Thursday, January 24, 2008

Length reassignment surgery: lengthening and shortening knitwear

includes 3 illustrations, click any illustration to enlarge
As a frequenter of Ravelry, I have discovered that Ravelry is the greatest timesuck ever invented, although it is also the best website for all knitters (and spinners and crocheters) and you should join now lots of knitters would like to know how to make too-short knitwear longer, and too-long knitwear shorter, or remove a cast on and redo it, or otherwise start or end their fabric in some other place than it is now.

Now, this isn't very difficult, but it is scary the first time you try it, and there are a few shoals in the water, so that's the subject of today's post.

* * *

Let us suppose that you have a sleeve or a hat which is TOO SHORT or TOO LONG, and that you have knit
  • from the top down
  • in the round or back and forth
  • in stockinette
Lucky you, that is the easiest case!

  1. Unravel and re-knit longer/shorter.
* * *
Let us suppose that you have a garment which is TOO SHORT or TOO LONG, and that you have knit
  • from the bottom up
  • in the round or back and forth
  • in stockinette

(An aside: the below trick also works for catching live stitches out of an alread-knit stockinette fabric for ANY purpose, not just for lengthening or shortening).
  1. If you knit back and forth, unravel the seam to above the area where you will snip. If you knit round and round, just start right in with step 2.
  2. Snip one stitch of the garment in the round ABOVE the ribbing (for too short) or just where you want the ribbing to begin (for too long).
  3. Using a needle to pick out the yarn along the row or round (purple in the diagrams), unravel all the way around/across the garment.
  4. As each live loop pops free, catch it on your needles--the same needle you used to knit the garment in the first place. Don't worry now which way your stitch is laying, just worry about catching it.
  5. When the ribbing pops loose, put it aside, you will not need it now.
  6. Once all the live loops are caught on your needles, slip your way around the work again, re-orienting and catching each loop RIGHT ARM FORWARD.
  7. Attach a new, unkinked yarn by any of these methods: Russian join, overcast join, overlap join, back join.
  8. If the garment was too short, you are now ready to reknit, downwards, in stockinette to lengthen the garment sufficiently until it is time to start the ribbing again. This works because stockinette has the wonderful property of lining up REGARDLESS of whether it is knit "up" or "down."
  9. If the garment was too long, you are now ready to knit the ribbing from where your stitches are all on the needle. If you have taken out so much fabric that you are several increases higher in the garment, and there are more stitches on your needle than there were when you first knit the cuff/band/edging, switch to smaller (or even to MUCH smaller) needles to re-knit the cuff. This way, the cuff/band/edging will still fit, even though it is being re-knit on more stitches than the old one.
  10. If the garment was too short, and your leftover yarn is insufficient to do all the further knitting, unravel the part of the sleeve you popped off, and process it according to these instructions so that it can be reused.
* * *

Your TOO SHORT or TOO LONG garment was not knit in stockinette. This means that the picked up stitches to be knit "downwards" will be a half-stitch off in the fabric pattern.

  1. You need to think outside the box. If the fabric is a ribbing, do the additional knitting for the cuffs/bands/edging in a different ribbing. So, for example, if the garment fabric is 2x2 ribbing, do the edging ribbing in 2x1 or 1x1 or whatever other ribbing you've always had a hankering to try.
  2. If the fabric pattern is garter stitch, edge with seed stitch; if it is seed stitch, try a ribbing or a garter stitch, etc.
* * *
Your garment is TOO SHORT and you do not have enough yarn to make it longer, no, not even if you recycle the popped-off bits.

