The Tubular Cast-On & the Tara Jacket

The Tara Jacket by Ashley Rao,
from Knitscene Winter 2013

The Tara Jacket from the winter 2013 Knitscene is popping up on all of the social media sites, and it so deserves it! This design by Ashley Roa is so cute and, most importantly, wearable. I think I see a knit-along in our future, KDers . . .

Tara is a knitted version of the popular moto-style jacket. I was at Nordstrom the other day and I saw lots and lots of moto jackets, but none as cute as Tara!

One of the building blocks of the Tara Jacket is the tubular cast-on, which is the perfect beginning for this ribbed jacket. In Knitscene, Ashley Rao offers three methods for working this cast-on. She goes deep into the technique, plus, she tells you the pros and cons of each version. Here's Method 1 to get you started.

Creating a Seamless Edge

Using a tubular cast-on creates a stretchy, softly rounded edge that transitions perfectly to k1, p1 rib at the edges of knitting projects. Its elasticity and alternating knit/purl structure make it virtually indistinguishable from the ribbing pattern. Although tubular cast-on may seem like an advanced technique, it builds on many basic cast-on and increase techniques you probably already know.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3

Method 1

Use for: Even or odd number of stitches.
Advantages: Uses basic cast-on and St st to create a tubular edge.
Disadvantages: Transition row can be awkward to work, waste yarn cast-on must be removed, difficult to adapt to circular knitting This method begins with a backward-loop cast-on in waste yarn, which is picked out and removed once the tubular edge is established. Using a slippery waste yarn (such as mercerized cotton) in a contrasting color ensures that these stitches will be easy to identify and easy to remove.

Using waste yarn and the backward-loop method, CO half the final number of sts needed. Cut waste yarn, turn work, join main yarn, and work as follows:

Row 1 (RS): Knit.

Row 2 (WS): Purl.

Row 3: Knit.

Row 4: With tip of right-hand (RH) needle, pick up main color loop at edge of first main color row 3 rows below [Figure 1]. Place this loop on left hand (LH) needle, k1. *P1, bring yarn to back of work, use tip of RH needle to pick up main yarn purl loop 3 rows below (held between 2 purl loops in waste yarn) [Figure 2]. Place this loop on LH needle, k1; rep from * to last st, p1-full number of required sts are now on the needles (double the original cast-on).

Row 5: *K1, p1; rep from * to end of row. At this point, the work is fully reversible-either side can be used as the RS. Work a few more rows in k1, p1 rib, then unpick and remove waste yarn cast-on edge [Figure 3].

This method is easily adapted to an odd number of stitches. Cast on half the final number of stitches plus 1, then work as described above, but eliminate the first picked-up and knit stitch in the transition row, and work the stitches as p1, *k1, p1*.

—Ashley Rao, from Knitscene Winter 2013

The tubular cast-on is one of those techniques that, once you master it, you'll use it all the time. Anything that starts with ribbing is a candidate for the tubular cast-on: hats, gloves, mittens, sweaters, and so on. This cast-on technique is versatile and attractive, too.

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P.S. What do you say about a Tara Jacket knit-along? Leave a comment and let me know if you're interested!

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