Cable Cast On

So, this might seem a bit weird, to have a post on how to cast on on a blog for people who, theoretically already know how to knit and spin.  Here’s the thing though: I have recently met a lot of ne knitters and many of them were taught to cast on using a long tail method when they were taught to knit.

I find that a bit odd, frankly.  Everyone I know who teaches beginners teacher the cable cast on because it mimics the same movements we use when we knit “for reals.”  Most of these new knitters also told me they found the long tail cast on difficult, and off putting, which didn’t surprise me.  It’s a great cast on, for sure, but there are literally hundreds of ways to cast on, and I am not sure why the teacher would choose that method.

In any event, if you hate casting on, and/or you were taught a long tail cast on, here is another option.  There really are LOTS of ways to cast on, and each has it’s own characteristics.  It takes time to learn how to know which way is the best way for you and for your particular project.

But if you are a beginning knitter there is no need to worry about all those hundreds of ways – just relax!

Here is the most basic way to cast on – step by step.

Cable Cast On

The cable cast on is what I teach brand-new knitters because it employs the same motions and movements that you make when you knit.

This cast on would be perfect for the bottom of a hat that you want to be a bit stretchy, so it will go on over your big noggin –  but not so stretchy that it looses it’s shape and gets larger with time and then falls off your big noggin.

It would also work well at the bottom of a sweater or at the cuffs because it will stretch a little but will keep it’s shape over time.

This method is not hard to do, although like anything new it might seem a bit overwhelming at first.  Once you have done it a few times it will get much easier.  Get a piece of scrap yarn and give it a try.

Step 1

Twist the yarn around the needle so it created a CLOSED loop over the needle.  You don’t need to twist it more than once, just once is enough.  (You can use a slip knot here if you wish, but if you don’t know how to make a slip knot this works beautifully.)

Cable Cast On

Step 2

Put your right needle into the loop, below the needle, pointing away from you.

Notice that the two needles are at a 90 degree angels to each other. Try to keep it that way most of the time, it will help you a lot! They should be like that when you knit, as well!

Cable Cast On

Step 3

Wind your working yarn, not your end (which should be about 7 inches long), around the point of the right hand needle with is pointing away from you.  Wind the yarn under then over the point and then toward the right. In the picture the yarn is wound very loosely to show you where it is going, in real life you will want to pull the yarn taut (Not tight, no death-grips, just snug and taut.)

Cable Cast On

Step 4

The yarn that you have wound around the point of your right hand needle and pulled snug is the new stitch that you are starting to make.  To finish making it you need to pull the new stitch through the loop on the left hand needle.  Do that by pulling it back towards yourself through the loop so it looks like this:Cable Cast On


You don’t have to worry about the size of either of the loops, you will be pulling the yarn taut later, right now it’s just important that you get the new stitch through the loop.

Step 5

Now you have one loop (which is actually your first stitch) on the left hand needle and one loop (which is about to become your second stitch) on the right hand needle.  So the next step is to put the new loop onto the left hand needle next to the loop that is already there.  To do that pull the new stitch out so it’s big, it can be REALLY big if you want, just pull it out….

Cable Cast On


Then loop it over the left hand needle like this:

Cable Cast On

Once it’s on the needle you can pull your working yarn taut so it’s snug. (NOT tight, snug!)

Congratulations!  And you are done. You just cast on a new stitch.

Step 6

To make the next new stitch you put your needle into the stitch you just made and start again.

Cable Cast On

Now go back to step two and repeat Steps 2-5 to keep creating new stitches.  Continue until you have the number of stitches the pattern calls for.

Alternate Medthod

There is another way to do a cable cast on that is ALMOST exactly the same, but it makes a neater edge.

Follow the directions above steps 1-5.  When you want to cast on your third stitch (or any after that) instead of putting your needle into the loop on the left hand needle put the point of your needle between the loops of the last two stitches:Cable Cast On


Then continue with the other steps.  The only thing different about doing it this way is that it creates a more intricate edge to the cast on. Either method works fine!!

