Meet Hannah, she's the latest pattern in my portfolio. I quite like her. She has a lovely mix of purl and knit stitches in her lace pattern and her crown, oh my, you should see her crown. That I really love! If you can't wait to see it, there's a photo further down in this post.
This version of Hannah is knit in Vintage Purls Max. This is a lovely dk/8ply weight yarn, a good mix of merino and nylon to give it some toughness. This sample has actually now left my home, it was knit as a gift for Toby's wee bestie's sixth birthday. Her name is Hannah and she likes pink, so much so that she chose this yarn for me to knit for her quite some time ago. She's organised like that. Perhaps a wee bit bossy too.
Apart from the ace lace pattern in Hannah that I love, it also includes instructions for a tubular cast-on. Have I perhaps mentioned before how much I love a tubular cast-on? The tubular cast-on that has quickly become my absolute favourite is the Alternative Long-tail Tubular Cast-on. Why is it alternative? Just because it's a wee bit different from the way you may have already been taught to do a long-tail tubular cast-on.
So why do I love this cast-on so much?
Let me explain now why you should embrace the Alternative Long-tail Tubular Cast-on.
The number one reason is that the beautiful rounded edge that a tubular cast-on provides is a thing of beauty; it is professional looking, polished and perfect. It is pleasing to the eye.
That really is it.
It. is. Stunning and makes you look like a shit-hot knitter.
I think sometimes knitters avoid things like tubular cast-ons because they're part of the unknown. They sound a bit scary like there might be something tricky that you have to do. Nothing tricky here though. If you can wrap the yarn around the needle you so can do this cast-on.
Seriously, long names like Alternative Long-tail Tubular Cast-on really don't help the cause. You know, I think a better name for this one is required. What about the Awesomest Rib Cast-on? Now that hardly seems daunting, does it? Would you be more likely to tackle a cast-on named that than the convoluted long version? Let's call it that from now on then, shall we.
Once upon a time in a knitting world long ago wonderful techniques like this were passed down from generation to generation, perhaps taught in a communal knitting circle. Techniques such as this were more commonplace. It was also more common for knitters to not use patterns and they had a wide arsenal of techniques to draw from. But then something happened. I suspect it had something to do with the production of printed patterns and that weird thing that started the technology assault in early to mid last century.
While knitters still produced beautiful garments, for the average knitter their arsenal of skills diminished greatly. If you look at a knitting pattern from mid to late last century, they are short on detail (save that paper! but they are also limited in terms of skills. Most patterns involved producing a series of very similar pattern piece shapes that were then seamed together. Tubular cast ons, provisional cast ons, short rows and even grafting; techniques that have now become far more familiar for the modern knitter, as they were for generations of yore, were rarely to be found in a pattern.
I love the fact that technology and the internet has once again changed the way we knit and reintroduced many of these older techniques to new knitters. It's so lucky some of these skills weren't completely lost; as has occurred with some ancient indigenous languages in my country. As artisans of this craft, I think it's important we preserve the depth of our craft with all its amazing techniques for all future knitters.
Let's get back to the Awesomest Rib Cast-on.
See that ribbing! The way it wraps beautifully around the edge of the hat. So lovely and the best thing about a well-worked tubular cast-on is that it is ELASTIC.
When I first learnt how to work a tubular cast-on, I learnt the Long-tail Tubular Cast-on, which in itself is a great cast on. However, on odd occasions I did find that it wasn't as elastic as I wanted it to be. I also find it really tricky retaining the knowledge as to how to do it, it's very similar to how I work a provisional cast-on so often I needed to double check instructions before working it.
The advantages of the Awesomest Rib Cast-on is that it is much easier to remember. It is repetitive and the movements are incredibly rhythmic. Once you're working it, it's also very easy to double check to see where you are up to in the cast-on process.
The traditional Long-tail Tubular Cast-on sets up the stitches so that the first one is a purl stitch. This doesn't wash with me. I want it to be neat and be a knit stitch. Guess what? The Awesomest Rib Cast-on sets up with a knit stitch first. Nice.
P.S. If you want to set up with a purl stitch first it can also be done.
Another thing I love about this cast-on is that it doesn't require extra notions, needles, waste yarn or crochet hooks. I've been undone before with wanting to cast-on on the spur of the moment and not having the extras required to do so. When you first start using the Awesomest Rib Cast-on you will want to work it on a straight needle to help keep your stitches organised but once you're accomplished and well practised, I can attest to the fact that it most certainly can be worked completely on a circular needle.
Additionally, I've not had any issues with this cast-on not having the elasticity and stretch I would expect of it. I think it might just be a bit more forgiving of teeny errors ;)
Dissertation aside...So do you want to see the Awesomest Rib Cast-on in action?
Here it is:
Rhythmic and repetitive.
What I also love about this cast-on is that I remember it. When I go to use it, I don't need to google it to get the starting point in my brain again or even remind me how to execute the whole process. This methods sticks!
I also use this method in my Uwland cowl pattern but It will work in any pattern that requires a 1x1 rib cast on.
So now for that crown shaping.
You can find Hannah on Ravelry in my store here.
It is written for a dk/8ply weight yarn and it graded to fit head sizes ranging from 14 to 24 inches, which covers newborn to a large adult.
Lace is charted and includes written instructions.
So, have I convinced you to give the Awesomest Rib Cast-on a go? I hope so!
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Textile artist, knitwear designer and teacher.
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