Cast-on knitting too tight or too loose? Try these expert tips

We’ll bet there are many of you who are “crossover crafters,” immersed in not only quilting, but other fiber arts as well. How do we know? Well, we feel like the people in our office are a microcosm of quilters everywhere, and none of us have only one passion when it comes to creativity!

Cast On, Bind OffRight now some of the staffers in the Martingale office are nuts about trying knitting for the first time. Others have been knitting for years. Both groups benefit from a best-selling book about how to cast on and bind off in knitting: appropriately, its title is Cast On, Bind Off!

No matter whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, every knitter starts with step one: casting on. If you’re new to knitting, you might find that your cast-on stitches are too tight or too loose. Today we’re sharing some helpful tips from best-selling author Cap Sease that are crucial to getting your next knitting project off to a great start—from the very first stitch!

Cap SeaseTips for Casting On

Excerpted from Cast On, Bind Off by Cap Sease

Everyone knits differently. Although patterns call for a needle of a certain size, you may find that you cast on more tightly or loosely than a project specifies.

If your cast-on stitches are too tight, many people recommend casting on with needles one or two sizes larger than the needles called for in the pattern. Doing this does loosen the stitches, but it can also cause the first row of stitches to be elongated and look different from the rest of your knitting. It can be more effective to space the stitches farther apart on the needle as you cast on. This will give you a little extra yarn, allowing the stitches to become slightly bigger when knitting the first row.

Cast-on examples
Three of more than 120 cast-on examples from
Cast On, Bind Off

If your cast-on stitches are too loose, you can try using needles a size or two smaller. But make sure you don’t overcompensate and make your stitches too tight. You can also try to space the stitches closer together on the needle as you cast on.

SlipknotMost cast ons start with a slipknot (right). Although the knots generally end up in the seam of your garment where they don’t show, many people simply do not like slipknots in their knitting. If you’re in this group, choose a method such as a loop, knit, or cable cast on where the knot is at the beginning of the row of stitches.

Twist start cast onAfter casting on, you can undo the knot and easily remove it from the needle. However, there are many methods for which this won’t work, including the long-tail cast ons. For these, you can use the twist start technique (left), which you’ll find in Cast On, Bind Off.

Get more practical tips, along with 211 cast-on and bind-off techniques, in Cast On, Bind Off—pick up your copy wherever books are sold or at our website, The book’s available in softcover or in hardcover with a concealed-spiral binding, so you can pick your favorite format!

What kind of creative pursuits do you have other than quilting?

  • Sewing bags, clothes, or home-decor items
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Embroidery
  • Have a seat . . . listing them all is going to take a while!

Tell us in the comments!

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