 Tips and Tricks

1. You never want to pull the yarn TIGHT.  (This is true for all knitting, not just when you are casting on.)

Pulling the yarn tight serves no good purpose – it will either loosen up on it’s own and you will be frustrated, or it will stay tight and then when you try to knit the next row you can’t get your needle in between the yarn and the needle and you will be frustrated.  (Do you see a trend there?)  You want snug, taut pressure not TIGHT.

2. Always leave between 7-10 inches of yarn as a tail when you cast on.  This will make your weaving in your ends so much easier. If you know that you will be sewing a seam from this end then leave a longer tail (12-24 inches) so you will already have yarn ready to start sewing up the seam.  Make sure you don’t knit with this yarn though!!)

3. It is a good idea to cast on with needles that are TWO TIMES bigger than the needle you need to knit the garment.  This ensures that the edge is not too tight.  The trick is to REMEMBER that you need to stop using the larger needles when you finish casting on and change to the smaller needles the pattern recommends.

Want more?

As I said, there are hundreds of ways to cast on.  Cap Sease says there are at LEAST 211 ways to cast on and bind off.  I recommend her lovely and useful book Cast On, Bind Off.

Before I bought this I honestly thought I knew most of the ways to cast on and cast off for knitting.  She not only showed me new ways, but also additional methods and alternate techniques for the ones I knew!



Hey Spinners!

Catch the fun on Instagram: @the1764shepherdess has proposed a #spin15aday2018challenge and I am ALL IN!  Then @threewatersfarm and @knittingsarah suggested a #WeMakeYarn challenge for the month of January!  Come and join us on Instagram and spin 15 minutes a day in 2018! Imagine how your spinning will change!!  Happy New Year everyone!!


Garter and Stockinette

This is part of a sometime series called Anatomy of a Knitted Stitch. This part is about Garter and Stockinette.

Garter and Stockinette

To long time knitters garter and stockinette are obvious and so ubiquitous.  We don’t even think about how confusing they can be to new knitters. Patterns will say “work 20 rows in garter” or “work 20 rounds in stockinette.”  Well, that’s great if you know what that means, but garter and stockinette rarely explained in patterns.  If garter and stockinette are new terms then you must look it up online. New knitters often ask me why the designer didn’t just tell them what to do!

The thing is, they have told you what to do!  And once you have been knitting for a while you don’t even think about it. You just KNOW.  But I think it’s good to review what we “KNOW” once in awhile to see if anything has changed or if there is more we can learn. So let’s talk about the old standbys – Garter and Stockinette.


Garter and Stockinette

Generally students learn the knit stitch first.

Most people learn to knit on straight needles.

This means they knit a row, then they turn their work and knit back, and so on.

This type of fabric is called garter stitch.

When you DO garter stitch you knit every row.

When you SEE garter stitch you see a knit row then a purl row, then a knit row.

Remember that every stitch is like a coin and has two sides.  If you work a knit stitch it shows up as a purl stitch on the back of your work. And vice versa.

Garter stitch is funny because from a distance it can look like all purl rows.  The purl stitch is kind of a bully. It will take over how your fabric looks and feels.

In Knits and Purls  I said “PURL stitches are a tiny, itsy bit larger than knit stitches.” That tiny bit of bigness is the purl bump hanging out the back of the stitch. When you knit in garter stitch you see a whole row of those bully bumps, then a row of the sedate and lessy bully-ish knit stitches, then back to the big bully purls – obviously the purls are going to show up more.

This isn’t really a bad thing because it makes garter stitch into a flat fabric.  Garter is alternate rows of knits and purls which balance each other out.  This balance allows the fabric you create to lay flat and not curl up or wrinkle.


Garter and Stockinette

If you only know how to knit you can only make Garter stitch.

However, once you learn how to purl you have a million more options.

The first and most common option is to create stockinette stitch.

As a beginner on straight needles, this means you knit a row, turn, and purl a row.

When you DO stockinette stitch you knit a row, then purl a row.

When you SEE stockinette stitch  you see rows and rows of knitted stitches only.

Stockinette stitch is probably the most common stitch fabric.  Stockinette has has two distinct sides.  The knit side is smooth and you only see knit stitches.  The purl side is only purl stitches.

