So as I said in the last blog post about what you’ll need to get started knitting, you should have at least one color of a pretty cheap yarn and at least one set of knitting needles. To learn to cast on, that’s really all you need right now.
Your first step will be to make a slipknot in your yarn. Yes, slipknot is more than just a mediocre rock band that was marginally cool when I was like 13.
For the long-tail cast on we’re doing today, where you put the slipknot matters because you want enough yarn to form the stitches you need. A standard rule of thumb is that you’ll need one inch for every stitch you plan to cast on.
A good number to start with is ten stitches, so take the end of your yarn and pull about ten inches plus a little bit for wiggle room, and then make your knot like so:
It’s difficult to put it into words well, but hopefully the gif above is clear. You’re basically twisting a simple loop into the yarn, then pull a loop of the hanging yarn through the first loop. If that doesn’t make sense, just mimic the gif!
Next, just slide that slipknot onto the needle and pull to tighten. BUT don’t make it too tight. This goes for when you start casting on too. When I first started I had a habit of casting on too tightly and then it was painful to actually try and knit with these tight stitches. Leave a bit of slack so that when you start stitching, you’ll be able to get the other needle into the stitch.
Once the slipknot is on the needle, put your index finger on the knot to hold it in place then use your other hand to hold the yarn. As you can see in the gif, you’ll hold both the loose end and the yarn that goes back to the ball, then split them apart with your thumb and index finger.
I think to some people it matters which end is which, but I’ve never found it makes much of a difference. So just pick up the needle, hold your slipknot in place, grab the hanging yarn, and separate the strands.
And here it is: the cast on.
Notice that the first step is to move the needle toward you and pick up the lower portion of yarn that’s looped around your thumb.
You then point the needle toward your index finger and pick up the upper portion of the yarn looped around your index finger.
You then pull with your thumb and forefinger on each strand of the yarn to tighten. But not too tight like I said above.
So let’s say you want to cast on 10 stitches. Remember that the slipknot counts as a stitch. So to get 10 you’ll go through the motion in the gif above nine times, not ten.
In all its blurry beauty, this is what it looked like when I’d cast on three times:
Once you’ve cast on the number of stitches you need, you’ll be ready to get started learning some basic stitches, but that’s a lesson for next time.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the next post!
So up to this point a lot of the crafting I’ve done & shared on the blog has been sewing or painting, which are still super fun activities! But now I’m going to switch up the focus a bit and get into the basics of knitting.
You might be asking yourself…knitting? Isn’t that just something for old women in the 1800s or Serena on The Handmaid’s Tale? Lies.
The reason I took up knitting has a lot to do with the reason why this blog has been sadly quiet for so long. I just graduated from law school, and it’s no coincidence that law school lasts 3 years and it’s been 3 years since I’ve gotten to update the blog.
But I took up knitting thanks to pressure from my sister and to have a stress relieving hobby to work on when I needed a break from studying. Here are some of the reasons I’ve stuck with it through the years and have been neglecting other crafts:
- Knitting is super easy to put down and come back to later, so you can just work on it a little at a time when you need to unwind
- Doesn’t take up nearly as much space as sewing — having to clear off my table anytime I wanted to craft was really hard to do
- Great for stress relief and other health benefits
- Super easy to take things apart and start over if you realize you’ve made a huge tactical error, and you don’t have to toss out yarn
And that’s all just off the top of my head.
So what do you need to get started? Basically everything you see in the picture above will help you get the foundational skills down. First, I recommend getting two contrasting colors of a cheap yarn — I don’t want to recommend any particular brands here because I feel kind of bad singling out a brand as “cheap.” But I always keep the white and pink yarns you see in the photo handy for experimenting with new techniques.
Second, get one or two pairs of needles. I have size 7s in the picture, but size 10 is also a good one to get started. We’ll talk more about picking the right sized needle for a project later, but for now anything in the 7 to 10 range should get the job done.
You’ll also need some scissors to cut the yarn, and not pictured but also very handy is a yarn or tapestry needle. It’s basically a needle with a really big eye for when you’re weaving in the ends of your yarn.
And finally, brew yourself a nice warm mug of tea. Just because it’s good for you.
Now while you’re out at the craft store picking those up, I’ll be here getting ready to show you the first steps in any knitting project: casting on stitches.
*I regret nothing.