  1. Matching or contrasting color: If the garment body or sleeves (or hat or other garment) is/are too short, unravel the bands and recycle that yarn to lengthen the garment. Then use a matching or contrasting color in the same weight and kind of yarn to re-knit the bands. A blue sweater with green or gray bands would look smashing, and no one but you would know you never meant to have it that way all along.
  2. Different dyelot of the same color: It often happens, however, that the same color is available, but in a different dyelot. In that case, do the same thing: recycle the yarn of the same dyelot out of the bands to lengthen the garment, and use the different dyelot for the bands. Bands are most often made in a different fabric stitch (ribbing, for example) than the main body of the garment (which might be made in stockinette). The change of fabric pattern on the bands hides the change of dyelot better than simply adding the new dyelot on in the stockinette portion.
  3. Add a stripe of a different color: I don't normally advocate Kitchener stitching (grafting) the snipped off bits back on--the Kitchener stitch is a very slow one, and progress is glacial. Also, there is often a noticeable tension difference between the garment fabric and the Kitchener-stitched row. However, every guideline is made to be broken, and in the case of a too-short sweater for a person of athletic build, a very good effect can be had by snipping and separating the body just below the underarm, or just above the bottom ribbing, and knitting in a stripe of a different color to go around the body. The other part of the sweater is then grafted back on. This can be a successful strategy for too-short sleeves on an athletic person's sweater, also. (Why only an "athletic person?" because a person with a fuller figure, male or female, is unlikely to be much complemented by a stripe just below the bust/chest, or worse yet, a stripe around the belly.) Oh, oh wait, this works on baby sweaters too, for you procrastinators whose target baby has lengthened while the project lay becalmed on the needles for several months. For babies, the stripe looks best just above the bottom ribbing. (Easy Kitchener stitching instruction here.)

Good luck--and if your problem is not solved here, try posting on the "technique" board on Ravelry, or send me an e-mail at

* * *
Addendum, Jan. 2013:  I've done a you-tube on a trick to quickly separate knitted fabric into two pieces--here ya go...

Addendum 2022
To shorten ribbing, check out these posts

You have been reading TECHknitting on: "lengthen knitting and shorten knitting."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Better bands and cuffs--the wrap-up

Hard to believe it taken from the end of October to the middle of January for this blog to wade through the topic of "better bands and cuffs." Part of the time-span is because posts on other subjects sometimes broke in to derail the train of thought. Between taking so long and being interrupted with other subjects, it seemed wise to wind up this series by tying it together in a (hopefully) coherent way: the wrap-up which constitutes today's post.

The series starts with a prequel, and runs through 9 further posts, 11 total if you include the prequel and this wrap-up post. (Whew!)

The prequel to the series goes over knitted fabrics which don't curl: GARTER, SEED STITCH, RIBBING and DOUBLE MOSS STITCH.

The series proper starts with the post called "Opera and soap opera" which offers an overview of the problem. This post introduces NORM, WANDA and LON. Norm is a normal stitch--situated in the middle of a stockinette fabric. Norm is supported on all sides by his "sibling" and "cousin" stitches. These all share yarn so that stress leaves Norm literally unmoved--he is pinned in place and will return to shape when the stress (from a poking elbow or the like) is removed. Wanda is an edge stitch at the bottom of a sweater band. Stress makes Wanda wander: a stretch or a poke leaves her all ruffled because she has no support along the entire bottom edge: once she stretches, there are no sibling and cousin stitches among whom to distribute the stress and who can bring her into shape again. Lon is an edge stitch on a front band. Lon stretches out long when stressed, because, like Wanda, he has no support along the stretched out edge to pull him back into shape. The conclusion of the first part is that UNSUPPORTED EDGE STITCHES (Wanda and Lon) are the reason GARMENT EDGES RUFFLE and STRETCH OUT.

The second post (Why cuffs and bands are wonky, and what to do about it) suggests a cure: If you KEEP THE EDGE STITCHES OF THE FABRIC AWAY FROM THE EDGES of KNITTED GARMENTS, the edge stitches can't stretch out. In Norm, Wanda and Lon terms, keeping Wanda and Lon away from the edge means that the edges are populated by Norm-type stitches: supported on all sides, these stitches can easily recover from the stretching stresses to which garment edges are subjected.

This part of the series also laid out the easiest way of keeping the edge stitches of the fabric away from the edge stitches of the garment: a SIMPLE ROLLED STOCKINETTE EDGE.

The third part of the series discusses another method of keeping the edge stitches of the fabric away from the edge of the knitted garment, making HEMS AND FACINGS. Again, this works because the edge of the garment is actually made up of Norm-type supported stitches--the Wanda- and Lon-type edge stitches are carefully tucked in on the inside where they are simply not subjected to the stretching stresses present at the garment edge.

