Knitters have come up with countless ways to get the first set of stitches on the needles. It’s always amazing to discover yet another type of cast on. Recently, I’ve been doing research about mittens and found a simple and beautiful way to cast on stitches in the “Latvian Mittens: Traditional Designs & Techniques” book by Lizbeth Upitis.
This cast on is often done in two colours. It looks as if each stitch is wrapped with yarn in a contrasting colour, as you can see in the photo below:
It is a great way to add a special touch to any project, even if that project is knit with a solid colour, and the cast on will be the only speck of another colour. Actually, this cast on will look ESPECIALLY good on a project like that!
Let’s see how to make this two colour cast on that Latvian knitters love so much.
Align two strands of yarn and make a slip knot using both strands. This slip knot is temporary, and we will unravel it later on. So it doesn’t count as a stitch.
Align two needles and hold them together in your right hand. Place the slip knot on the needles.
By holding two needles together, we will create a looser cast on. And that’s a good thing for two reasons:
(a) Bigger stitches will make working the first row quite easy, especially if you are a tight knitter.
(b) Looser stitches will better highlight the decorative wraps made with the yarn in a contrasting colour.
Place the yarn that you plan to use for the border (contrasting colour) on your left thumb, and the yarn that you plan to use for the stitches (main colour) on your left index finger. Then hold both strands with the other three left fingers, as it is shown in this part of the video tutorial.
This set up is very similar to the regular long-tail cast, but this time we use two colours and two needles instead of one.
Aside from making a more decorative edge, this cast on has another benefit when compared to the long-tail cast on – there is no need to leave a long tail. And that means there is no need to guesstimate the length of that tail, and no chance to run out of tail before we finish casting on stitches. Such a relief! 🙂
Insert both needles held together under the strand that is at the front of your left thumb and move them inside the loop created by the contrasting colour yarn around the thumb.
Now pick the main colour yarn and pull it through the loop.
Pull the contrasting colour yarn to tighten the bottom of the stitch, but don’t make it too tight. Looser stitches will make a nicer-looking edge.
We’ve just cast on our first stitch (remember, the slip knot doesn’t count as a stitch!).
Repeat steps 4 and 5 to cast on as many stitches as you need for your project. Then pull one of the needles out, turn your work and get ready to work on the first row.
There is one thing to remember – this cast on is not reversible. Before you make the first row, decide which of the sides you like better.
If you prefer to have the wraps on the right side of your project (like the edge shown in the photo above), start working with a wrong side row. Or, simply purl all stitches for one row and count it as a set-up row.
Once you work all stitches in the first row and get to the slip knot, slip it off the left needle and pull the yarn tail to unravel the knot. Watch how it happens.
If you don’t plan to use the contrasting colour yarn in your project, cut it leaving a small tail.
The cast on is finished. Now work on your project, and weave in both contrasting colour tails when it’s time to hide the yarn ends.