So, you’ve decided to take up knitting! Congratulations! This guide will give you some basic resources and tips to get you started with knitting, focusing on that essential first step of casting on. But, first, here are a couple of facts about knitting’s history that may make you appreciate this new hobby more.
While many worldwide associate knitting with the Scottish and Irish isles, thanks to the Egyptians amazing ability to preserve things through their burial practices, we have evidence of knitting as far back as around the 5th century. Interestingly, in France during the 1500s, knitting was seen as a profession for men only, and no women were permitted into the knitting guilds. Fortunately, anyone can learn how to start knitting, and this article will point you in the direction of some basics to make your learning curve easier.
What You’ll Need to Start Knitting
Here’s what you need to start:
- One or two pair of knitting needles (look for medium-sized needles, around US 7-8 (4.5 to 5 mm to start, and a shorter length of 10”)
- A pair of scissors
Additional items you might want later to create an essential knitting kit include:
- A tapestry or yarn needle
- A measuring tape
- Needle protectors
- Stitch markers
- A stitch counter
- A crochet hook for fixing snags
Many knitters also recommend a notebook for recording details about the yarn, noting where you last left off, sketching ideas, etc.
How to Cast On in Knitting
If you are new to the art of knitting, you will first learn how to cast on. Casting on basically means putting stitches on the needle so you can build additional stitches onto them. When you cast on knitting stitches, you’re building a base for the next step in knitting, which usually becomes the edge of whatever you’re knitting.
There are hundreds of ways to cast on knitting stitches, but below is a list of some of the most common ones that are favored for beginners, along with the reasons for choosing each one and a resource to see how to do it.
- The long-tail cast on: Produces an edge that’s stretchy and neat but not too loose. When you’re starting to learn this method, remember to leave a 6-9” tail when you tie the initial slip knot. Try this video by Sheep & Stitch.
- The single cast on: Easy to learn, can be done relatively quickly. A quick video shows you how.
- The knitted cast on: Creates a stretchy cast on, is easy to do, and gets you knitting right off! You need to use two needles for this method of casting on. You can view a video on it here, and also click over to a blog post for an explanation below the video.
Solving Casting On Knitting Problems
When you’re new to a craft, there’s nothing more frustrating than encountering a problem over and over again and having no one around to ask about it. We’ve anticipated some of the issues you might run into and offer some solutions for them.
Your knitted cast on is too tight.
This sometimes happens with the long-tail cast on. You can try a looser cast-on method, like the knitted cast on, or try creating a looser foundation row of stitches by using two needles held together to double the size of the stitches. You can also try a larger needle for your cast-on needle, switching back to the matching needle when you start to knit.
You build up too much slack of yarn between your knitting needles.
The slack in your work will often even out as you make your next stitch. Remember to pull the slack in the yarn tighter as you make your stitches. Try pushing your stitches towards the tip of the supporting needle before working back into them to reduce the space between your needles. You may also want to try switching to a long-tail cast on if you’re not using it.
Your beginning knitting looks messy and uneven.
This is not just a knitting casting on problem but more of a knitting newbie issue. When you first start knitting, some of your stitches will be tight and others looser, which will cause an uneven look in your knitting. As you learn a consistent, comfortable way to hold your yarn, you will develop even tension, and your knitting will improve.
Knitting Cast On Tips
- Start by knitting a small trial piece or two before tackling an actual keeper project.
- When you create your cast on row, keep in mind you need to have the stitches loose enough that you’ll be able to knit back into them. You don’t want them so tight that they’re “choking” the needle.
- Experiment with at least two different ways for how to cast on stitches before adopting one as your go-to method.
- Be flexible and open to new ways of casting on. Often a pattern will call for a particular type of casting on. Remember, casting on in knitting generally will be determined by the desired edge of a finished project. If you are knitting a sock, for example, you may be instructed to start with an elastic cast on. Another good stretchy cast on for socks and other items that need a lot of give on the border is the German cast on.
Takeaways From Your Casting On Knitting Debut
One of the nice things about knitting is it’s a hobby that transcends barriers of age, class, and culture. You may find this new pastime opens doors to welcoming communities of other knitters, either virtually or in your neighborhood. Perhaps before too long, you’ll be showing others how to perform an easy cast on method of your own.