Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Design Your Own Aran, Part Seven: Casting On

The moment has come to get into the "knitty gritty" of this project. Here are some important points to keep in mind as you prepare to dive in:

Needles: If you've decided to add ribbing, go down one needle size for that part of the knitting. I'm using a Size US #8/ 5 mm needle for my body, so I cast on with a US #7/ 4.5 mm for the ribbing. Even if you're not adding ribbing, cast on with a smaller needle and use it for the first row before switching over to the needle you used for your gauge swatch. This will prevent the lower edge from flaring out (unless that's what you want, of course). I suggest going with a 32" circular needle. In my size, 36", I can fit everything onto a 24" circular, but it makes for a less than pleasant experience as the work ends up being rather squished. 

Use a longtail cast on: This is simple, tidy, and after the first row has a lot of stretch. My go-to choice. A common problem knitters have when casting on a lot of stitches with this method is that the yarn tail has a tendency to "unspin" itself. This is especially likely to happen with woollen spun yarns such as Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter. Try Lucy Neatby's trick here for preventing this. That woman is so clever!

The first row will be a WS row: When you work the longtail cast on, you create a sort of "outline stitch" (as in embroidery) along the bottom edge on one side and little purl bumps on the other side. For this project, I prefer the outline stitch edge to be the right side. That means that the first row you work will be a wrong side row. Regardless of whether or not you are using ribbing, the first and last stitches in this row will be purled since they are selvedge stitches (see last post). Make your last row of ribbing a RS row, because...

The first row of cable patterning should be a WS row: It's not a good idea to launch immediately into cable patterning right from the ribbing. It's best to start with a row that has no cable turnings in it at all, which generally means a wrong side row. In my case I started with Row 16 of my chart instead of Row 1. This allows all the knit and purl stitches to be put into place before the first cable turnings in Row 1. Likewise, you don't want to work too many rows from the start of the aran patterns before starting the cabling or you'll notice that the knitting draws in unattractively at the point of the first cables (this isn't usually a problem since most aran patterns involve some cabling on every RS row). I find that working one WS row before starting the cabling is perfect. 

Use markers as necessary: I like to use different coloured markers for setting out the cable panels and the sides and centre back of the cardigan.

Decide how you are going to follow your chart: I ended up wanting to mirror image my cables. This meant a longer than usual chart, which in turn meant that using post-it notes to indicate my place was out -- sticky notes would have been falling off continuously. Instead, I chose to use a magnetic board (this one is from Knitpicks). I don't have a tablet, but you could go digital if you have one, for extra portability.

Now for a preview of what's ahead. Here's the body of my cardigan, almost-but-not-quite-completed, soaking in a tub. All the stitches are on a long length of waste yarn, and you can see on the right that the ball of wool is still attached.

After the soaking, I pinned the knitting out to its desired measurements on a towel.


Now it's really starting to look like something!

Part 8 is here