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.
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!
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!