Some nifty, new to me, cast ons

Like most knitters I get into a knitting rut.  When I have an idea I want to get started straight away…this means that I rely on well know cast-ons and techniques that I can do by rote without having to research anything.  I’ve shaken things up here a little over the last few weeks.  I’ve decided to tackle areas that either I avoided or tried briefly and bypassed to save time.

The first of these was toe up socks.  I know it’s not a very unique construction technique but I avoided it like the plague.  I had two reasons for this, the first was my inability to master Judy’s magic cast on from photos and the other was my dislike of the gusset less short row heel.

My desire to master toe up this time came about because I wanted to knit some long thick boot socks for one of the boys.  I wanted to make the leg as long as possible and the only way I could really do that and not run out of yarn was working toe up.  So I decided to tackle the problem head on.  The first problem I had was with the basic construction technique.  The idea of a short row heel was great, looks lovely but both me and my son have high arches.  A sock without a gusset just doesn’t work!  Trying to pull it over the heel is quite frankly a nightmare.  So I started my search on ravrelry for a basic toe up sock with a gusset.  I landed on this pattern which fitted the bill.  It’s a super easy pattern to follow, however I wonder if there is a seamless way to finish the heel without having to pick up stitches at the back of the heel?  I think I’ll have to mull that construction over for a while, there may be some odd sock construction patterns in my future!

My other problem was of course my inability to master Judy’s Magic Cast On first time around from photos.  I decided to tackle the cast on from a different angle, in motion, and searched you tube for some videos.  This one was great and after watching it through a couple of times I had it down perfectly.  It’s such a simple variation on the invisible cast on (using the tail of yarn instead of waste yarn or a needle) but the result is so beautiful I just want to use it on everything!  There are so many possibilities that I can’t wait to use it again.

Here’s a little look at those plain vanilla toe up thick boot socks I made for the boy….

The second cast on I worked with this month was the bellybutton cast on.  I was using this for a center out shawl.  Previously when I’ve designed center out shawls me (and other knitters) have struggled for the first few rounds until there is enough stitches to easily work the little circle.  There always has to be a better way of doing things so I again started searching.  The concept for this cast on is so simple that it’s one of those ‘why didn’t I think of that myself’ moments!

One of the easiest ways of knitting a small circumference easily is with an I-cord.  You just use one needle and pull the stitches tightly to close the loop.  This cast on uses this basic principle.  All you do is work a small I-cord with waste yarn, then change to your working yarn and dpns (or magic loop) and you can start knitting your shawl or whatever you’re working in the round.  Then when you’re finished you remove the I-cord, draw the tail through the live stitches and pull it tight – just like the top of a hat.  You end up with a lovely tidy center to your shawl that is super easy to construct.

So today’s blog post is all about finding better solutions to your knitting – if something isn’t working for you find a new way to do it!

9 thoughts on “Some nifty, new to me, cast ons

  1. I also have high insteps – but you can absolutely make short row heels work, if you want to. The trick is to stick a few increases in before starting the heel. I generally find just 2 or 3 increases on each side of the foot, starting from 1.5-2cm before the short rows, are enough; obviously you can adapt at will to suit your feet.

    Of course, toe-up heel flaps do have their uses. I like the look of the Earlybird socks in the new Knitty, with a heel flap that wraps up from under the foot. That should give extra durability, too!

  2. I’m currently enjoying JMCO; it’s finally clicked with me where I get it right every time! I watched Judy’s YouTube video, and that helped.

    I don’t like the usual gusset-less heel on a toe-up sock, but you can use the flap and gusset heel here, too. The heel turn is just a right angle in your tube. It’s either from leg to foot or foot to leg. If you use a flap and gusset heel the heel stitch ends up under the heel instead of at the back. This works better for me, because that’s where I wear the sock out first!

  3. I love Yarnissima’s socks! She almost always constructs them toe-up with a gusset. When knitting the heel flap, she *decreases the stitches away*! Just genius. And of course, her patterns are just gorgeous. (She also has a couple of free ones, if you are just curious about the heel technique.)

  4. Learned Judy’s magic cast on just a couple of weeks ago. Used it to make a seamless hood for top down cardigan. Highly recommend :)

  5. I’m making my first toe-up socks using the Craftsy tutorial by Donna Druchunas. She presents several types of toes and heels, including a gusset construction where once the gussets are knitted, the stitches are decreased from side to side as you knit the heel flap up so when you got to the end of the flap, you’re was back to the original stitch count and ready to knit up the leg. So much better than the cuff-down method – I made such a mess of my first socks picking up stitches.

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