Saturday, September 21, 2013

Painless Provisional Cast On - Part II

Last time, I covered my favorite way to start a provisional cast on. Today, I'll go over getting the stitches from the cast on live and workable, and how to graft the ends together.

Make sure your last row was a wrong side row. Leave your stitches on their needle. Now, let's examine the cast on edge. With the right (knit)side facing, push back that little chain of waste yarn. You can see the live stitches peeking out:

                                     Take a double pointed or circular needle, and insert the tip
                                                    through the right leg of each stitch.
You are going to end up with one less stitch than you cast on. This is that inevitability I mentioned. No matter what you do, this is how it will be. This is immutable knitting physics. Sure, you could cast on an extra stitch at the beginning, work it just once, drop it off your needle and save it for later. Or you can try to fudge it by tucking the tail of your working yarn into the edge. Unfortunately, either technique will throw your graft off, and actually wind up looking weirder. For now, accept your fate.

When you have picked up each stitch, you should have something that looks like this:
       The end of your provisional chain is on the same side as the tail of your main yarn.
                                         Pull this end of the waste yarn out of the chain, thus:
     The chain should zip right out, or at least come undone with a little tugging.
                                       You now have two sets of live, untwisted stitches.
                                       Your cast on edge, with it's one less stitch:
You might notice something peculiar about this edge. Right where the garter and stockinette meet? That's right - it looks like everything is shifted half a stitch! This is because we're picking up the stitches from their bottoms instead of their tops, which means that what we're really dealing with is the part of the stitch that falls between, linking the stitches together. This is why one less stitch.
Since this post is so photo heavy, let's tackle that graft behind the jump...


Fold your piece in half with the wrong sides together and line up your needles with the ending edge (that's the needle with one more stitch) facing you.
Thread your grafting yarn through a tapestry needle, and kitchener stitch, as follows.


Set-up: move the needle purlwise through the first stitch on the needle closest to you. Pull the yarn through but leave the stitch on the needle. Go through the first stitch on the back needle knitwise and leave the stitch on the needle.
Step 1: Go through the first stitch on the front needle again, this time knitwise, and slip the stitch off the needle. Go through the next stitch on the front needle purlwise, and leave on the needle.











Step 2: Go through the first stitch on the back needle again, this time purlwise, and slip the stitch off the needle. Go through the next stitch on the back needle knitwise, and leave on needle.











Repeat Step 1 & 2 until you have two unworked stitches on the needle closest you (you'll be in the middle of Step 1). Time to trick those pesky knitting physics. Thread the needle purlwise through both stitches, and leave them on the needle.
Work Step 2. Thread the needle knitwise through both stitches, and slip them off the needle. Thread needle purlwise through last stitch on back needle and slip it off. Done! Almost...

I've left my join deliberately sloppy. Once, many years ago, another knitter mentioned that she'd never met a kitchener stitch that didn't need to be tightened up, and it blew my mind completely. I always assumed I just sucked at grafting. If you, too, fret over a less than perfect graft - fear not! It is totally normal to have to give it a little attention. Just take your needle and carefully pull the slack up, working from start to finish.









                 Now it's perfect!
Seamless, and even with the contrasting yarn, you can barely see where the stitches don't quite line up.

Next time, I'll go over using a provisional cast on in combination with a garter tab, as used by so many beautiful shawl patterns. See you then!



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