The first socks I knit had no stretch, were cast on too tightly, and never worn. For many years they stayed in my parents’ chest of drawers because only a parent could love those socks. 😉
I remember knitting them, having learned to knit a year or two before. My mother bought me a kit to knit argyle socks, and I was using knitting bobbins for the first time. Also I  was knitting for the first time with colors and in the round. In retrospect, it was a project far beyond my years — both in knitting experience and my actual age. Still, I stubbornly completed two socks.
If you’ve ever had a sweater, a hat, or a pair of gloves with a too-tight band, you know the pitfalls of casting on too tightly: not only can the edge constrict and be uncomfortable, they can also wear unevenly or even fray.
Knitting loosely can also be critical when knitting lace, or an edging that’s irregular, like a rippled afghan or entrelac. That is if you want the edge to lie flat, and not pull funny.

Loose cast on

Loose cast on

There are several ways to cast on loosely. Some are better for certain projects, or certain knitters. Not every cast on technique fits every knitter. It’s okay to pick and choose the technique you like. Learning more than one technique can come in handy. You may want a different edge depending upon the yarn, the pattern, or even just the project.
Is one of these your favorite method to cast on loosely?

  • Adjusting the tension in the yarn to cast on loosely.
  • Casting on a larger needle: one that’s a size or two larger than the needles with which you’ll be knitting.
  • Holding two needles together to cast on. You hold the needles as if they are one, and may want to slip one off before starting to knit.
  • Casting on with two needles and a long tail cast. There’s a video with the knitting instructions here.
    This is probably best for the knitter both familiar and comfortable with the long tail cast on method.
  • Another option is one from Knitting with Laura. She ingeniously uses a crochet hook to cast on, and spaces the cast-on stitches with chain stitches between. Her knitting instructions are here.
    I’ve used this one, and it works beautifully for both entrelac and ripple stitch.
What’s your favorite method?
Garter ripple kitchen set

Garter ripple kitchen set

When you’re looking for a quick project to try out your loose casting on method, check out my Knit Garter Ripple Kitchen Set pattern here.
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