Friday, July 20, 2012

A bevy of cast-ons and bind-offs

Pop quiz! Name as many cast-ons and bind-offs as you can. GO!

All I could come up with are: two long-tail cast-ons and that regular bind-off, you know the one, where you slip one stitch over another like with a potholder loom.

Leslie Ann Bestor beats me by a mile. In Cast On, Bind Off, her new book from Storey Publishing, Leslie presents 54 methods for both beginning and ending any knitting project. She provides a variety of cast-ons and bind-offs, including all-purpose, ribbing, super-stretchy, decorative, hems, and more. Every technique comes with step-by-step instructions with photos.

I love the book's design. This terrifically handy little volume fits into even the most crowded knitting basket. The wirebound binding folds open, making it easy to follow the instructions without having to hold open the book, too. The tables of contents are on the inside front and back covers - what a great idea! - so that you can easily find the cast-on or -off of your choice.

My favorite technique is the Old Norwegian Cast-On, which Leslie Ann includes in the book. She says, "This cast on, is a variation of the Long-Tail Cast On... however, much more elastic, making it suitable for socks and other pieces that need a very stretchy edge. After years of using the Long-Tail as my go-to cast on, I discovered the Old Norwegian, and it became my new best friend. I love the extra elasticity it adds, without losing any neatness." Her instructions follow:
  1. Make a slip knot, leaving a long tail. Place it on a needle and hold yarn in the slingshot position.
  2. Insert the needle tip under both strands of the tail yarn on your thumb.
  3. Come over the top and down into the thumb loop, coming out underneath the strand that is in front of your thumb.
  4. Bend your left thumb toward the index finger and reach over the top of the strand on your index finger. The loop on your thumb now has an X in it.
  5. Bring the needle tip through the bottom half of the X (nearest the needle), grab the index finger yarn to make your new stitch, drop the thumb loop, and tighten stitch. 
  6. Repeat steps 2–5 for the desired number of stitches.
Like I said, this is my go-to cast-on. Give it a try - I think you'll love it. In fact, give Cast On, Bind Off a try, too. It's an invaluable reference for any knitter.


  1. I usually do the long tail CO.

    But my favorite is the cable cast on.Not always suitable for ribbing etc, though.
    Least favorite?..the gives me a huge running thread as I go along.

    Last year I saw a video on you tube on the rib ( a long tail)cast on. I can't remember it off hand, but it gave me a great rib with knitted cast on stitches for the k's and purled cast on sts for the p's rather than all knitted cast on sts for the entire ribbing.

    I will give the Norwegian method a try soon.
    Thanks for this post. t_a

  2. ps..I am posting the link for that rib cast on using 2 needles..much easier than the long tail way of doing it.
    see Berroco's video here:

    Oh! and that pot holder loom photo brought back memories! I remember making those in the summer and listening to oldies when I was a wee bairn! (and making gimp keychains too) I think I will put on my oldies cd's today....the Platters, the Diamonds, Frankie Avalon, Connie Stevens,Neil Sadaka..yep I am no spring chicken! THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES! lol t_a

  3. I usually use the knitted cast on so easy, though I have started trying to use the long tail as I have noticed it gives a sturdy edge. thanks for the chance. :-)
    I'm knittedhat on ravelry

  4. Just discovered your blog while stalking the book contest. I am stuck on long tail cast on and standard bind off. This book would definitely be useful for me! thanks!

  5. Thanks for the info, Julie! Sounds like a book I need to add to my library. I'm always going to utube because I forget the specific methods for the cast on or bind off I need.
    Horay, the answer to the problem!

  6. This book sounds wonderful. Thanks for the review.

  7. i also love the potholder loom pic...memories for me too...i'm amazed you can still purchase them ...i'm gonna have to get that book...too invaluable not to have!

  8. I saw this book at the LYS and only quickly paged thru it - maybe this is a "must buy"?

  9. That's actually the only cast on I know right now! I just started knitting a few months ago and this book would be fantastic to have. I'll have to pick it up one of these days!

  10. I use that cast on all the time. I adore it. My favorite bind off right now is Jenny's super stretchy bind off - but then I make alot of pairs of socks. g

  11. i must admit i have been stalking as well. only thanks to this wonderful book that i would love to have i have actually realized that i actually know the names of 8 cast on and 7 bind offs. i will admit that i have not tried all of them but i hope to if i win the book. thanks for the chance to win

  12. Oh, this is definitely one of the ones I have really, really, really been wanting to try. Stuck on long-tail for the last couple of years, and ready for an 'affair'.

  13. I really like the tubular cast on for mittens and hats as it really is very elastic, now do not try the italian version, cause its a mess and a half and you get the same thing in the end, the only difference is the traditional tubular cast on requires a bit of waste yarn at the beginning - well worth the loss in my opinion, and we all have a little bit of something leftover, right?
    ... sing me up for the drawing, Jules


    1. sorry for the spelling, meant *sign*