Saturday, September 03, 2011

Knitting Day Four: Casting Off and Weaving in Ends

When I started knitting, since I was just practicing, finishing was easy: I just pulled the stitches off the needle and unraveled the yarn. Eventually, I had to learn how to cast off (also called binding off) all the leftover stitches on my needle.

I opened the instruction booklet and pamphlet I'd purchased at Michael's and was instantly confused. The drawings didn't make sense, and what I did understand sounded impossible. Thankfully, Lion Brand has since posted a video on the subject. It's clear, easy to follow, and makes casting off seem far easier than anything we've done this week:

My life would have been so much easier if this had been available when I was learning!

Notice the instructor said to knit loosely. I'll talk a bit about tension tomorrow, but in short, relax your hands and don't tighten the yarn you're casting off. If you do, you'll end up with a project that looks pinched on the end. One with little flexibility:

And that looks good compared to my early efforts. Also, though the instructor said to knit the stitches while casting off, patterns sometime call for purling, or casting off in a rib pattern, which involves knitting some stitches, and purling others. This does not affect the way you cast off! The passing of one stitch over the other occurs on the right-handed needle, after you've knitted or purled your stitches.

Weaving in the Ends:

Back when I crocheted, the part I disliked the most was weaving in those long strands of yarn (tails) on the corners, and at the spot where I added another skein of yarn. I'd take a crochet hook and later, a tapestry needle, and do my best to weave the tails through the stitches so they were invisible. So I was dismayed when I found myself doing the same in a knitting project.

And then someone sent me this link, and everything changed:

Sorry, no video, but the pictures explain it all. As you can see, this method is easy, and the final product blends in with the project. I use it, and love it.

So far this week, we learned to cast stitches onto a knitting needle. We knitted some stitches and purled others, and now we've learned how to cast off those stitches and weave in the ends. This is the foundation of knitting. Now, you can do anything! Yes, there are other stitches to learn, but they're all based on these techniques.

In my last post of this series, I'll talk about reading and finding patterns (free ones are good, and there are plenty out there), maintaining tension in a project, learning more stitches, and then I'll provide links I hope will be helpful.

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