A Cabled Cast-On Question

Lately, I've been doing the cabled cast-on (I think some people call this "knitting on"?) as my default cast-on. I like how it looks and that I don't have to measure out the right amount of yarn for the twisted loop cast-on.

But doing some reading in two different books, I've found what I think are contradictory statements about the elasticity of the cabled cast-on (curiously, each reference is on the same page of the two different books).

Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts in "Knitting in the Old Way" (p. 18) says : "A cable cast-on forms a very firm, non-elastic edge."

Jacqueline Fee in "The Sweater Workshop" (p. 18) says : "The Cable Cast-On, as its name implies, resembles a smooth cable or rope of yarn ... More important, it is strong and elastic."

So, who do you think is right? I guess from my experience I thought it was more elastic than the twisted loop cast-on. What's your experience been?

MMario's picture

The knitted cast on is sometimes CALLED a cable cast on. I do not find the knit cast on to be very elastic. This is the one where you literally knit a stitch, replace it on the same needle.

For a cable cast on; you insert the needle BETWEEN two stitches to create your knit stitch and place the new stitch back on the same c able. I almost never use anything else unless I go to a provisional cast on. I find it quite flexible and stretchy.
But in my opinion (ymmv) personal gauge has a lot to do with how strong/flexible/elastic a cast on is. I know a woman who does a backwards e cast on and it is firm as rock. When I do one it is loose, floppy and has excess hanging out all over.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Stan Stansbury's picture

As MMario suggests, the two women may have been talking about different things. In my experience, knitting on is about as firm as the long-tail. The cable cast on is not that inflexible, but is not as stretchy as the Twisted German.

ksmarguy's picture

check out this link. http://techknitter.blogspot.com/2010/04/revised-unified-index-for.html scroll down a bit and she has some great stuff on cast -ons, explaining the structure, the whys, etc. she has alot of great stuff on her blog so look around a bit. I agree with MMario, too. I learned cable as between the stitches, knitted as knitting the stitch and placing it on the needle. I find the cable slightly more stretchy, but with so many cast ons you may just want to try several and pick your favorite. I myself use long-tail the majority of the time, but sometimes want something different. If it works for you and your project and you are happy with the finished result, it works!

2manyhobbies's picture

Thanks for the link to the TECHknitter blog! Wow, lots of good stuff there.

2manyhobbies's picture

I could be wrong, but looking at the instructions and drawings in both books, I think they're describing the same thing (both look like what I do for a cable cast-on). I've confused things with my comment about "knitting on" - thanks to both of your for clarifying the two. But, I think both books are describing cable cast-on as "knitting on" the first stitch then going between the prev two stitches for the rest. If someone else has both books, maybe they can verify that's right.

Now I'm off to google "twisted german cast-on" :)

Tallguy's picture

It's all Semantics.

Some books will tell you to use a larger needle, or even two needles held together, to get a looser cast-on. All you get is large stitches, and a sloppy edge.

To get a looser cast-on, you need more space BETWEEN each stitch. You can do this by being sure to stretch out each stitch on the needle as you cast them on, but it 's hard to be consistent, or to remember to do that.

A more accurate alternative is to use your regular needle to hold the new stitches, but use a larger needle as the one that is going between stitches (acts as a spacer between the last two stitches) and that will give you that extra room and stretch you need. The stitch will depend on the size of the needle in the left hand; the needle on the right is only for spacing and has nothing to do with the size of the stitches formed, even though it does pull the stitch through that space. Try this with several sizes of needles to see if it's an effect you like.

AKQGuy's picture

I have found that they're are two schools of "Cable Cast-On" One is where you pick up just the front leg of the last stitch on the left hand needle with your right hand needle, and knit through it, pulling the stitch through and dropping it back on the end of your left needle. The other is where you do the above only for the "second" stitch then go between the last two stitches on the left hand needle with the right hand needle and pull theyarn through and drop it on the left hand needle thereby making anew stitch. I find the second type is more elastic than the first, but in all of my knitting I've always found the cable cast on elastic for enough projects. If I want more elasticity I will use the "Old Norwegian" cast-on.
A note regarding sloppy edges. I teach my students the second form of the cab;ed cast on because before they pull their yarn taught (Taught, in a very loose sense of the word? NEVER tight!) with each new stitch dropped ont he end of their left handed needle, they are to place their right hand needle between the last two stitches, then pull taught, loop their yarn over their right hand needle and then pull through... Repeat. Clear as mud?

2manyhobbies's picture

Thank you for sharing your experience. Is the "Old Norwegian" cast-on the same as the German Twisted cast-on?

I think, from everyone's feedback, that a true cable cast on (as opposed to knitting on) is probably flexible enough (when done loosely) that I can safely go on using that in most cases... I just don't enjoy doing the long-tail cast ons as much (even though I learned that first).

MMario's picture

*grin* I have never been able to do the long tail cast on. Last weekend my jaw dropped as I watched someone cast on (I think it was long tail - it could have been one of the more esoteric ones that use a tail) WHILE WATCHING A MOVIE ! ! ! He wasn't (visibly) even watching his hands!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I agree with Q on this one...I use my needle as a spacer when tightening up the stitch before drawing through a new one. Yes, the Old Norwegian is the same as Twisted German cast on. A good way to estimate how much yarn you need for the Old norwegian style is to wrap your yarn around your needle however many times equals the number of stitches you need. Grab it at the point closer to your skein to make your slip knot and then start casting on. I usually add a bit extra just to be on the safe side. Good luck. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

TheKnittingMill's picture

Have you seen the Estonian cast on? Ay CHIHUAHUA!