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Ask the Expert: Knitting

December 7, 2011

Beth Ganse Kronlund How to cast on dpns, getting the stitches spread onto the other needles. And -- is there a difference between using 4 or 5 needles? (These questions came up at our knitting group last week.)

Beth: This is surprisingly simple and you will be shocked when you read this. I cast on all my stitches to one DPN and then slip them from the end (starting with the first cast on stitch) onto my other needles, ex: Project calls for 40 sts, cast on 40 sts onto needle #1. Then take needle #2 and slip 14 sts from #1 onto #2. Drop #2. Slip 13 sts from #1 onto needle #3, drop #3. Slip 13 sts from #1 onto needle #4. Take needle #5 to knit with. It is much easier then casting onto 3-4 needles.

The difference between 4 or 5 needles is up to you. If you have a lot of sts you will want to spread them out over 4 needles instead of 3. Some people prefer less DPN because it can get tricky handling them all. Still others only use 4 because they have lost number 5.

Carol Jacobs Which cast on do I use when?

Carol: I am not alone in trusting the Long Tail Cast On for 95% percent of my cast on needs. However, some patterns will ask you to use a specific cast on. There are still those 4.5% of projects that need something special to make the project really come together. You will know when you have one of those projects and here are some examples from my history.

Backward Loop Cast On: I use this when there are over 150 sts because I am not good at estimating how long I need my tail to be for Long Tail Cast On and I find when I try to estimate for over 150 sts I end up casting on more than 3 times and that is no fun. I don't like knitting the first row of Backward Loop Cast On but it is worth it

Provisional Cast On: Use this when you need your cast on to be invisible or to match your bind off. It is easy to pick up stitches from so you can knit match scarf ends starting in the middle. This is also a good substitute for Backwards Loop since you don't need a tail.

Cable Cast On: This is a very flexible cast on well adapted for use with cables because it is not as tight as Long Tail can be. It can also be used mid-project to add additional stitches. Best to use this only when you do need since it doesn't give as nice of a finish as Long Tail.

Em Komiskey What's a good source to learn what all the codes and abbreviations in knitting patterns mean? What the best resources for someone who has never picked up a knitting needle before? Any suggestions on first projects that won't discourage the learner?

Em: Many abbreviations change from source to source but there is always a key. However, once you learn them from one source you can see the subtle changes when used in another source, ex: Knit 2 together might be "k2tg" in one pattern and "k2tog" in another. I would use a trusted source to learn a list of standard abbreviations and codes and work from there. I learned from Knitty.com and Interweave Knits magazine. I find Knitty is easier when I am by a computer because I can access it anywhere and Interweave Knits is good when I am on the go without internet access because one issue can fit in my purse. However, if you find a pattern that has a code that is not referenced and is unfamiliar to you, you can always email the author or message them on Ravelry, email me or try the Knitty.com Coffeeshop (Knitty's forum with swarms of helpful knitters).

I would suggest Knitty.com as the best resource for a new knitter because they have tons of technique articles, the patterns are rated for difficulty and each issue is small so they won't be overwhelmed. When the aforementioned knitter is ready for more, show them Ravelry!

I always recommend dishcloths for first projects because they are completed quickly so the knitter can show off the goods and not be bogged down with a scarf which is LONG. They are easy, make great gifts, usable and can be sewn together to make blankets. Dishcloths are also a great way to practice new techniques.

Patti Linder LOL! How do I keep my daughter's cats from playing with my yarn when I'm knitting at her apartment?

Patti: You have 2 options- either establish dominance early on via staring contest or bribe said cats with hand knit toys. Of course, you can always choose to keep your yarn balls in zip top bags (the bags your yarn from Fabric.com is shipped are my favorite) or you can make a Stash Bag like I use when knitting on the go. 

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This page contains a single entry by published on December 7, 2011 10:15 PM.

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