A loose Cast-On for lace

Do you like knitting lace? I love it! And I want to share a cast-on tip with you. This is a modified long-tail cast-on that I use for lace and it’s super easy to do. And this is a useful tip for lace knitting, especially for cowls because they usually imply casting on many stitches. But of course, it’s useful for scarves and stoles too.

The reason why I use a slightly different way to cast on with lace is because the cast-on has to be really stretchy. Lace needs blocking to reveal its true beauty and I usually wet-block all my (lace) projects. With lace stitch patterns, the yarn overs need to open and I find that wet-blocking really helps the stitches relax and fall into place.

Let’s take two swatches as example. Both are knit with the same yarn, the same number of stitches and the same needles (and by the same knitter of course). One swatch is entirely in stockinette stitch and the other one has a lace pattern. The width of the stockinette swatch will in most cases be smaller than that of the lace swatch. A regular long-tail cast-on will more or less match the stitch gauge of stockinette (unless you cast-on really tight). However, this will not be the case for lace. The lace swatch will need a cast-on that can stretch a lot more than a regular long-tail cast-on. Even more so if your selected yarn is not stretchy by itself (think: plied cotton, alpaca, silk, etc.). That’s it for the background, let’s move on to the actual cast-on.

Loose long-tail Cast-On for lace

The way the loose cast-on is done is identical to the long-tail cast-on with one single difference: you’ll have to maintain some space between the stitches. You wrap the yarn exactly as you would do for a regular long-tail cast-on but then, you put your index finger right in front of the newly formed stitch. Check out the video to visualize what I mean. Your finger will create a gap between the stitches, preventing them from being all bunched up against each other. Then you cast on the next stitch and repeat the procedure until you have all the stitches you need. It’s necessary to go slow when doing this. Each time I speed-up the procedure, my cast-on ends up more tight or inconsistent. However, this is a really simple trick and the beauty of it is that it’s based on the versatile long-tail cast-on.

Shown above: The Intermezzo cowl.

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