The fourth part discusses how to KNIT SHUT A HEM, either a rollover hem, or a hem with a fold line.

The fifth part discusses why knitting shut a hem is best on narrow tubes (socks, cuffs) but how knitted hems flip up on long seams like those at the bottom band of a sweater. The alternative to knitting shut is laid out: SEWING SHUT A HEM.

The sixth part of the series changes direction away from strategies to keep unsupported edge stitches away from the edge of garments. Instead, this post accepts that sometimes the edges of the fabric will be the edges of the garment, and talks about how to stop such fabric/garment edges from flipping and curling. This sixth post also reaches back to the prequel post about non-curling fabrics such as ribbing, moss and garter. You see, the curling and flipping problem actually arises from stockinette's severe tendencies to want to curl. Even when non-curling fabrics are attached to it, stockinette wants so desperately to curl that it simply takes the "non-curling" edge right along with it. This sixth installment shows how STEAMING AND IRONING can help persuade stockinette away from this unruly behavior.

The seventh part also deals with stockinette edged with "non-curling" fabrics: this post lays out a way to knit single-layer fabric edgings which DON'T flip and curl (or at least, which don't flip and curl as much): ZIG-ZAG BANDS. Zig zag bands solve (or at least: help solve) the curling-stockinette problem because the zig-zag pattern breaks up the fault line along which the stockinette wants to curl. The most common use for a zig-zag band is an improved method to attach a garter stitch edging to a stockinette stitch fabric, a scarf, for example, or the garter-stitch front bands of a stockinette sweater.

The eighth post in the series shows TUBULAR CAST ON for a 1x1 ribbing--a method which controls the edge of a ribbing from spreading.

The ninth part lays out the matching TUBULAR CAST OFF for 1x1 ribbing--a method which makes the exact same edge as the tubular cast on, only at the bound OFF edge.

These two posts--the tubular edge posts--really address a very specific bit of the overall wonky-band issue: the problem of controlling stretching in the very edge stitches of a ribbed fabric. Nevertheless, SO many garments are edged with an unhemmed ribbed fabric that the tubular cast-ON and tubular cast-OFF really might be the most useful posts of the whole series.

Tubular cast-on and -off are really spectacularly successful in turning "home-made" knitting into "handcrafted" goodness, and they both work because they stick a Norm-type stitch--a fully supported stitch--at the very, very edge of the ribbed fabric. In other words, we have completely eliminated Lon and Wanda type stitches, and we have turned them all into Norm-type stitches with these two nifty, nifty tricks. In the process, we have come full circle from the first posts to the last, and this is the end of "of the better cuffs and bands" series. Thank you for reading along!

One final thing: some readers have expressed interest in tubular cast ON and OFF for 2x2 ribbings (k2, p2). Although several methods are familiar to me, none are anywhere near as nice as the tubular cast on and cast off for 1x1 ribbing. I'll keep working away on this problem and will be sure to post if some new trick reveals itself.

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: "Tricks for knitting better cuffs and bands, series review and summary)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tubular cast off (it's pretty)

includes 4 illustrations--click any illustration to enlarge
The tubular cast OFF described today is identical to the tubular cast ON of the last post in every way but one: you create them differently. But when the creation process is complete, these two are identical twins. The structure of the fabric is the same, they look the same, they stretch the same. Knitters often complain that their casts on look so different from their casts off, but after this post, YOU, dear reader, will no longer be able to complain about this particular annoyance. In examining the exposed fabric edge, the most eagle-eyed expert will find it impossible to say whether your tubular ribbing edges were created by a cast ON or a cast OFF.

The tubular cast ON, the subject of the previous post, is a three-phase process:
Phase 1 is a row of stockinette stitches cast on over a provisional tail,
Phase 2 consists of four double-knitting foundation rows which are knitted into the heads and tails of the cast-on row, and
Phase 3 is the 1x1 ribbing which follows.

