Friday, November 4, 2011

The stretchiest (and easiest) cast on and bind off

There are many elegant and stretchy ways to start and end knitting, and particularly, ribbing. Among these are:

Tubular cast on
Tubular bind off
Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bind off
JSSCO (cast on)
JSSBO (bind off)
Reverse stockinette cast on
The "miraculous" stretchy bind off

Every single one of these is a great invention, a monument to human ingenuity.

Yet, when I go to cast on or bind off, the technique I use more than any other is the simple rolled edge.
simple rolled edge on 1x1 ribbing

This edge can take it--hats and mittens go through three kids and the edge still looks good.  Socks last until the heels wear out. The main thing, though, is that it Could.Not.Be.Easier.

  • Step 1: cast on any way you like: long-tail, cable cast on, literally any method at all. The only thing is make it LOOSE.  Much looser than you think.  Use larger needles if you need to. 
  • Step 2: switch to the needles you'll use for the ribbing and make the rolled edge by working several rows or rounds of stockinette. 
  • Step 3: start your ribbing.

That's it.

For bind off, reverse:  work several rows or rounds of stockinette, then bind off any way you like.  Just make it LOOSE. Bonus points:  bind off and cast on match.

The stockinette rolls over, hides the edge, wears like iron, never binds.



grandmastatus said...

Wow. When I think of rolled stockinette edging I picture just the rolling- never to put it before ribbing.

cabledsheep said...

Great idea, thanks! I love the "miraculous stretchy bind-off" and use it for all of my lace projects. I think I've only used it once for rib (on a scarf). But I think the rolled edge sounds better for garments.

The Yarn Owl said...

Thanks for this reminder about rolled stocking stitch edgings!

I wonder, though, if there's a demonstration anywhere of a sewn cast-off that exactly matches the look of a backward-loop cast-on? I've used this once before for a moss stitch edging on a scarf, but I was making it up as I went along and never did manage to reconstruct exactly how I did it!

TECHknitter said...

Hi YO: The back stitch, worked with a needle through live loops, will exactly match the backwards loop cast on.

Cut and paste linky:

Stitched Together said...

That is simply brilliant. I will try that on my next socks. Thank you.

The Yarn Owl said...

Thank you so much!

Danika Paige Myers said...

I noticed that your Elizabethan cap pattern doesn't use any particular edging/finishing, just cast-on & beginning knitting in pattern. Is there a reason you didn't use something like this rolled hem other than just that it's a garter stitch pattern?

TECHknitter said...

Hi Diana--The Elizabeth cap does have a rolled edging on top--the rosette is a rolled edge. At the brim, the cap features an optional slip stitch edging

Cut and paste linky:

This helps prevent spreading.
Thanks for writing, TK

Tiddy and Charlie. said...

Great idea! Thanks :o) c x

Stephanie said...

Rolled stockinette is something that I usually avoid. I never would have thought to use it like this, but it's brilliant!

Lara said...

Could a temporary cast on (that's then removed) be the first step for this one?

TECHknitter said...

Hi Lara--really, any kind of cast on will work. When you take out the cast on, though, are you planning to work those live stitches, or just bind them off? If you are planning to work them, the little stretch of stockinette will interferes with your pattern, perhaps.

pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

Brilliant. It looks great, and it's so simple.

random Cindy said...

I dislike ribbed edges myself so I find the rolled stockinette a very useful combination of ease and comfort. I'm glad to see you champion this oft maligned technique!

Danika Paige Myers said...


Judy said...

This is so cool!

Lara said...

I was thinking bind it off, that way the beginning and end would match exactly.

kmkat said...

How about a post on doing a tubular cast-on and bind-off in the round? The project I am making right now could use those.

TECHknitter said...

Hi Lara--Although the cast on is completely hidden by the roll, what you propose has a significant practical upside

Your trick will permit adjustment at the end, so the follow-up bind off can be adjusted until the tension is absolutely correct. Therefore, carry on!

Best, TK

TECHknitter said...

Hi Kmkat! Frankly, the idea of a circular tubular cast makes me shudder. I'd do it back and forth, then sew up the tiny seam. The cast off is not so bad though--you just work the set up rows, then separate fronts (knits) from back (purls) and graft (Kitchener stitch) them together. The TECHknitting post on tubular cast off shows this being worked in the round.

cut and paste linky

Best, TK

gayle said...

I usually use a tubular cast-on, but will try this on the next hat I make. Simple is right!

pam said...

I totally agree with you! i just completed four cowl using this method and the edges are just beautiful. But i just thought it was paret of the pattern! Wow! Now i will be using this on many other items I knit!

AzL said...

Wow - first off, your site is just amazing. SO helpful!

I am desperately in need of advice. Just spent the past 3 hours Googling for a suitable cast on method for my new project, but found nothing that would work for my purposes.

I need to start off a bottom-up hat with 4x2 rib - I really want the effect of a tubular cast on, but from what I've read tubular seems to only work for 1x1 or 2x2. Please tell me I'm wrong?? I've tried out most of the other stretchy cast ons and I really don't like any of them as much as the tubular for this pattern. Any suggestions?

Also, I think I spent an entire hour trying to make sense of the Double Needle Cast On (from June Hemmons Hiatt's The Principles of Knitting) The casting on itself was easy enough, but I could not for the life of me figure out what to do when it came time to knit the first row...what are you supposed to do with the extra yarn (from the twisting)?? I tried both knitting it with the loop that was obviously the stitch and knitting the stitch alone, but both methods just gave me super loose edges that couldn't possibly have been right. I've seen several knitters rave about this method and no one seemed to mention having similar confusion, so I'm sure I'm just missing something obvious...

I would so, so appreciate it if you could offer any advice!

TECHknitter said...

Hi AzL--It's great to read that you are enjoying TECHknitting blog.

I'm sorry I cannot help you with June Hiatt's cast on, I am not familiar with that. Have you considered gong on Ravelry? There are lots of threads about casting on, perhaps you could learn something by perusing those threads?

As to a tubular cast on for a 4x2 ribbing, I have never heard of such a thing and doubt it could be done.

I take it from the fact that you are positing your comment on the post about the rolled edge cast on that you have tried the rolled edge and not liked it. But, if it is a smooth and stretchy edge worked in pattern which you are looking for, perhaps you will consider a hem, either knitted shut or sewn shut.

Cut and paste links into your browser window

Best, TK

Knittingfreak said...

Hi - When you start the stockinette rows do you knit an odd number or even number of rows?

TECHknitter said...

Hi Knittingfreak--sorry for the delay in answering. The first most important issue is ENOUGH stockinette rows for the edge to curl over and hide the cast on or bind off. Whether the number of rows is odd or even really just depends on which edge of the garment you want your working yarn on--once above the rolled edge, do you want to start off by working a rs (right side) row first or a ws (wrong side) row?