5 Ways to combat long tail cast on complications:
1. If your cast on seems to be too tight (especially important for neck down garments and hats) try casting on to a needle one or two sizes bigger than what you will actually be knitting with. This works for any cast on method, not just long tail.
2. If you are using particularly small needles (for sock cuffs) try holding two needles together while casting on, then slip the extra one out when complete.
3. A good rule of thumb is to allow somewhere between 3 times the width of the piece or 1″ for every stitch when determining tail length. The same is true to determine how much to leave when binding off.
4. If you are doing an afghan or other especially long cast on, try tying yarn from two skeins together, then work the long tail cast on with one strand from each ball. When you have completed the cast on, you can cut one of the strands and leave as a fringe end and use the other for your first working row. This does mean weaving in more ends if you are working on a garment BUT it does guarantee that you won’t run short on the 210th stitch when you need 225.
5. For a better understanding of just what goes on when doing the long tail cast on, try the two stranded version above using two different colors.
How many times have you knit a sweater that instructs you to knit the front “same as back”?
Does your front look like your back? How about your husband’s front and back?
The next time you are in the company of a trusted friend and have on a fitted turtleneck or T-shirt with side seams try this exercise. Choose the largest part of your body (usually bust for ladies, belly for men) and have your helper take three measurements.
First, the entire circumference at the roundest part of you.
Second, measure from the garment side seam—across the front of you— and over to the other side seam.
Third, measure the back from side seam to side seam. Just to make sure, add the second and third measurements — they should equal the first. If the front half of you is different from the back half, consider making the next sweater a blend of two sizes which will produce a garment shaped more like you! Use the pattern schematic (the little drawing of front, back, sleeves with measurements) to choose the size front and back closest to your actual measurement plus 2.” If your front measurement is 38,” choose the front size that is closest to 40.” Make sure to knit the front and back to the same length for underarm shaping, etc. Which length? Choose the shorter option if you’re short, the longer option if you are tall or compromise with a length between the two, whichever will flatter and please you the most. Follow the sleeve directions for the size appropriate for your “all around” dimension. You may need to make an additional set of decreases at the shoulders to have an equal number of stitches for finishing.
Sweaters knit the same both front and back look best on ginger bread men.
When a pattern says to increase 7 (or 8 or 9 or any number) evenly on next round.
How do I calculate where to place the increases?
Divide the number of stitches on the needles by the number of stitches to increase = number of stitch between each increase.
Example 1: Cast on 51 stitches work 6 rows of seed stitch. Increase 4 stitches evenly across.
- 51 divided by 4 equals 12.75 stitches between each increase.
Example 2: Cast on 112 stitches work 2″ of rib. Increase 16 stitches evenly across.
- 112 divided by 16 equals 7 stitches between each increase.
If you are working in the round, start counting with the first stitch after the round marker and increase in the stitch that corresponds to your calculated answer.
If you are working flat for front, back or sleeves, you need to do one extra step. Divide the number of stitches between increases by one half (one half of 12.75 = 6.37 for Example 1 or one half of 7 = 3.5 for Example 2). Start your first increase at this half point (this centers the increases across the work and prevents having an increase stitch fall at the end of the row).
- – - – - X – - – - – - – - – - – - X – - – - – - – - – - – - – X – - – - – - – - – - – - X – - – - – - (for you visual folks)
So, how do you increase every 12.75 stitches??? Work increases at intervals 13, 13, 13 and 12 (increases at 13, 26, 39 and 51) working in the round, or 6, 19, 32 and 45 if working flat.
The successful fit of a sweater can often be defined by whether the sweater drapes or droops. The best fit is accomplished when the shoulder shaping of the garment matches the shoulder shaping of the wearer. First you need to measure the shoulder slope. You need at least three hands and one helper for this project. First, place a ruler horizontally across the back at the base of the neck, then place a yard stick horizontally across the back from shoulder to shoulder. Measure the vertical distance between these two horizontal lines. The greater the distance, the more shaping is required at the shoulder and vice versa.
If you are fortunate enough to have a pattern with a diagram, it should be easy to determine what the pattern is allowing for shaping; if not, you will have to dig the info out of the pattern. Look for the length of sweater at the point beginning the shoulder bind offs (if any) and the finished length of the piece. The difference between these two measurements is the pattern allowance for shoulder shaping.
If you have very straight shoulders, you might want to just keep knitting to the full length of the piece and omit the shoulder bind offs. If you have very slanted shoulders, you might need to start binding off ½” to 1″ before the pattern directions. Then you need to put on your math hat. If the pattern calls for a 1″ slope by binding off 6 stitches at the beginning of the next two right side rows and you need a 2″ slope, you can start binding off 1″ sooner and bind off 3 stitches at the beginning of the next four right side rows.
My pattern calls for circular needles but doesn’t tell me what length. How do I figure out what to buy? The pattern calls for a 29″ needle and I have the same size in 24″, can I use what I have?
Circular needles come in a wide variety of lengths, 12″, 16″, 20″, 24″, 29″, 32″, 40″, 47″, and 60″
Generally, the weight of the yarn determines how many stitches will fit on the needle but a good indicator of the “best” size depends on the circumference of your project.
- Look for “finished size” dimension information on the pattern.
- Look at the schematic and find the flat width and double that number.
- Or, do the math: Divide the number of cast on stitches by the gauge, i.e. 204 stitches cast on at a gauge of 18 stitches to 4″ would be 18 divided by 4″ or 4 ½ stitches per inch, then 204 divided by 4 ½ stitches for a circumference of 45.33″.
Now that you know the circumference of the garment, you know the maximum length needle you can use. The needle length must be less than the circumference. You cannot make a sweater with a circumference of 40″ stretch to a 60″ needle circumference.
But, what is the minimum length I can squeeze the project on to? Think about circular needles as two needles with a connector. Each needle end is approximately 4 – 5″ long, so the connector is about 8 – 10″ shorter than the length specified on the packaging. A 29″ needle has about a 19″ connector. You can comfortable work 1.75 – 3 times as many inches of knitting per inch of connector. So a 29″ needle will comfortable hold between 1.75 X 19 = 33 up to 3 x 19 = 57.”
Next time you shop, check the back of an Addi Turbo Circular Needle, it has a chart suggesting appropriate needle length for everything from doll sweater to afghans.