Two-Timing, and an Exhortation
October 30, 2008
Dear Wind Beneath My Wings,
Ferocious knitting mojo down here right now–I don’t know what has come over me, but really, I’ve been knitting like . . . well, like you. Give me five minutes sitting still–waiting for the pasta water to boil, waiting for a parent-teacher conference–and I’m cranking a few rows. And this new project is pretty much perfect for this sort of thing.
It’s Mary Neal Meador’s Margaret sweater from our book. In a really slutty moment, I cast on for this before I had finished sewing up Yank. I try to be serially monogamous about garment-knitting, but my resolve pretty much failed once I wound up a skein of the Harrisville Highland that I bought in Portland at the home of the Northwest’s Fastest Knitter, Knit Knot Studio. I was swatching at first, but it grew . . . you know . . .
Turns out I had to go up two needle sizes to get gauge–the pattern calls for size 5, but I ended up at size 7 to get 18 stitches/4″. Somehow the psychological crutch of a larger needle makes the whole project seem easier.
I think this yarn is one of the greats. There’s a sturdiness to it that makes me crazy–it’s not lush and soft, it’s resolute and unrepentantly traditional in its texture. I know it will soften up when I wash it, which is nice, but I love working with this even in its scrurchy state.
An Exhortation for the Invisible Cast On
Now. This project begins with a provisional cast on, because you’re knitting the bodice first in three pieces, then picking up the stitches along the bottom and knitting the skirt down from the waist.
I know a lot of people are fond of the provisional cast on that uses a crochet chain of stitches, but I am here to encourage you to try another provisional cast on method that is, in my opinion, easier, faster, and does not require the step of cranking a chain of crochet at all. No crochet hook required. Just your working yarn, a piece of waste yarn, the knitting needles that God gave you, and a flip of the wrist are all you need. The result is shown in the photo above: a set of loops ready to be knitted, with a thread of waste yarn through each one.
I learned this from Eunny Jang’s blog, the sadly dormant See Eunny Knit. I know she’s all busy editing Interweave Knits and all, but honestly, her blog was a thing of beauty and wonderment. Her archives live on!
About this lovely invisible cast on, she writes: “My favorite invisible cast-on is ridiculously simple–it amounts to making a series of yarn overs in a figure-eight around both the needle and a ‘holder,’ usually a bit of waste string. Using a smooth, fairly thick waste yarn for the foundation will go a long way towards keeping the stitches from twisting around the needle, and eventually make picking up the stitches much easier.
Here’s the how-to. Scroll down to Invisible Cast On for her instructions.
I found a video that shows this cast-on in action, with in the same elegant result, but the motions are a little different from Eunny’s. Here’s the video–scroll down to Invisible (Provisional) Cast-On.
This is the sort of stuff that makes me happy.
The Wings Above Your Wind