or rather, entry day - on Thursday August 2nd (midmorning, Toronto time) I'll do a magic Random Number Generator trick to gift a copy of Leslie Ann Bestor's Cast On, Bind Off to some lucky reader who commented on this post. More details on that at the end.
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If you've been following along on the blog tour, you will have a very clear understanding of
a/ the awesome functionality of the book's spiral binding;
b/ the clarity and thoroughness of the description and illustration for each method covered; and
c/ its compact size for toting around wherever you take your knitting.
Today I would like to tell you a different story.
A few months ago, I got very interested in knitting a crescent shawl. I have a lot of triangles and they're great - plus, super easy to shape while knitting - but did I say 'a lot'? and they don't all stay on and nicely draped even if I pin them, plus I'm unconvinced this is the best shape for me. I just don't wear triangles all that fabulously, and a more hugging-shaped crescent seemed like a great idea. So I bought a pattern I loved
and drew some very precious yarn from my stash
and found some needles I knew I'd enjoy using
and sat down to cast on the 10 or so stitches that would start my shawl.
And was stymied. See, the pattern specified that these 10 or so stitches should be created using cable cast on, and I had no idea what that was. I know that if a designer specifies a particular type of cast on or bind off, you're supposed to do it - they've given thought to the matter, after all - but I didn't feel like going upstairs to hunt through all my books and/or search YouTube for cable cast on videos that I would then have to sift through for one that actually made sense to me.
So I shrugged, and cast on using longtail, which was the only cast on method I knew.
Seriously: I've been actively knitting since I was 15, which is A Very Long Time Ago, and whoever taught me to cast on didn't mention slip knots so I don't even do that. How can I be a grownup-ish person and longtime knitter and not know how to do a slipknot? Easily, apparently.
About 20 rows into the shawl I knew I had made a terrible mistake, but if I didn't feel like looking up cable cast on before, I certainly didn't feel like looking up cable cast on now so I could rip out to start the shawl all over. I just kept hoping I'd be able to block out the terrible roll I was getting at the top center of the shawl from my too-tight cast on technique.
I wasn't able to though. The shawl's cast on ended up looking like this:
and I ended up looking sad. It's such great yarn, and such a cute pattern, and I really messed up. Lucky I have long hair and nobody but me (and all of you guys) have to know the top of the scarf I have around my neck is curling in on itself.
(in case you want to know, the dreamy pattern is Rose Beck's Sugared Violets; the dreamy yarn is from Emily's out of production Viola line.)
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All of which is to explain why, when I was invited a couple of months later to participate in this blog tour and receive a review copy of this book I didn't wait to say SIGN ME UP! The opportunity was, as you might say, made for me.
Naturally, since I am extra busy these days, my idea to prep for today's very special post was to begin a new shawl. I chose special yarn and a beautiful pattern and some good needles and sat down with all of them plus Cast On, Bind Off and
you won't believe this
the pattern recommends a longtail cast on.
But if it hadn't, and I'd had to do cable, I would have been just fine. I know because when I looked in the very orderly Index I found three different entries for cable cast on, including a reference to the manner of slipping stitches when doing one, a photograph of how pretty it is, and a three-page description with photographs of how it's done.
(this last reference identifies cable cast on as firm and inelastic, which makes me wonder how it would be better than longtail for Sugared Violets, but that's probably something I shouldn't think too much about at this point.)
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Now, as it happens, an awful lot of we knitters started a special project the other day to knit while watching the Olympics, and I am no exception. What I cast on is mittens built from twined knitting, a technique on which I took a one-day class just over a year ago, aka long enough to forget everything, especially the cast on method.
Never fear, Cast On, Bind Off is here!
The books covers a special cast on for twined knitting in three colours that is lovely... except that I am using one colour and was trying to watch the Opening Ceremonies at the same time, so I couldn't figure out how to follow the pictures. I quickly switched to the much more appropriate two-colour braided cast on and did it with the two stands of my single-colour yarn choice. Easy as pie, including the slipknot I had to learn how to do from the pictures at the front of the book. I think I'd have to refer back to it a few times to get 'slipknot' embedded in my brain, but who's gonna mind that in a book that's lightweight, compact, and practically exhaustive? Not me.
In the end, and without the gorgeous contrast of two colours, the cuff of my mitten project looks like this:
and yes, I did mess up on the sides there, but considering the distraction factor while I reviewed the instructions I think it still indicates the power of clear writing and illustrations. Thank you Leslie Ann!
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Okay, that is the end of my very long story about casting on. Do you have a cast on and/or bind off story to tell? Any thoughts on the subject to share? Feel free to add it to your comment - and please do comment, because I'd love for you to have a chance at having Storey Publishing send you a copy. There's no need to add an e-mail address into your comment if you have one linked to your profile, or better still if you drop in on Thursday August 2 (again, midmorning Toronto time) to see who won the Random Number Generator's heart - if you win, you can just e-mail me your address.
Good luck! and be sure to drop in at The Knit Girllls on Monday the 30th too, for one more chance at winning a copy of the book.
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And... comments are now closed. Thanks guys!