I admit it: I'm paying the gal at the LYS (and anyone else I can find) to knit for me. Last night she called me up and said she thought one of the patterns for the you-know needed some adjustments and would I mind popping in to try it on and see what needs to be done?
And isn't that cool? That I could pop in and try it on? I was just thinking that, if I were to design it from the hem up, the trying-on part wouldn't happen until much later, and oh man. The price I would pay her to re-knit the sucker from the bottom up, once it reaches my bust, or worse, the shoulder.
All that aside, as I have worked on this project, I have been thinking about how to make fabulous sweaters and such and being able to sort of design as you go, and since only a handful of them are the raglan type, I have had to utilize the dreaded Provisional Cast On.
Truth be told: I didn't really figure it all out until last night. (Just don't tell my editor.)
Some of the Provisional Cast On techniques utilize a chain you make using a crochet hook. Another one that works pretty well entails actually crocheting stitches directly onto your knitting needle. There are some knitting types, but honestly, you'd have to be some sort of a knitting savant to figure that out.
I'm not the tutorial kind of gal, but shoot. I want to encourage you guys to flex your Provisional Cast-On muscles so when my book comes out, you don't all faint in one fell swoop and next thing we know the government is shutting down all the local yarn stores due to some strange fugue that all of a sudden felled a big long line of knitters. (Was it the stuff they washed the alpaca with? Some funky dung? What about all those bunny-hair fibers? Could it be those knitters sniffed too many angora yarn balls and their lungs, eyelashes and nose hairs decided to shut down?)
So, just to test the waters, I thought I'd ask HWWV to take a few pics of the beginnings of my favorite, and what I consider the most effective, provisional cast-on. I'm thinking if you like this, I'll continue the series and maybe we all can come up with a fun and easy pattern utilizing the technique that we can do together. You know, something to sort of warm us all up.
1. First thing you do is find some funky, slippery yarn that you don't plan on using. Call it your Waste Yarn (My waste yarn is the yellow stuff).
2. Get your "working yarn" ready (My working yarn is the fuchsia stuff).
3. I'm assuming you know the long-tail cast on: Get ready for your long-tail cast on, but before you do that, make a slip knot with both of the yarns and place it over your needle. You know, just make your slip knot with both of them side-by-side.
4. Then, set up for your long-tail cast on, but put the non-working--or waste yarn--over your thumb. The working yarn goes over the index finger.
5. Cast on, as usual, but notice as you do this that the waste yarn makes a nice chain at the bottom of your needle. If you make a working loop (one that sits over your needle) with your waste yarn, then you've make a mistake.
6. Before you cut the waste yarn, check and see that all the working yarn is looped on the needle and the waste yarn is "chained" below it. Count your stitches--but don't count the original slip knot for your final count. Cut your waste yarn, turn your work, and begin working your stitches as called for in the pattern. When you reach your slip knot, drop it. Let it hang while you knit.
7. When it's time to place the stiches you cast on provisionally, all you need to do is unzip the stitches (very slowly) and place them on your needle. Start from where you cast on. Slowly pull out the waste yarn to reveal your live stitches. Just note that if your first row calls for fancy stitches, like yarn-overs and such, you'll need to take extra care.
This is a fantastic way to start working a knitting project at a place where we would normally place a seam or switch directions. If we cast on provisionally, all we need to do is place these live stitches back on the needles and work in the new direction without a seam.
Seamless (I can remember wearing panty hose, and let me tell you the seams, they used to stay on my skin for at least twelve hours after I tore them off while driving home in traffic) is pretty cool. Seamless is your friend. Especially when you don't want a nasty bump-ridge along the line across your shoulder. The one that shouts: "This is Hand-Made and My Seam is Wonky As All Get-Out."
Anyway. The best explanation of the Provisional Cast On is one I found in "When Bad Things Happen to Good Knitters: An Emergency Survival Guide." You'd think that in this little book there'd be nothing but basic stuff, but reading through it, well, it's a goldmine. I've read and re-read everything there is to know about Provisional Cast-on's, but when I read pages 30 - 32 in this book, it all came clear.
Kind of like that cool little thing taped on the wall at the doctor's office, the thing they split in half and wave under your nose when you faint. It was eye-opening like that.