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How to Become an "Expert Knitter"   *Buy this book on CD for offline reading!

table of contents chapter 5 (of 29)

5: Casting On

Before you start to cast on, if you are using yarn that has been purchased as a ball, find the centre of the ball and gently pull out the end of the yarn. Then knit with that end instead of the end on the outside of the ball. The yarn will feed out easily and the ball stays in one place instead of rolling around. You will really notice a difference if you are knitting with two or more colours. The balls sit obediently where you put them instead of tangling with each other. If the thread at the centre is difficult to find, pull out the smallest amount possible and then locate the centre end [pic 1].

1: Ready to go!

At the risk of boring you, I will say again that you must remember to leave a long end in case you need to use that thread when you come to make up the garment.

A hand knitted garment is usually started at the band, hem, bottom, or basque. Whatever it is called, it is important that the cast-on row should not be too tight or too loose. If the row is too tight, the shape of the band will be distorted. The cast-on stitches will be smaller than the stitches making up the pattern stitch or rib used for the band, and these stitches above the cast-on row will gather and distort. The stretch will be limited by the tightness of the cast-on row, and as the garment is being worn, the tight row could break because there will be extra strain. When the cast-on row is too loose, the band could stretch and the edge will be uneven and lumpy. The ideal cast-on row should allow the band to stretch, but then snap back into place without remaining stretched.
If you find it hard to cast on loosely, but evenly, try using a needle one size larger for that row than the size you intend to use for the rest of the band [pic 2].

2: Top: Cast on row is too tight...    
Middle: Cast on row is loose and untidy...
Bottom: Cast on row is just right!
(sounds like Papa, Momma & Baby Bear!)