Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Getting Started Learning to Knit: The Cast On

The very first step in any knitting project, from the simplest scarf to the most intricate lacy shawl, is the cast on. Casting on is simply the way that you get stitches onto the needle so that you can start knitting.
There are many different ways to cast on, and different methods are useful for different kinds of projects. If you are new to knitting, though, there are two main types of cast on that are useful and easy to learn: the knitted cast on and long-tail cast on.
Before we get to those, however, we need to start at the very beginning -- with a slip knot

To make a slip knot, hold the yarn so that the tail of the yarn ball is hanging in front of your hand.
Wrap the yarn loosely behind your first two fingers of your left hand. The yarn should loop all the way around your fingers clockwise.
Take the part of the yarn that's attached to the ball and slip it back under the loop behind your fingers (shown below without a hand involved).
Then slide this off your fingers, pull to tighten slightly, and slip it over the needle.As shown in the pic

The most basic type of cast on is known as the knitted cast on, and it's a great one to learn because as soon as you know how to do it, you also know how to knit.
Start with the needle that your slip knot is on in your left hand, and the empty needle in your right. How you hold the needles is a matter of personal preference, but most people grip them lightly with all the fingers.
To begin the cast on, slide the right-hand needle into the loop on the left-hand needle, from front to back, as shown in the photo. This is known as "opening the loop" because you're piercing the loop and leaving it open for working a stitch.

The second step in performing the knitted cast on, exactly like the second step in knitting, is to loop the yarn that is attached to the ball over the point of the right-hand needle, going counter-clockwise.
Hold the yarn loosely in your right hand as you do this. Be careful not to loop the yarn over both needles, and don't pull too tightly or your stitches will be hard to work. Your loops should be tight enough to stay on the needle, but easy enough to slide the second needle through with ease.
This is a concept known as tension, and like anything in life, too much tension is bad. As you become a more experienced knitter, you'll learn what feels like the right amount of tension in your work.

Here's the only tricky part in mastering the knitted cast on and knitting in general. You need to slide the right-hand needle back out from behind the left-hand needle, while keeping the loop you just made on the right-hand needle and the slip knot on the left-hand needle.
Keep holding onto the yarn with your right hand so it doesn't get away from you. Slowly slide the right-hand needle down so the loop gets close to the tip of the needle, but does not slide off. At the same time the right-hand needle will be coming out from behind the left-hand needle.
When the right-hand needle just comes out from behind the left-hand needle, give the right needle a little push with your left index finger to push the needle in front of the left needle.

You're almost done! Now all you have to do is slide the loop that's on the right-hand needle onto the left-hand needle, above the slip knot loop.
Now you have two stitches. This isn't the way you finish a knit stitch, but all the other steps are the same, so once you get your cast on finished, you'll be ready to roll with the knit stitch.
To cast on the desired number of stitches, just keep repeating these steps until you have the required number of stitches on your needle.

Hooray you have learnt to cast on,casting on  stitches will depend on the project you are planning to knit.  More in my next post