Sunday, 21 September 2014

knitting: invisible cast on edge

The absolute best tip Granny ever taught me was how to do an invisible cast on edge for a rib pattern. It is fantastic. You can see it here on this beanie.  Or you can't see it, which is the point.
It is clearer on this one.

It is fantastic and I use it every time I start a single rib. It wasn't Granny's idea: she found it in a magazine, but which one, I don't know, unfortunately, as I would like to give credit where credit is due. But I suspect it's one of those things that has been passed down for ages and no-one knows whence it began. It is not difficult. You just need needles two sizes larger than you will use for the rib, and a small amount of a contrasting colour yarn. There is a trick, in step 7 below, but it is a trick, not tricky.  Here's how to do it.

invisible cast on edge

What you need (in addition to what is required by the pattern you are using)
  1. needles two sizes larger than those required for the rib
  2. yarn of a contrasting colour to the rib

What you do
  1. Work out the number of stitches to cast on: halve the number of stitches required by the pattern and go up to the next whole number (e.g. If the pattern requires 40, you'll need 21; if it requires 41, you'll also need 21).  
  2. Cast on that number of stitches using the larger needles and contrasting yarn.
  3. Change the yarn to the correct colour for the rib.
  4. Purl one row, still using the larger needles.
  5. Change to the correct needles for the rib.
  6. Knit one row, purl one row, knit one row.
  7. This row is the "trick" row or the "pick-up row".  Once you understand the trick, it is really easy.  You will alternate between purling a stitch from the needle and knitting a "pick-up" stitch.  The pick-up stitches are "picked-up" onto the left-hand needle from the first row made in the correct colour.  See the pictures below.  The stitches to be picked up are easy to see because of the contrasting colour of the cast-on row.  
  8. Remove the contrasting colour.
  9. Continue rib according to the pattern.
Note: You will always end up with an odd number of stitches and so it works best when an odd number is required.  When I need an even number of stitches, I will follow all these instructions and then knit or purl 2 together at the beginning or end of the next row (i.e. the first row in step 9).

Steps 1-6

This is what it looks like when steps 1-6 are complete and turned ready for the pick-up row.   The stitches to be picked up are the yellow loops you can see amid the green.

Step 7: pick up row

i. Purl the first stitch.  All stitches originally on the left-hand needle at the start of this row will be purled.

ii. Identify the stitch to be "picked-up". The blue needle is pointing to that stitch.

iii. Pick up that stitch onto the left-hand needle.

iv. Knit the picked-up stitch. All picked-up stitches are knitted.

v. Purl the next stitch.

vi. Pick-up the next stitch.

vii. Knit the picked-up stitch.

viii. Purl the next stitch.  Continue in this alternating manner until....

ix. ...the row is complete.

Step 8. Remove the contrasting colour.

Viola!  You have the best cast-on edge ever.  Go-on... try it!

I'm interested in learning how to do invisible cast-off. Does anyone know how?

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