Fashions Change

When I was growing up we thought the knit-only side was more “attractive” than the purl side.  Back then we thought the purl-only side, or “reverse stockinette” was less sophisticated.   Nowadays people are a bit less purl-prejudiced.  You can find whole sweaters made in reverse stockinette stitch!

Reverse stockinette stitch makes a great background for cables since the rougher texture of a solid purl background makes the smooth knitted cables stand out more.

I am a bit “knit-centric.”  I don’t like the look of reverse stockinette stitch on sweaters.  They make me itch to turn the garments “right side out.”  I guess I am old fashioned. I think the reverse stockinette fad has been brought about by people trying to innovate by putting the “wrong side” on the outside. It’s good to push the envelope, of course, but I prefer in general the “right side” of smooth knits, and the “wrong side” of purls for large swathes of fabric.

Stockinette is the stitch of choice for most color work, not all certainly, but most. Color work gets muddy on the purl side.  When you start using a different color the purl side of the stitch is half the old color and half the new color.  The knit side is generally more simplistic – one stitch, one color.


No, I am not talking about the grand Canadian sport.  Stockinette may be ubiquitous but it has one really big draw back.  It is NOT a balanced fabric.  By that I mean that because all the knits are on one side, and all the purls are on the other then the thuggish purls force the fabric to curl up at the bottom.

And, to make matters worse there is another type of curl in stockinette fabric.  You already know that PURL stitches are a tiny bit larger (meaning longer) than knit stitches, but additionally, KNIT stitches are a tiny bit WIDER than purl stitches. Which mean that at the side of the fabric it curls THE OTHER WAY! (Stockinette curls UP at the bottom, and curls BACK at the sides.)

This is why at the bottom of large swathes of stockinette (like a sweater for example) you will find a border – ribbing, seed, garter, etc. That is a balanced fabric so it lies flat and can act as an anchor.

Knitting in the Round

Keep in mind that your perspective changes when you are knitting in the round. To get the same look you have to DO different things.


  • When you SEE garter stitch you see a knit row then a purl row, then a knit row.
  • IN THE ROUND when you do garter stitch you must knit a round, then purl a round.
Garter and Stockinette


  • When you SEE stockinette stitch you see rows and rows of knitted stitches only.
  • IN THE ROUND when you DO stockinette stitch you knit every round.


Garter and Stockinette


It used to be that every students learned to knit on straight needles. This meant that they learned garter stitch right off the bat.  Then they learned purl stitches so they could create stockinette.  Nowadays some shops teach students to knit in the round. The students are told that all they need is the knit stitch.  I have met knitters who have been knitting for months, and never knew how to make a purl stitch.  These new knitters are often frustrated and annoyed.  They wonder what all the fuss is about because they find knitting boring. So sad!

Garter and Stockinette are easy and useful fabric types to use in your knitting.  And reverse stockinette is much more popular now for whole garments than it used to be.  Knowing how the stitches make the fabric work can help you make your project come out the way you want it to, or help you design something you can’t find a pattern for.

Click here to learn more about the Anatomy of Knitted Stitches!

Giveaway Day 2017 – Adele’s Legacy

Last Thursday was Giveaway Day 2017 at Lee M. Waid Elementary School in Rocky Mount, Virginia.  Giveaway Day was in Franklin County this year and next year we go back to Bedford County.

We handed out almost 400 sweaters, hats and scarves for Adele’s Legacy.  Unfortunately, the Adele’s Legacy website is down at the moment (doing a little reconstruction) so I thought I would share the  joy here! Check out all those happy smiling faces!  We sure do love to keep kids cozy!

All of the staff and employees of Lee Waid also got hats, and they have some pretty big smiles, too!

Special Thanks

Thanks to our photographer, Joe Ganiaris, who took the great pictures.

Thanks to all the ladies (both from Adele’s Legacy and from Lee Waid) who helped pass out the goodies!!

And super duper special thanks to the wonderful staff and teachers at Lee Waid who fed us breakfast, snacks, and a homemade hot lunch, as well as send us home with goodie bags.  (That had chocolate chip cookies in them – YUMMO!) We had such a lovely time! Thanks for treating us so well!









































































Newspaper Coverage

Franklin News Post