The tubular cast OFF, the subject of today's post is done exactly in reverse, also in three phases:
  • Phase 1 is the 1x1 ribbing,
  • Phase 2 consists of four double-knitting foundation rows (created exactly like the four double-knitting foundation rows of the cast-ON) and
  • Phase 3 consists of two parts:
  • part 1 is a preparation row or round to separate and prepare the stitches for grafting.
  • part 2 is the final trick of the whole thing: the stitches separated in the previous part are grafted together. This creates a row of stockinette stitches on the very edge of the garment which is identical in every way with the row of stockinette stitches of the tubular cast ON.

Phase 1: 1x1 RIBBING
1. This step is easy: you create a 1x1 ribbing, as deep as you would like. ( BTW: 1x1 ribbing means a k1, p1 ribbing.)
2. This step consists of FOUR foundation rows or rounds. These are the foundation for phase 3. If you are working in the round, place a marker. If you are working flat (back-and-forth) no need for a marker.
  • ROW/ROUND 1: Knit each KNIT stitch, and SLIP each purl stitch.
  • ROW/ROUND 2: depending whether you are working a row or a round, proceed as follows:
  • row 2: Turn work, and repeat row 1
  • round 2: slip maker. Now PURL every purl stitch and SLIP every knit stitch.
  • ROW/ROUND 3: Repeat row/round 1
  • ROW/ROUND 4: Repeat row/round 2
This completes the four foundation rows.

As stated above, this phase is in two parts. For some reason, the first part of this phase often confuses folks, so here are some illustrations:

(below) Hold TWO circular needles in your RIGHT HAND. To make it easier on you, these should be a little THINNER than the needles used to create the ribbing. (If you are a perfectionist, no fears: transferring these stitches onto these smaller needles will NOT affect your gauge in any way--for more information about why this is true, click here.) Slip a KNIT stitch to the front needle. Specifically, slip the stitch as shown: untwisted. (Unlike in phase 2, there is NO KNITTING in this step, just SLIPPING.)

(below) Next, slip a PURL stitch to the back needle--slipped UNTWISTED as shown. (Again, unlike in phase 2, there is NO PURLING in this step, just SLIPPING.)

Alternate the two procedures: A knit stitch to the front needle, a purl stitch to the back needle and so on, until ALL the stitches have been separated.

(Below) At the end of the separating process, you should have 1/2 the stitches (the knits) on one needle, and 1/2 the stitches on the other needle. The project should look like this:
Now that the stitches are separated, the final step is to GRAFT the stitches together. For this, you will use the KITCHENER stitch. If you know how to Kitchener stitch with a yarn and threaded needle, have at it. If you don't know, follow THIS link for a new, easier method of doing the Kitchener stitch with knitting needles. The separated stitches are exactly like the front and back stitches in all the Kitchener diagrams. In other words, the separated stitches are just like the front and back stitches of a sock toe (the most common form of Kitchener stitching).

(Below) Here is the final result "in the wool." Nice, hey?
One last tip: If you are Kitchener stitching in the ROUND, and you want the round to end beautifully, here is the trick: If you are using a method of Kitchener stitch which involves a prep step for the first two stitches, IGNORE the prep step. If you are using the TECHknitting method, no worries as there is no prep step. When you work the first knit stitch, simply work it 1/2 (insert yarn in correct manner, pull it through BUT instead of dropping the stitch off the needle as you would normally do, put a bobby-pin or other holder through this stitch. Do the same with the first purl stitch--work it 1/2 and put a bobby pin through it as you drop it off the needle. When you come to the end of the round, RETURN the pinned knit stitch to the front needle (right arm forward) and the pinned purl stitch to the back needle (also right arm forward). Use these returned stitches to perform the last half of the Kitchener stitch maneuver on the final repeat. Tada! a perfect ending. (If this closing tip sounds mysterious and difficult, it will all come clear when you try it with yarn and needles--really! Is it worth it to fool with the final stitch like this? I think so: the last photo, above, includes the round end as finished according to this tip and I don't think it shows at all.)

ADDENDUM 5-6-09. If you click this link, you will be taken to a post by Revknits, who adapted the 1x1 tubular bind off for a 2x2 rib--and did a great job of it!

