How To Cast Off Knitting Loosely

I’m nearing the end of a knitting project, which involves a certain amount of casting off. I thought I’d take a quick snap, as casting off loosely can be a real tripping up point for new knitters. Why?

  • You may not even realise you need to cast off loosely. Indeed, anxiety to do a good job will send you casting off nice and tightly.
  • Even if you do know you need to cast off loosely, nerves and tension could be working their way down the knitting needles and into your work, making everything really tight. Don’t believe in this phenomenon? Some time I’ll show you the squares I crocheted one afternoon when I was really angry about something – they’re visibly smaller than their friends!

Why do you need to cast off loosely? If you don’t, your edge will curl inwards. This can be unpleasing to the eye, or even plain disastrous. The first jumper I ever made had a funnel neck. In my ignorance, I cast that neckline off nice and tight, thinking that was the right thing to do. I sewed the jumper up and pulled it excitedly over my head. Tried to pull it over my head. I could barely get it past my ears, thanks to all that tight casting off. Remember, knitting is meant to have give.

So learn from my mistakes.

The good news is, there’s a really easy way of making yourself cast off loosely. Change needles. The needle you’re casting off onto can be bigger than the set of needles you’ve been working with. The larger circumference of this needle will force the casting off to be loose, whether or not you’re full of tension.

See the photo above? My knitting has taken place on a 2 1/4 mm needle (left), but I’m casting off onto a 2 3/4 mm needle (right). Job done!

This is such a simple technique, but one new knitters may not be aware of. I hope it helps!

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13 Responses to How To Cast Off Knitting Loosely

  1. Emma says:

    That is GENIUS! Thankyou so so much. I am practically a beginner but after attending Teen Granny’s workshop I feel rather more confident. It’s clever trciks like this that’ll hopefully get me knitting members of the Royal family in no time.

  2. sewbusylizzy says:

    Great tip! I was once so excited to finish a jumper I cast off and then found I could not pull it over my head. And my tension is so tight that it was a full size smaller than the jumper my mum had knitted for me two years earlier. Doh!

  3. Gaylene says:

    Thanks for this….I tried it myself a little while ago, but thought I was ‘cheating’ and that ‘real’ knitters were just really good at casting off. You have given my knitting confidence a real boost!

  4. a very simple and elegant solution and they’re often the best (yeah, my Mum taught me to do that; but most of the knitting books I use also give it as a tip so I have constant reinforcement). Was that apparently careless mention of crochet squares a prelude to Another Update??

  5. Sherry says:

    I’ve cast off too tightly on a collar before, and it is so annoying because you don’t want to unravel it and have a join in the final row! I have since discovered this handy tip thank goodness!

  6. katlane12 says:

    Brilliant tip! I am notorious for casting off too tight. I have to pay a lot of attention to make myself cast off loosely. This tip is going to save me a lot of time!

  7. Ooo exciting looks like there will be a knitting reveal soon! Looks like we both had a knitty weekend indeed. My first ever jumper I cast off the neckline too tight, lucky not too garotte myself putting it on ;-). Would have re-cast off but it was in fluffy 2 ply which is a b&tch to unravel.

  8. Oh, how smart! I will remember that. I always cast off much too tightly.

  9. Marie says:

    Thanks fr such a top tip Karen! I’m generally a tight knitter, so you can imagine what my casting off is like ;o) I’ll be using this trick on my current project for sure. Off to check out Emma’s blog now!

  10. Alessa says:

    Heh, I thought I could do the lose cast-off with my regular needles the first few times, but I’m really bad at remembering! So now I use bigger needles. I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling with that! :)

  11. Law says:

    Great tip.

    I’ve just started knitting so am going back through all my fave sewing/knitting blogs to look at the knitting posts! this is a very handy hint, thanks.

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