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Saturday, 13 June 2015

TUTORIAL - 3 Ways To Cast Off

The final few centimetres of knitting always seem to take longer than the rest of the project put together don't they? Like staggering over the line having run a marathon, or losing those last 2 stubborn pounds to reach your target weight - the end in sight but needing one last push to achieve ultimate satisfaction!

We knitters know, that finishing one project often means beginning another that is likely very similar to the one we've just completed - that familiar combination of knit and purl, rows or rounds, increasing and decreasing. Nevertheless, beginning and ending projects is always momentous and that final act of casting or binding off is another area that bears some careful consideration.

Like casting on, there are multiple ways of casting off - each with attributes suitable for particular garments, stitch types or decoration. If your pattern hasn't stipulated what type of cast off to use, it's worth having a few techniques in your Knitters Arsenal with which you are familiar enough to select and create the perfect edge.

The most common cast off is the Standard Knitted Cast Off which uses the knit 2 sts, pass the first st over the second method to securely fasten off all the live stitches. It's important to keep this final row fairly loose so that you don't end up with a tight, drawn-in edging that won't fit over a head, hand or ankle! It's difficult to say just how loose these stitches should be, but as you get more familiar with casting off you will get a 'feel' for it without casting off so loosely that you end up with a flared edge.

Standard Knitted Cast Off

1) Begin by knitting 2 stitches. Next lift the first stitch (this is the one nearest to your hand holding the needle) on your right needle over the second (this is the one nearest to the pointed end of your needle). Don't pull tightly! Knit another stitch from the left needle onto your right so that you again have 2 stitches on your right needle and repeat the lifting first stitch over the second. Continue to end. To secure the very last stitch after all other stitches have been cast off, cut your yarn leaving a tail of 10cms and pull this end through the loop.

2) The picture on the left shows the cast off completed with each stitch knitted. On a ribbed edge you may prefer to knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches as you come to them - the picture on the right shows how this looks.

Some knitters find that the Standard Cast Off really doesn't give enough elasticity to their finished edge and so the Decrease Cast Off is a great alternative - just as simple to execute but resulting in a much more stretchy edge. It's perfect for the top ribbed edge of socks, or roll neck sweaters, cuffs and ribbed welts. As an extra tip, if you know that you are a tight knitter and whatever type of cast off you use tends to be rather tight, then go up a couple of needle sizes - it will force more yarn into the stitches and so create a more elastic edge.

Decrease Cast Off

1) The Decrease Cast Off works by knitting 2 stitches together and then passing this stitch back to the left needle in order to knit it together with the next stitch and so on. When you come to the last stitch, cut the yarn and pull through the last loop.

2) You can choose to knit the 2 stitches together through the back of the loop or through the front - each gives a different look to the finished edge. The picture on the left shows the stitches knitted through the back and the right shows them knitted through the front.

One of my favourite cast off methods is Elizabeth Zimmerman's Sewn Bind Off which creates a beautifully neat and stretchy edge that is incredibly versatile and can be used to finish almost any garment or accessory. I've found it particularly useful on the top edge of fingerless mitts as it gives just enough stretch to get them on, but is also nice and stable so that the edge holds its shape. This method uses a tapestry needle - as the name suggests, it is a sewn edge - but remember that you will need to cut your yarn at least 3 times the length of the edge you want to cast off.

Elizabeth Zimmerman's Sewn Bind Off

1) Cut the yarn 3 times longer than the length of the edge you want to cast off and thread onto a darning needle. For the first step, put the needle purlwise through the first 2 stitches on the needle.

2) You can see the yarn holding these 2 stitches still on the knitting needle. Next put the darning needle knitwise back into the first stitch and lift this off the knitting needle.

3) In the left hand picture you can see the stitch just lifted off at the beginning of your cast off edge. Carry on in this way, putting the darning needle purlwise through the first 2 stitches on your knitting needle, and then the needle back knitwise into the first stitch and lifting it off until you come to the end.

4) You can see the cast off edge clearly and just how stretchy it is in the right hand picture!

As ever, there are many more cast off methods than I can mention here and it's worth doing some research to find some of the more obscure ones. Youtube will show you how to work a Tubular Bind Off to match your Tubular Cast On to create the ultimate, invisible professional edge, a Suspended Bind Off, various Picot Cast Offs to make the edge a little prettier or an Invisible Ribbed Bind Off as well as a plethora of others. Which one you choose, is up to you!
(written by Max, posted by Katarina)

1 comment:

  1. How informative. The sewn bind off intrigues me as I normally do the first bind off when I am finishing a project which can sometimes end up a bit tight for me, or otherwise makes me realise that I should have had more stitches to cast off so it doesnt pull in so much. The second bind off has a nice finish too, might have to try that one out as well.