Knit 101: We Have Cast-on!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have cast-on! At long last, I’ve started working on my Killarney Tunic. I’m not buying notions or figuring out yarn substitution or making a gauge swatch —I’m actually knitting the sweater itself. It took a really, really long time for me to get here, and it feels good to be working on it.

Of course, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. I was hoping that once I’d achieved gauge things would be easy (well, easier) for me, but no dice. I had no trouble casting on the 79 beginning stitches, but when I looked at the next steps in the pattern, I realized I didn’t know what to do. The instructions say to “work in Sl St Rib for 5 inches.” I consulted the stitch guide to find out what Sl St Rib is and learned that the pattern is as follows:

Row 1 (WS) K3, *sl 1 pwise wyf, k3; rep from * to end.
Row 2 (RS) K1, *sl 1 pwise wyf, k3; rep from * to last 2 sts, sl 1 pwise wyf, k1.

What is “wyf,” though? And how do you slip 1 purlwise? I needed guidance, so once again I called on resident knitting expert Laura Hulslander to walk me through these stitches. Turns out “wyf” means “with yarn in front,” and you slip it purlwise by moving the yarn to the front, inserting your needle purlwise, and slipping the stitch off the needle. It’s actually a fairly easy stitch pattern for a beginner, but it was super helpful to have Laura walk me through it a few times.


Working on this gorgeous ribbing! Just a few more inches to go.

Once I had a feel for the Sl St Rib pattern, I decided I would work at least two rows every day so I could keep up my momentum on this project. I did pretty well for the first couple of days, working rows on my own, but then I got overconfident and decided I could work this pattern while watching TV. Alas, I could not. I somehow added a stitch toward the end of Row 2, so when I got to the last few stitches, I had 3 stitches on the needle instead of 2. I had no idea how I’d managed to add a stitch or how to fix the problem, but fortunately, I’m surrounded by knitting experts at work!

Laura showed me how to knit backwards so I could get back to the stitch where the problem originated. She then helped me fix the mistake and figure out where I was in the pattern so I could correctly complete the row. I made some more goofs and had to knit backwards a few more times, but I eventually got it straightened out. And I learned a valuable lesson: don’t try to knit in front of the TV when you’re knitting a pattern that requires concentration!

Knitting backwards to fix my mistake.

I now have about 2 inches of ribbing complete, so I have just 3 inches to go! Then I can move on to a big section of (mostly) stockinette stitch, which I can definitely do in front of the TV or while I’m traveling over the summer. Maybe by the time it’s cold outside again, I’ll have a finished sweater!

What projects have you made that have taken longer than you expected? Let me know in the comments!

—Rachel Koon

Cast-On With Rachel!


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