Search Engine Sunday: Casting On and Binding Off

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006
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In this series, I post the most popular search strings for my blog (minus the ones looking for “uruguay porn”) and answer the questions people seem to have when they get to my blog. Just my way of giving back to Google, and all you folks at home. You can read the whole series on this page, or subscribe to the RSS feed. Last time I talked about stitch markers and amigurumi, among other things.

There have been quite a few people getting to my site via questions about casting on and off, so that’s what I’ll be featuring this week. It’s incredible how much more professional a piece looks when it uses an appropriate cast-on; when I was knitting the Snowdrift Mittens for my aunt a few months ago, I was amazed by how a tubular cast-on transformed them. Compared to them, the other mittens I knitted looked painfully amateur; it was like my snowdrift mittens had been taken to a higher plane of mitten existence.

Before we get to the Search Questions, I want to start by offering links to tutorials for my very favourite cast-ons: The picot edge and the tubular cast-on. I guarantee you will not be disappointed by them. They’re actually incredibly easy to do, and such an ego boost when you try them for the first time and see what they’ve done to your finished product! I love adding little embellishments to patterns, and picot edging is perfect for top-down socks and shirt sleeves. Picot-edged garments are so cute, they could even be classified as “kawaii.”

So, on to the Q&A:

Search String #1: stretch cast off

I like this one because it forces me to actually go out and search for a stretchy cast off, which I’ve been putting off. This is the sort of thing that would work well for toe-up socks or sweater collars. It seems like the unanimous choice for a stretchy bind-off is Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Sewn Cast off:

Break yarn, leaving a tail about 4 times as long as the circumference of the sock. Thread a tapestry needle.
* sew forward (right to left) through two stitches as if to purl, leave the stitches on. Sew backward (left to right) through one stitch as if to knit and remove the stitch.
Repeat from * until you run out of stitches. Work in tail on the inside of the sock and trim any excess.

Denise’s variation for circular knitting:
For the very first stitch only, after you go backwards through it, do not remove it, instead move it to be the last stitch on the final needle. It will then become the final stitch to be cast off. This gives a neater finish to the end of the round.

A few other stretchy bind-offs can be found here.

Search String #2: german twisted cast on, adding

The German Twisted cast on is also called an Old Norwegian cast-on or a Twisted Half-Hitch cast-on. It’s really stretchy, prevents ribbing from curling and it’s great for socks. Here’s a great video tutorial (mpg), and some pictures.

Search String #3: “cast off” knitting diagram / knitting cast on diagram

There are quite a few sites that provide diagrams and illustrations to show you how to cast on and cast off. When I was learning, I went to knitting.about.com, but it was really difficult to figure out what on earth they were talking about. Then I discovered Knitting Help, and the marvelous wonder of videos! So here you go, Cast On and Bind Off in video!

For more information on casting on and binding off:

These last few links are untested, but hopefully I’ve provided enough information for you to go out and experiment. Now go off and cast on!

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