Raise your hand if your cast-on stitches tend to be too tight to work into, or the cast-on edge of your fabric looks less than perfect? We’ve talked before about how to keep your tension from being too tight when knitting colorwork — as in, Mary Jane Mucklestone’s sage advice to keep the stitches on your right-hand needle spread to their natural width as you go. My pal Veronika Jobe of YOTH Yarns (currently touring the eastern US) points out the same goes for your cast-on. Generally speaking, when stitches are bunched tightly on the right-hand needle, it can lead to tension problems. If you snug every new cast-on stitch right up against the one next to it (as in the top photo), they’ll have a stranglehold on the needle. Without any “float” — or padding — between them, there’s no way for the stitch to make way as you attempt to insert your needle tip into it. Instead, place each new stitch on the right-hand needle about a stitch-width from the one before it (see second photo), keeping them as evenly spaced as possible, and creating a uniform row of stitches along the underside of the needle (bottom left photo). Not only will that make it easier for you to work your first row, it will leave you with a nice clean edge on the finished fabric.
These photos are of a long-tail cast-on, but some version of this advice will apply to pretty much any cast-on style you might be doing. (See also: Q for You: How do you cast on?)
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