* * *
This is part 9 of a series. The other posts are:

How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 1: Opera and Soap Opera (November 1, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 2: Why cuffs and bands are wonky, and what to do about it (November 14, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 3: Hems and facings:(November 22, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 4: Knitting shut hems and facings (December 9, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 5: Sewing shut hems and facings (December 23, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 6: Your steam iron: a mighty weapon in the fight against curling and flipping (December 25, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 7: Zig-zag bands (December 29, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 8: Provisional tail method of 1x1 tubular cast on (January 11, 2008)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs: the wrap-up (January 23, 2008)

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: "Tubular bind off")

Friday, January 11, 2008

Provisional tail method of 1 x 1 tubular cast on

includes 8 illustrations
click any illustration to enlarge

There are several versions and variations of 1x1 tubular cast on. A popular method is Italian tubular cast on, and that is done over a knitting needle. Another method is like a long tail cast on, and here is an excellent link, with a video. Yet a third method is involves a provisional casting on, then picking up the loop tails, and here is a link to that (scroll to last method).

And yet: even with all this expert, well-thought-out instruction available, and with all these lovely methods and videos, I still (stubbornly, perhaps) prefer my own method best, a method I will call the "provisional tail" tubular cast on (to distinguish it from the "provisional" method of the last link, above).

I find this method fast, easy to make and easy to withdraw the tail from. Like all tubular casting on, this method creates a springy edge--as springy as if an elastic were inserted--and has a pleasant-feeling rounded edge which stands up well to wear and looks well.

Provisional tail tubular cast on is done in THREE PHASES:
  • The first phase consists of the cast on.
  • The second phase consists of four foundation rows: two on the front and two on the back.
  • The third phase consists of the true 1x1 ribbing.

1. (below) The first step is to knot together the casting-on yarn (the yarn for the garment, blue in the illustration) with a piece of yarn of a contrasting color--the provisional tail yarn (green in the illustration) You should be able to recover the provisional tail yarn, so you can take any ball from your stash--but choose a thin yarn, a sock yarn if possible.

Arrange the yarn on your hands as shown. Your right hand tensions the knotted-together yarn ends AND operates the needle, your left hand anchors the other end of both yarns, keeping them spread apart. (This will conceivably be easier for continental knitters than for English-style.)

The hand set-up is very reminiscent of long tail casting-on, but the action is different. Specifically, with the needle in your right hand, reach the needle's tip UNDER the provisional tail yarn (green) and OVER the garment yarn (blue). This will hook a loop of blue over the needle. Withdraw the needle with the blue loop on it by moving the tip of the needle once again UNDER the contrast yarn. The complete path of the needle is shown by the red arrow. (To see greater detail, click any illustration, and each will enlarge to a close-up.)
2. (below) The result step 1, above, should be a single loop of blue yarn on the right needle, anchored in place by the green provisional tail, as shown below.

To make the next blue loop, simply hook the needle tip UNDER the blue yarn, following the path shown by the red arrow.
3. (below) Repeating steps 1 and 2 will result in blue loops over your needle, alternating as "front side" loops and "back side" loops. In other words, there will be a loop which has both tails stands IN FRONT of the green provisional tail, followed by a loop with has both tail strands BEHIND the green provisional tail. In the illustration below, the first stitch visible at the right is a "front side" loop, the second, a "back side" loop, and so on, alternating.

As you can see, it is necessary to end with a front side loop, as back side loops (the result of step 2, above) are not anchored.
At the end of the first three steps (above) you have completed phase 1. In other words, you have competed the cast on phase. We turn now to the second phase, the four foundation rows.

