“I'm a really slow knitter
without magic.”

Lesson Three: Suspension of Knit Belief

Please forgive me for such a horrible pun. I can't seem to not be punny in my lesson titles; I don't know why. However, regardless of the puns, I've got two very cool techniques for you this month: the ever-popular Long Tail Cast On and the Suspended Bind Off.

Long Tails

The Long Tail Cast On is one of the most popular cast ons in the knitting world. It's firm but stretchy, and it's easy to work with. (Remember how hard the Loop Cast On was on that first row? You're not going to have those problems here.) And, as an added bonus, when you finish casting on your stitches, you've also already knit your first row, too. That little trick makes this the fastest cast on out there.

As you might have guessed by the name, the Long Tail Cast On requires, well, a long tail; this is because you use both the tail and the working yarn to cast on. The hardest part is sorting out how long a tail you need to use. A good general rule of thumb I've been told is to use a tail length that's a little more than three times the width of what you're casting on. With a smaller project like this, it's not too long a tail to work with.

When all's said and done, it is better to have too long a tail than too short a tail. With too long a tail, that's just extra yarn you can't use, but with too short a tail, you're probably going to have to rip it out and start over again. Sure, that gives you a chance to practice the cast on some more, but that's not how you want to spend your knitting time.

Long Tail Cast On

Work a slipknot in your yarn, between what is to be your working yarn and your tail. With the tail side of the slipknot to the left, place the slipknot on your needle and hold it in your right hand. Let the yarn hang down from the needle and put your left thumb and forefinger between the two strands of yarn, gathering the rest of it in your left hand. Bring the needle down toward your fist a bit to get into position. You might notice this is similar to the Loop Cast On. (Good eye, too, because it is similar to the Loop Cast On.)

Like in the Loop Cast On, run the needle beneath the yarn on your thumb, but instead of releasing the newly created loop off of your thumb, take the needle over, around, and under the yarn on your index finger. This pulls the loop off of your thumb (it's okay to let it go now) and leaves you with a loop on the needle. Gently tighten the extra yarn on the thumb side — but not too tight, or the cast on looses its stretchiness.

Continue making loops from your thumb and forefinger until you've cast on enough stitches.

Another Bind Off

I'd never heard of the Suspended Bind Off until Tarma mentioned it as her favorite. She told me how to do it, I tried it out, and I found I really like it. Generally speaking, I have to try hard not to make my bind offs tight when I use the Basic method, but this particular bind off gives me a nice, stretchy edge.

Suspended Bind Off

Begin by knitting two stitches, just like you do with the Basic Bind Off. With the tip of the left hand needle, pull the first stitch on the right needle over the second stitch stitch, but don't drop that first stitch from the left needle. With that first stitch still on the left needle, knit into the next unworked stitch on the left needle. As you complete the knitting of the new stitch, let the first stitch (that passed over from the right to the left needle) drop from the left needle. This leaves two stitches on the right needle.

Continue passing over and suspending your stitches until you've knit into all the stitches on your left needle. Finish these two stitches as you would with the Basic Bind Off.

Knitting Terms

Check here for explanations of basic knitting terms that appear in the lessons.


About your professors

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If you've got a question about the class, the requirements, or any of the lessons, feel free to ask.