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!