4. (below) When you turn the work around after the cast on, you begin the first of four foundation rows. As you can see, the first stitch on your right needle will be a back side loop (ie: the reverse of the front side loop with which you ended in step 3). It would be my advice to keep this stitch as a selvedge stitch, the foundation for a side seam of chained selvedge stitches. Whatever edge treatment you choose, however, it will be necessary to knit this first loop, in order to anchor it onto your needle. Specifically, to work the foundation row, transfer the needle loaded with loops to your left hand, take an empty needle in your right hand, and knit the first stitch, following the path of the red arrow, as shown. The illustration shows continental knitting with its left-handed yarn feed, but if you are knitting English style (throwing) the action of the right hand and the path of the needle is identical--the only difference is that the yarn would feed off the other hand.
5. (below) a. Knitting the edge stitch will anchor the first loop on your right needle, as shown in illustration 5.

b. Once this selvedge stitch is knit, you will begin to establish a pattern, the first step of which is to knit the front side loops--the "knit" looking loops. To knit, follow the path shown by the red arrow.

I see from the comments that there is a certain lack of communication with steps 5 and 6.  In step 5, as illustrated below, the knit-looking stitch is knit as ALL knits are knit, that is, with the yarn held in the BACK--that is the blue yarn with the arrow hooked around it.

6. (below) The second step in the pattern is to SLIP the "purls," the back-side loops. Illustration 6, below, shows that the back side loop is simply being transferred from the left needle to the right needle, while the working yarn is brought to the front, and then held out of the way of the fabric--in the illustration, the yarn is being held below the fabric--the point being that the "purls" are to be slipped, without involving the running yarn in the process. In the transfer, the tip of the right needle inserts PURLWISE into the loop to be slipped, which keeps the transferred back-side loop "open" (untwisted).

Again, the comments show that steps 5 and 6 are, perhaps, not well communicated.  Here's the thing: AFTER you knit the knit-looking stitch (as shown in step 5), you bring the yarn to the FRONT and THEN hold it out of the way while you slip the purl-looking stitch to the right needle.  When you let go of the yarn (in other words, after you have slipped the stitch and you're done holding it out of the way) the yarn remains on the front, yes.  After step 6, however, you go back and repeat step 5, which, if you'll recall, is a knit sort of stitch.  But, you can't knit with the yarn in front of the fabric, so you FIRST have to SWITCH the yarn to the BACK OF THE FABRIC before you can do step 5.  As stated, step 5 is then again followed by step 6, so you'd once again switch the yarn forward to perform step 6, then switch back again for step 5, then switch forward again for 6, and so on to the end of the row.  If this addendum still doesn't clear things up, someone write to me again in the comments, OK?  Thanks!

7. Continue knitting the front-side loops, and slipping the back-side loops until you get to the end of the row. This completes the first foundation row.

8. For the second foundation row, turn the work. Repeat steps 5 and 6. In other words, turn the work as you did in step 4, then knit the front-side loops (which are actually the loops you slipped in the first foundation row) and slip the back-side loops (which are actually the stitches you knit in the first foundation row).

9. When you get to the end of the second foundation row, turn the work. You have now established a pattern where the columns growing out of the front side loops are to be knit, while the columns growing out of the back side loops are to be slipped. Repeat this pattern for an additional two rows, alternating knits and slips. You should have now worked a total of 5 rows: ONE cast on row, TWO rows of knitting the front side loops and slipping the back-side loops, and TWO rows of knitting the stitches in the columns growing out of the front-side loops, and slipping the stitches in the columns growing out of the back-side loops.

10. This step is easy! You now knit the knits and PURL the purls (no more slipping.) Continue until the band is as wide as you want.

11: The last step is to remove the provisional take. Specifically, After you've gone worked a few rows of the 1x1 ribbing, undo the knot holding the provisional tail onto the garment yarn, and pull out the provisional tail.

In the illustration at right, the provisional tail is the maroon yarn. The 3-picture sequence shows the tail in, the tail half drawn out, and the tail all the way out.

We'll end with a little ...

