Thursday, September 12, 2013

Painless Provisional Cast On - Part I

The provisional cast on method is everywhere these days. Just check out all these beauties a quick Rav search brings up. It's an invaluable tool for very particular situations - sort of the allen wrench in your toolbox. Generally, you'll be asked to use it when you knit something sideways, and want to join the ends seamlessly. It basically gives you a set of "live" stitches as a cast on, held by waste yarn which can be removed easily when the stitches are ready to do their thing. It's a little fiddly, and can be a bit daunting if you haven't done it before. I thought I'd share my favorite method for a provisional cast on, with some tips and lots of photos to make it as pleasant as possible.

First, grab your supplies:

-Knitting needles; I just used dpns, but use whatever you're going to use
  for your project.
-Crochet hook; while the size isn't important, it will be easiest if it is close to the millimeter size of your needles. You don't need to know how to crochet to do this, so don't worry if you're not bi-craftual.
-Waste yarn; this can be anything - smooth cotton in a strong
  contrast color works best.
-Working yarn; that is, the yarn you will be knitting with to start your project.

OK, let's go!

                                With waste yarn, make a slip knot and tighten it on your hook.
                                   Hold one needle, point up, along the left side of your hook.
                                     Make sure your knot sits on the right side of your hook.
                          Bring the yarn under the needle and hook, right to left, then over the top.
                             Pull the yarn through the loop on your hook and snug everything up.
                    Keep going, looping your yarn under the needle right to left, over the top, and
                       through the loop on your hook. Don't worry if your tension isn't perfect.
                               When you have the number of stitches needed for your cast on,
                           cut your waste yarn and pull the tail through the loop on your hook.
                                                   Knit one row with your working yarn.
                   Now, take a close look at your work. You will notice that you have a knit side:
                                                                     And a purl side:
                           Make sure you start with the first wrong side row of your pattern.

Next time, I'll cover getting those stitches back onto a needle and you'll see how smoothly that little chain pulls out. And together, we shall confront one of life's little inevitabilities, and handle it gracefully.
Until then, keep those hands busy!

Painless Provisional Cast On Part II

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