Socks with Sarah: Cast-Ons & Last Minute Tips

With Socks with Sarah officially kicking off tomorrow, today I wanted to post up just a few housekeeping reminders as well as some last minute tips & words about cast-ons.

First, housekeeping because in my house we get our work done first and then we play.

I want to clear up any confusion about how we’re using the Ravelry group. Now, I started the umbrella group Friends of Knitting Sarah. This group is for anyone who wants to chat, share WIPs & FOs, and ask questions. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join.

Within the Friends of Knitting Sarah group there are discussion threads — think of them as subgroups (kind of, sort of). There are two main ones for the Socks with Sarah KAL. Although do keep in mind you are of course invited to use any and all discussion threads should you desire it.

Socks with SarahThis thread is where you sign up.  It is also the place for general chatting, asking questions, and posting WIP photos of your Socks with Sarah KAL projects.

Socks with Sarah FO Catalog (photos & links only)This is just for finished Socks with Sarah projects. If you can, when posting please list the yarn & pattern you used — with links if you are able. Also feel free to link to any blog posts or project pages if you have more extensive reviews. We want to keep the text to a minimum to make it easier to look through.  Please post praise and questions on the general Socks with Sarah thread. Also know that if text shows up, I’ll be redirecting you to the other thread and eventually deleting that text. If this happens, please, please please no need to worry or feel bad, I promise I’m not being rude. Seriously, I’m not generally one to get upset about such things. I’m hosting this shindig though, so it’s my job to keep things organized so it’s good for everyone. So I’ll just point you in the right direction and all will be just fine.

Also, when using social media & Ravelry, please remember to tag your photos & projects using the hashtag #sockswithsarah. Then we can all see find your projects easily for the ooohing and the ahhhhing.

OK. That being said, on to fun things!

I am going to write today about last minute tips & casting-on because I know our group is spread throughout the globe & I don’t anyone in Australia or Europe who is waiting to begin on time to miss out on my ‘what to do before you cast-on’ tips because I posted them at 6am CDT. So I’ve made a little list of things to do before you cast-on. As always, keep in mind that this list is very much applicable to most knitting projects.

1. Check your gauge!  As always, I am here to remind you that the only way to insure your socks will fit is if your gauge is correct. Ideally a gauge swatch will be knit, washed, and dried. This isn’t always an ideal world though, so at the very least knit a few inches square and take a good measurement to be sure you are hitting gauge.

2. Weigh your yarn.  This is something I usually forget to do, but always kick myself for forgetting. Weighing your yarn on a kitchen scale (and noting the weight in a place you won’t lose it) allows you to know exactly how much yarn & yardage you have. When knitting socks one at a time as most do, if you aren’t dividing your yarn into two equal balls before you begin you will want to know where the midway point is. Whether you knit top-down or t0e-up, knowing your half-way point will allow you to make adjustments before you are at the very end so that your socks match and you don’t spend the last day of knitting wondering if you’ll run out. You’ll know one way or the other — no surprises.

3. Read over your pattern. I always tell knitters to read a pattern through entirely before beginning. It doesn’t have to all make perfect sense right away, but you do want an idea of where you’re going. For those knitting the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Basic Sock, you can decide if you want to work your sock with a 2×2 rib, a 1×1 rib, or just a ribbed cuff and then stockinette. If you are a first time sock knitter or you are not always consistent with your gauge, do consider working in a rib throughout the cuff and top of foot (I’ll explain  how to do that when the time comes). Ribbing is a bit more forgiving as far as inaccurate gauge goes because the fabric has more ability to stretch. I know it’s more work, but it’s worth it. I mix it up between ribbed and stockinette for my basic socks.

4. Prepare your pattern.  If you are using a multi-size pattern, clearly mark the size you are making. Use pencil or run a photocopy for yourself (not for others, please) and highlight the correct instructions throughout the pattern. Nothing is worse than this kind of mistake, so take the time to prevent it!

5. Choose a cast-on. For those doing the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Basic Sock, the instructions give you the option of using a long-tail cast-on or a cable cast-on. If you are using one of these, I strongly recommend using one needle size up from the needle you will knit on to cast-on stitches. A tight cast-on on a top-down sock can be really uncomfortable and going a needle size up can really help prevent that problem. When in doubt, cast-on just a bit looser than you think you should.

Alternately, I have recently been introduced to the Old Norwegian, or German Twisted cast-on.  I read about it in Clara Parkes’ The Yarn Whisperer and when mentioned it on my blog a few knitters chimed in with praise for it, so I knew I had to give it a whirl. I have quickly become a huge fan of this cast-on. It is very similar to long-tail cast-on, but it is a little stretchier. It’s perfect for sock cuffs!

Today, I’ve created some short video tutorials for all three of these cast-on possibilities.

Please bear with me while I fine-tune my video skills — these are my very first video tutorials.

If you want a different perspective, I highly recommend — they do great video tutorials and would be a great second reference to these should you desire it!

Long-tail Cast-on

Cable Cast-On for English Style Knitters

Cable Cast-On for Continental Style Knitters

Old Norwegian Cast-On

Over the coming weeks and months, I will be working on getting these tutorials linked up in the ‘tutorials’ area of my blog, but for now I hope they help you get going on your first project for the Socks with Sarah KAL.

Only a few hours left before the official start! Who’s ready to cast-on?!