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casting on and off

I’ve been looking forward to teaching my first knitting classes in Scotland since our very first week here, when I went over to Edinburgh to meet Jess of Ginger Twist Studio (and lovely Clare who facilitated the meeting and who, interestingly, is moving to Australia later this year!) and she asked me to teach some classes at this sweetest of yarn shops. And I’m so happy that the day is finally getting close!

The first class of the day on April 19th, Knitting Tips and Tricks, sold out really quickly because, well, it’s obvious what the class is all about. It’s always an easy class to sell. I want my classes to be practical and for participants to leave knowing that they can go straight out and apply what we’ve covered, to feel like they’ve got something new in their kit that they can’t imagine being without. But the afternoon’s class, Cast-ons and Cast-offs… I’m always a little toey about running this class, not because of what it covers but because it’s not an easy class to sell- the content isn’t as immediately engaging as, say, colourwork or seamless knitting… but I actually think it’s way more life-changing and practical than most of my other classes! That’s because the edges of our knitting are so much more important than we may realise. They’re the bits that one usually sees first, the beginning and ending. If they don’t fit with the fabric in-between, because they pull in or are sloppy, the piece just doesn’t look right. It doesn’t have integrity… whereas a beautiful edge is magic.

Tubular cast-on on the Frankie Hat

A beautiful tubular cast-on on the Frankie Hat

Many people learn to cast on and off from their mum, auntie or grandpa and never learn another method; their way suits them just fine. And I love and respect that. But, at the same time, I think that the many methods we now have available to us all work particularly well in certain situations. So why limit ourselves to one method? For example, if you’re casting off a beautiful lace shawl and you stick to the trusty chain cast-off, you’ll probably find that the edge of your shawl won’t be able to stretch as far as you’d like to really open out the lace. There is a method for every situation and every method has its strengths- it’s just a matter of knowing how to work them and how to match method to project…

So, in this class, we’ll cover my default cast-on, the wonderful long-tail (or Continental) cast-on and a few variations on it (as well as how to calculate how much yarn you’ll need so you don’t run out!), my favourite version of the tubular cast-on (as seen above on the Frankie Hat), a provisional cast-on that allows you to come back and undo your edge and work in the opposite direction and other methods for getting your knitting started.

And we’ll look at a series of cast-offs that produce different finishes- lightweight, sturdy, stretchy and firm- including the sewn and i-cord cast-offs, the three-needle cast-off that allows you to cast off and seam two pieces together at the same time and working a knitted-on edging that avoids casting off entirely.

And, finally, we’ll look at pairing cast-on and cast-off so that the edges of a knitted fabric look similar- this is so crucial in something like a scarf but is very rarely considered!


Echo Flower with a sturdy Russian cast-off

Hansel with knitted-on edging

Hansel with knitted-on edging

Bailey Cardigan with i-cord cast-off

Bailey Cardigan with i-cord

There are two places left in this class on April 19th so, if you feel like you’d benefit from a little up-skilling in this area, do jump in and book. I’m always intrigued to see who books in for this class- for some reason, it’s always an interesting group!

classes at ginger twist

I’m in knitting heaven- Jess of Ginger Twist Studio has very kindly invited me to teach some knit classes in her lovely little space in Edinburgh! I’m so looking forward to meeting some Scottish knitters and exchanging some tricks- this is such a hub of traditional knitting and I’m keen to expand my knowledge too…

You can find all the details on Jess’s class list, as well as on my classes page. I’m especially excited about the class on cast-ons and cast-offs- this one might sound a bit dry but having the tools to achieve a particular edge totally expands your knitting capacity! Each time I’ve taught it, I can see the light going on- especially with that tubular cast on…

Perhaps I’ll see you there? !



the craft sessions v2.0

If you’re at all into craft and interact with any social media out there, you’ve probably seen and heard the recent buzz surrounding this years Craft Sessions retreat– I’m so happy that it’s happening again (how could it not after such a wonderful response last year!) and am feeling incredibly lucky to be asked back to teach again, alongside so many talented, lovely craftspeople… In anticipation of tomorrow’s opening of registration, I just wanted to remind you that, if you are thinking of coming (and really, there are classes to accommodate pretty much any skill level in such diverse crafts that you’ll definitely find classes that will work for you!), you need to get in soon. There are limited places available and last years success means that this years event is guaranteed to fill quickly…

There are so many classes that I would love to participate in- in fact, I’d love to sit in on them all… but especially Georgie’s grading for knitwear design, Belinda’s weaving, Leslie’s tote bag and Melissa’s embroidery from the natural world. At the end of last year’s weekend (especially after arriving back from Iran a few days beforehand!), I promised myself that I’d allow myself time to do a workshop but, when it came time to put forward ideas for my classes, I had too many ideas to allow space for that ; )

This time around, I’m teaching two half-day sessions, one on stranded colourwork for beginners (based around a new hat that I’m designing especially for the class) and the other on steeking (cutting- yes, cutting!- your knitting to make knitting garments in colourwork and other complex stitch patterns easier), which will work really well together or as stand-alone classes.

Stranded colourwork

Stranded colourwork

Steeked colourwork cardigan

Steeked colourwork cardigan

And then I’ll be out with the dyepots, running a whole-day class on dyeing with natural materials… we’ll be working from a single dyepot (made from one of the exotic, ancient dyestuffs) and learning how to use the mordanting and modifiying processes to extract 25 shades of colour from that one dyeport. Exciting!

25 colours from one dyepot

25 colours from one dyepot

I’m super excited about everyone’s classes and also by the extra space that Felicia has created over the weekend to absorb what’s been shared or go for a walk or spend time with mates… and I hope that those who take part in the weekend will gain some really practical skills and feel invigorated by being surrounded by such a great, creative community…  I hope you’re inspired by what you see over at CS headquarters!