Wresting with Stockinette Gremlins & A Cast-On Tip

Note from Sandi: Welcome to my new little corner of Knitting Daily! Every Thursday, 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!

I am now happily knitting away on the second set of stars on the Star Light, Star Bright blankie
–however, I have to admit that the knitting right before this new set of stars was not so happy. The knitting-before-the-stars was downright Cranky Knitting. This is not the blankie's fault; it is simply the fact that mixed in with the pretty sections of stars are long sections of my Knitting Nemesis: Stockinette Stitch. (The only thing that could be worse is my Knitting Doom: Garter Stitch.) Each section of my Nemesis on this project means nearly 4,000 stockinette stitches to be endured before the next star appears.

I don't understand it. I'm a knitter, down to the marrow of my bones. When I see anything stringy or vaguely knittable, I'm swatching it in my head. When I see sweaters on TV, I lose track of all dialog and plot because I am yelling at the screen: "MOVE OUT OF THE WAY SO I CAN SEE THOSE CABLES ON HER SLEEVE!" Stockinette stitch is the foundation of our beloved craft. Garter stitch is the mortar that holds everything together. Some of the most ingenious designs in knitting history are done in all-garter stitch (EZ's Baby Surprise Jacket is the most famous of these). Stockinette stitch not only brings drape and beauty to our lives; it also is the canvas upon which my beloved lace and cables are painted.

To despise wide swaths of stockinette stitch is illogical. To feel tortured by acres of garter stitch is un-knitterly.

And yet, I humbly admit: I seriously thought of handing over the blankie to someone else at the beginning of the 22 rows of stockinette (with the strict understanding that the blanket come back to me the minute a yarnover or k2tog was called for).

In the end, it was a four-hour movie marathon that kept me going, grimly working along until that first yarnover came into sight for the next band of stars. (At that point, there were Huzzahs and deep sighs of happy relief…we shall not speak of what happens when the next band of stockinette rears its impish little head.)

(By the way, the free pattern for the Star Light, Star Bright Baby Blankie is here.)

A Great Sanity Saver: Long-Tail Cast-On Tip

I promised you a cast-on tip that would rock your stars, so here it is. This tip was taught to me by some brilliant folks at my local guild.

It seems no matter how many little tricks and spells knitters use to measure the tail for the long-tail cast-on, sooner or later, that tail is either too short or waaaay too long–and you end up having to rip out the 873 stitches you just cast on for some lovely shawl or pullover or, er, baby blanket (you're a better person than I if the ONLY thing you end up ripping out is yarn and not a hank or two of your own hair).

So here's a nifty, never-fail tip: Every yarn ball has two ends, right? Pull out the two ends and, leaving 8" tails, tie the two ends together in a knot. Place the knot over your needle, and lookie what you have–two long pieces of yarn connected to the same ball of yarn to do the long-tail cast-on with! Wow! Go for it–cast on a zillion stitches–but don't count that knot-over-the-needles as the first stitch. When you are done casting-on, count, double-count, and triple count your stitches, then cut one end at the working end of the needle (leaving enough to weave in later), use the other end to knit with, and voila. Knit your heart out.

After you've worked a few rows, undo that first knot, weave in the ends, and you're done with that silly knot thing.

Brilliant, ay? No more long-tail cast-on agony ever again. (Thank you, Toronto guild folks!)

Next week: I have to knit a quick cute something for an important trip! (Oh c'mon now…you didn't think I could knit only one project at a time, now did you?)

Knit for joy!
— Sandi

P.S. Let me know what you think! You can leave a comment below or even email me at [email protected]

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