, this bib is the perfect gift for any baby shower. (Ravelry link)
In knitting the easiest way to cast on is the simple cast on or easy wrap. Discover different ways to cast on in knitting with tips from a knitting teacher in this video.
Pam Grushkin learned to knit at a young age and she now teaches knitting both independently and through yarn shops.