Casting on!

Note from Sandi: Welcome to my new little corner of Knitting Daily! Each week, I'll be sharing stories of my knitting adventures, as well as some tips and tricks I've learned along the way. Thanks for coming by–now, let's get started!


I love beginning a new project.
First, there's that prickle of delight in your knitter's fingers when you realize that the world Needs Another Knitted Thing, and that you are just the person to knit that Thing. You know you must prepare carefully: You must choose just the right pattern, pick exactly the right color, and oh, yes……you must go yarn shopping.

Of course, we all have stashes. It is good and virtuous to knit from one's stash. I encourage every knitter to go stash diving when contemplating a new knitting project. Go ye, therefore, and search your stash for a worthy yarn for this wondrous new knitting project. (But… I'm headed to the yarn shop tomorrow–wanna come along? Hee.)

I have a new baby niece, Delaney. She lives in Alabama where woolly things are not as fully appreciated as they are up here in Canada. (Woolly things are appreciated In Principle in the South, for their craftsmanship and beauty, but the appreciation is paid from a respectful distance.) Nonetheless: She is the niece of a knitter, and thus, she must have something knitted to welcome her into the family. After much thought, I decided on a lace blanket–but a simple blanket, something that might actually get finished before she needs to decorate her college dorm room.

I chose Star Light, Star Bright, which originally appeared in the Winter 1999 issue of Interweave Knits, but is now a free pattern here on Knitting Daily. I love the star motifs and I've secretly wanted to knit this for a long time, so I am really tickled that Baby Delaney is giving me a grand excuse to do so.

I then consulted the stash, only to find that I had nothing light enough (nor washable enough!) for an Alabama baby's blankie. So, guilt-free, I dropped by my local yarn shop and ordered nine balls of Dale Baby Ull in white. (The pattern calls for eight balls of this yarn; I always buy an extra ball for swatching or Just In Case Emergencies.)

Two days later at my local knit night, I had the yarn, I had the needles, I had the pattern, and I was desperate to cast-on.

Let me assure you that casting on in a room full of folks knitting pretty yarn and eating yummy treats and telling funny tales is a Big Mistake. "It's only 181 stitches," I told myself. (Feeling that you must tell yourself anything with the word "only" in it is the First Bad Sign.) I cast on over and over again, placing markers every ten stitches, counting, re-counting…and then, confident that I had the right number, I started the garter stitch border…only to discover around Row 2 that I was missing 3 stitches.

I looked up, a scream of frustration forming in my throat, to find a friend watching me carefully. Before I could even squeak, she told me, "Sandi, if you rip that out one more time I shall have to stab you with my dpns." (Pause for thought: She knits with metal dpns. That would mean blood on my nice white blankie yarn. Hm.) "But I'm off by 3 stitches!" I wail. "So?" she replied. "Increase 3 stitches evenly across the row and get on with it! It's a baby blanket! It will have an edging! It will have baby barf on it someday! NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW."

She was right, of course. I increased one stitch at each end and one in the middle, and just kept on going. It's only the second row, so once I sew on the edging, no one will be able to tell.

I'm now several inches in, past the first row of stars, and I love this blankie.

Next week: I'll have a little cast-on trick for you. When someone showed it to me, it rocked my stars; here's hoping it rocks yours too.

Knit for joy!
— Sandi

P.S. Let me know what you think! You can leave a comment below or even email me at sandi@knittingdaily.com.

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