When it comes to those ugly bumps at the cast-on edge, my skin crawls. Those bumps are a common knitting problem — dare I call them an “error”? However, it’s easy to avoid them once you understand that your cast-on has a right side and a wrong side.
The following explanations and video apply to right-handed knitters. Left-handed knitters, you may be casting on and knitting differently, but you should read and watch the video to understand the concept. Adapt it as necessary to fit your knitting technique.
Long-Tail Cast On
When you cast on stitches using the long-tail method, the stitches are on the right needle at the completion of the cast on. You are looking at what is generally considered the “right side” of the cast on.
When you turn needle to put it in your left hand in preparation to work the first row, the purl side of the cast on is facing you. It’s usually considered the “wrong side” of the cast on.
If you knit that first row, you are knitting a wrong side row. This is perfectly fine if you are working garter stitch or reverse stockinette stitch, but stockinette stitch is “knit right side rows, purl wrong side rows”.
If you knit the first row after a long-tail cast-on, you’ll get a series of purl bumps on the right side (the knit side).
Instead of knitting the first row, simply purl the first row (a wrong side row), and continue with stockinette stitch.
Cable Cast On
When you cast on stitches with the cable cast on method, the stitches are on the left needle at the completion of the cast on. The right side of the cast on is facing you, and you don’t have to turn the needle around to start the first row. Therefore, knit the first row to avoid the bumps.
Knitted Cast On
The knitted cast on works the same way as the cable cast on. The cast on stitches are on the left needle, so just knit the first row and there won’t be any bumps.
No matter which cast on you use — and there are many more than these to choose from — pay attention to whether it has a smooth side and a bumpy side. In most cases, choose the smooth side as your right side and work the first row accordingly. You’ll avoid those bumps on your cast-on edge, and the State Fair knitter in you can be proud.
For more knitting tips, visit Knit: Basics & Beyond.
Thank you very much, Edie. That is lovely. I am not sure if I remember this correctly, but I think that Barbara Walker came at the same solution from what might be the underlying issue.
I think she says that the long-tail cast-on actually includes the first row of knitting. Again, all from distant memory, but I think she says that in stockinette stitch, row 1 is always a purl row, a wrong side row.
This would explain why those bumps are there to begin with! (Or so I think.)
Thank you, again.
Yes, that’s exactly right. If you look carefully when you are doing the long-tail cast on, you can see you are bringing one loop through another, just like knitting. This is something I remember I worked out for myself when I was very young, way before I learned about the *amazing* Barbara Walker.I think these little details are what makes knitting so fascinating!
Hi Edie, See all that is NOT taught or said when starting to learn this intriguing craft! I’m in my sixties and learning as I go. Believe me mistakes are a foundation of learning, I think. Its the little thgs tht are the make or rip out of a project. Or it cld be someone wld not take it for granted these little thgs are already known, and teach or write a book on ALL THINGS KNITTED!
Thank you so much.