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