Q & A

Q 1: What is all the slipping about? Why not just purl the back-side loops, instead of slipping them?
A: The photo below shows the very edge of the tubular cast on: white stitches are cast on over a maroon tail. As you can see, what you have actually done is cast on in the middle of a fabric. In other words, the cast-on is a series of stockinette stitches which lay across the provisional tail, and the loops on either side of the provisional tail are actually the "heads" (front-side loops) and "tails" (back-side loops), of those stitches.
When you slip the back loops, you are skipping the tails, and knitting into the heads only. When you turn and work back, you are skipping the heads, and knitting into the tails only. By knitting and slipping, then slipping and knitting, you are knitting the fabric out from the middle (In technical terms, you are creating two rows of "double-knitting.") This fabric is half as wide on each face as single knitting, and twice as thick. Now stockinette is very stretchy, and, this proportion: 1/2 the number of total stitches along a thick edge, widening out to a single thickness fabric after several rows luckily turns out to be the correct proportion for lovely stretchy edge. If you were to purl right away, you would not have an nice, thick edge to stretch, you would have an thin, but wider edge, which would tend to flare and ruffle.

Q 2: Why is this called "tubular" cast on?
A: By casting on in the middle of the fabric, you are actually knitting outwards in both directions from the middle. When you begin the true ribbing--the k 1, p 1 ribbing, you are uniting the two sides of the fabric, with the little scrap of knitting between the two sides thus folded into a mini-tube. (The tube is the part where the provisional tail lies, and when you pull out that tail, you are sliding the tail out of the tube.)

Q 3: Are there any tricks to this to improve the tubular cast on further?
A: YES! As stated in the directions, you ought to cast on over a thin yarn, but in addition, you ought to cast on over a SMALL NEEDLE. I use a needle 3 sizes smaller than the size in which I will knit the garment. I switch to a needle 2 sizes larger after I have knit all four foundation rows--in other words, on the first true row of knit 1, p1 ribbing. By starting with a very small needle, I get a really springy cast-on which draws in as well as if an elastic had been inserted.

Q 4: Why are the directions for back-and-forth knitting? Why no directions for circular knitting?
A: Casting this on by this method on a circular needle will lead to a twisted mess where the cast-on slides over onto the cable. I find it best to make the cast-on and four foundation rows over a straight needle (or the straight portion of a circular needle) and then switch to a knitting in the round. At the end, I use the hanging tail to sew up the little gap at the bottom. (BTW: it is easy to hide the tail after sewing--just run it into the tube at the edge of the ribbing!)

If you are a purist determined to try tubular cast-on in the round, consider casting on over double pointed needles rather than circular needles. When you join, the first foundation round is the same as the first foundation row (steps 5 b and 6) : knit the front-side loops and slip the back-side loops. However, the second round differs. On the second round, you must PURL the previously slipped stitches, while slipping the previously KNIT stitches. Repeat these two rounds once more for a total of four foundation rounds.

Q 5: Does this work for socks?
A: Socks are a subset of the circular knitting referred to in question 4. It makes a lovely edge but it is a little fiddly to get the sock cuff started. Therefore, if I want to make socks by this method, I work the cast on and the first four foundation rows back and forth, then start the circular knitting with the first round of true k1, p1 ribbing.

Q 6: Last question: this post started with three different methods of tubular cast on: Italian, long-tail, and provisional and you have described a fourth method in this post--provisional tail. Why are there so many ways to create tubular casting on?
A: Actually, all four methods create more or less the same final result. I prefer the provisional tail method detailed here because it goes faster than some; because it is more elastic than some; because experience has shown me that 4 foundation rows are just about right, and these foundation rows are easy to work (and count!) by this method; and because the provisional tail is in a contrasting yarn, making it easier to find and pull out. (However, truthfully: having tried them all, all these methods for tubular cast on make a pretty good edge. Probably the most important reason of all that I prefer this method is because it is what I am used to! And did I mention? It is fast.)

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This is part 8 of a series. The other parts of this series are:

How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 1: Opera and Soap Opera (November 1, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 2: Why cuffs and bands are wonky, and what to do about it (November 14, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 3: Hems and facings:(November 22, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 4: Knitting shut hems and facings (December 9, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 5: Sewing shut hems and facings (December 23, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 6: Your steam iron: a mighty weapon in the fight against curling and flipping (December 25, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 7: Zig-zag bands (December 29, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 9: Tubular cast off for 1x1 ribbing (it's pretty) (January 15, 2008)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs: the wrap-up (January 23, 2008)

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: "Tubular cast on for 1/1 ribbing")