Following up on last Wednesday’s post on looped cast-ons, today I’ll blunder through the family of knitted-on cast ons. Reference books not detailed below are listed in the original post.

There are dozens and dozens of cast ons. I know I haven’t gotten you your particular favorite yet. Eventually I hope to cover as many as I can find. Why bother?? Because it’s always nice to have options, to find new ways to do things and in doing so – to find out that some might just be a tad better than others in a specific use case. To someone who only owns a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To someone with a whole toolbox at their disposal, the hammer might not always be exactly what’s needed.

I’ll keep posting these. For the ones that are well illustrated or easy to describe, I’ll forgo illustrations, presenting instead these reference links. When I get to some of the less widely seen (or harder to describe) styles, I’ll begin adding my own illustrations. But we’re still well within the Known World here, so please forgive the lack of pix.

Simple Knit-On Cast On

This is a very popular cast on, although it’s more often taught outside the US. It’s often taught to children learning in large class situations. I know several knitters who learned to knit as small children in schools as far flung as Hong Kong, Brasilia, and Bangalore, all of whom report this as the first cast on they were taught.

Knitting on produces a neat, even edge that’s less elastic and more robust than that produced by the half-hitch cast-on. It can be worked either as the foundation for an entire piece, or as a method of adding stitches at the end or in the middle of a row. It’s not uncommon for example to find a scrap of knitting on (or a sister technique) forming the top edge of a buttonhole.

Advantages:? No need to measure out long tail lengths. Easy to teach absolute beginners. Miller in Heirloom Knitting mentions the utility of this simple cast on for lace (she uses half-hitch and invisible cast ons, too), citing the edge construction as being suitable for going back later and picking up or attaching additional stitches.

Disadvantages:? Not as stretchy as some cast-ons, but stretchy enough for most uses, even lace. The front and back have a different appearance. Some people don’t like the look of one or the other, and add a row to their pattern to make sure that the preferred side is visible when the garment is finished.

On line references: (a little hard to follow)

Book references:
DMC Encyclopedia, Fig. 419
Vogue p. 26
Bantam, p. 17
Miller, Heirloom Knitting, p. 33

Cable Cast On

The cable cast on is very closely related to plain old knitting on. The difference is in the formation of the new loops. In knitting on, the needle is inserted in a stitch in the normal fashion, and the new loop is pulled through the old stitch and placed on the end of the left hand needle. In cabling on, the new loop is formed in the space between the last stitch cast on and the one before it. (The first stitch in a cable cast-on is always a plain on knit on stitch because at the outset there aren’t two loops on the needle in between which one can pick up that new stitch).

Advantages:? No need to calculate tail lengths. Very firm stitch with a pronounced decorative edge. One of the least stretchy cast-ons. Excellent for cuffs, hems, but less useful for necklines, sock tops and other high-stretch scenarios. Very good choice for cottons or other less-elastic yarns that have a tendency to stretch out (and stay stretched) with wear. Makes excellent, long-wearing buttonholes.

Disadvantages:? Stretch (see above). Like knitting on, this has two very different sides visually. Some people add or subtract a row from their pattern to make sure that the preferred side ends up on the front of the work.

On-line sources:

Book references:
Stanfield, p. 16
Vogue, p. 26
Bantam, p. 17

Alternate Cable Cast On

I’ve only seen this one detailed in Vogue. It’s a variant of the standard cable cast-on, made even firmer by working the cast-on row’s stitches through the back, rather than through the front of the piece. I haven’t tried it myself, so I can only report the book’s assertion that this method creates a firm edge. Also, from the accompanying illustration, it has a much less defined "edge spine" running across the bottom edge. People wishing to avoid that visual edge at the bottom of ribbing may want to experiment with this method.

Book reference:
Vogue, p. 26.

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