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")