June 2020 Meeting Recap: Cheryl Murray talks Cast-ons, Bind-offs: Basic and Beyond, Member Tips, and Show & Tell
by Kimberly Williams
The raffle is back! Our board members have been hard at work in the last month to bring the raffle to our virtual meetings. And it was a success! Three lucky people will be receiving their prizes in the days to come.
On a serious note, the past weeks have been difficult as well as inspiring. When we formed this guild three years ago, our main mission was to create a diverse community of knitters. Now the board enhances that vision by committing our organization to being an anti-racist community of fiber artists. Please join us in the hard work ahead.
Check out and support BIPOC makers, designers, and dyers. Below are just a few of the many talented Black members of the fiber community.
Kathryn Gearheard updated us on our sister guild, the Brave Girls Knitting Guild. In her previous visits, Kathryn taught the members to knit using straight needles and they showed no sign of interest in circular needles. However, as they delve into the realm of baby sweaters, they have joined Team Circular. When the world opens back up again, we will host a circular needle drive to add to the straight needles we have already collected. It is inspiring to see the Brave Girls using knitting as a marketable skill rather than just as a hobby.
Anna knocked it out of the park again with our member tip. This week she showed us a new way to count rows and how to place a running stitch marker using a darning needle and contrasting yarn. To count rows, run a needle up through a column of knitting and gently separate. Count the bars revealed to get your row count. Oh boy, does this change my knitting world! And then, Anna took it even further by showing us how to keep track of those rows. Check out the video to see how she does it. This technique can help track increases, decreases, and the length of the work. Not to mention motivate you on neverending stretches of sweaters or socks.
Member tip themes! I told you that Anna was on fire this month. To help inspire us and jog our brains on the great things we know that others might not, we will now have member tip themes. Each month, Anna will tell us the theme. If you have an idea or trick, send us an email and Anna will incorporate it into her presentation. July’s theme: Non-knitting things you use as knitting tools. For example, Anna uses a bread clip to wind up tails until she weaves them in.
Capitalizing on our virtual meetings, we went all the way to Kansas City to bring you Cheryl Murray’s presentation on casting on and binding off. She is a teacher of 15 years, designer, member of the Sunflower Knitting Guild, frequent customer of Yarn Barn, and known as Prairieknits on Ravelry, Twitter, and Instagram.
We all have our tried and true method we prefer to cast on and bind off. However, if a designer calls for a specific cast on method, Cheryl says there is probably a reason, for example, a particular look or desired stretchiness. You may also want to try a different method to achieve a decorative feature or use a provisional method to keep live stitches to add something extra later.
There’s no way Cheryl could cover all the numerous methods, so she outlined some problems with the standard long tail cast on and some tips to overcome them. First, long tail cast on needs a tail, right? But how much? I have definitely cast on a whole lot of stitches only to run out of yarn at the last few required. I have also started over when I ended up with way too much tail that I couldn’t stand to leave and waste that yarn. Yep, even started over when the cast on number was multiple hundreds. Cheryl, thank goodness, gave us some rules of thumb to guesstimate the length of tail. If your finished dimension is 20”, multiple 20 times 3 to get the length of tail you need. Or allow 1” for every stitch e.g. 40st = 40” (these tricks usually work for worsted weight). Or wrap the yarn around your needle 10 times, then measure the length. If it is really important, cast on 10 stitches, then pull them out and measure the length.
Next, Cheryl addressed the issue of long tail cast ons being too tight, either to knit into or as a finished edge. Use a finger on your left needle to eyeball and mark the spacing between cast on stitches. You can cast on using a larger needle but that doesn’t always work. She advises practicing until you cast on properly. Remember, hug your needle with the yarn, don’t strangle it. I thought that was a great way to focus my cast on energy.
The last issue Cheryl discussed was the reversibility of the long tail cast on. Typically it is not a reversible method. Meaning, the long tail cast on makes a row of knitting. If you turn and start working your right side row, that cast on row is the opposite of what it should be. Some patterns fix this by adding a purl row before the pattern starts. If it doesn’t, you can add one in, but double check it doesn’t mess up counts. Or cast on purlwise. All you do is reverse the order of the knitwise long tail cast on. You can even cast on in pattern which is great for ribbing which gives the edge a little extra stretch.
Cheryl also demonstrated the Estonian method with the optional double yarn start for an even more decorative edge. And lastly was the Twisted German cast on, also known as the German Long Tail cast on, and also as the Old Norwegian cast on.
As too tight bind offs are a common problem, Cheryl covered a few ways to help. If you need just a little extra stretch, try the Suspended bind off. This method basically prevents you from pulling too tight. The Elastic bind off is also good for just a bit more stretch. If you need to stretch the edge to the extreme for a lace shawl, try the yarn over method or Russian Lace bind off. So much great information here and in her handout. Thanks, Cheryl.
Cheryl recommended these two books: Cast On, Bind Off: 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting and Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods
Once again several people sent in pictures of their finished projects and we were able to put together our virtual show and tell.
Want to watch the full meeting? Click here.
Missives from the fabulous women who got the ball (of yarn) rolling.