Now that you’ve had a chance to work on your swatches and figure out your gauge, it’s time to finally start knitting and cast on! This is always the most stressful part for me. The beginning of a project always requires the biggest push just to get started, and I constantly worry I haven’t cast on enough so I obsessively count all my stitches just to be triple sure I’m not messing anything up.
For a little added stress, the Snoqualmie pattern calls for a tubular cast on. I read over the instructions and was tempted to just write it off and do a more traditional cast on because it was new and a little scary. I then had to give myself my typical “Stop being a lazy jerk and just learn how to do it” pep talk and googled a few tutorials. Once again, the lazy jerk in me has terrible instincts, because this technique is awesome. Or if you prefer, tubular (in the 90s surfer slang sense of the word). Basically, with a tubular cast-on you are making a soft, stretchy seam that flexes with the ribbing, rather than the more rigid long tail cast on. It’s also really darn pretty; it has a soft round edge that makes your ribbing look really professional and beautifully made. Tubular!
If you need a little help in addition the written instructions, there is an excellent tutorial here. I also recommend following the pattern direction about using different waste yarn for the initial cast-on. It’s a tricky little bit of knitting at the beginning and it’s easier to get your stitches going when you have something smooth to slide your needle into. I used a little bit of cotton Wool & The Gang yarn from my stash.
Once I got it going, the tubular cast-on felt familiar to me after knitting socks using Judy’s Magic Loop method; it felt just as magical. You only cast on half the stitches you need and then work increases to get the total number. Once you have your final amount of stitches, you alternate knit stitches with slipped yarn to create the tubular shape (which reminded me of the technique I just learned to knit sock heels). After 6 rows, you switch over to regular ribbing. Before doing that you need to rearrange your stitches from 1×1 to a 2×2 formation. I highly suggest following the instructions as written rather than just jumping right in – I had to rip back because I had arranged them in the wrong order. Once the stitches have been re-arranged you’re good to just knit your normal rib before you have to switch needle sizes for your cabling (this is where the interchangeable needles rock hard; you only need to change the needle points rather than trying to move everything over to a different circular needle cable. I almost cried the first time I did it).
I waited till my ribbing was done before taking out the waste yarn. Using a pair of sharp scissors, I carefully snipped in between each stitch and gently removed all the short strands.
When you start working on your cables you may want to use safety pins or stitch markers to differentiate your cable columns. I found I didn’t really need them once the pattern was established but it may help you at the beginning.
After your ribbing is done it’s really just the serious business of working your cables (see the video I made here if you need a little help). I’ll check in next week when it’s time to start decreasing and shaping the back.
Any ribbing or casting on advice?