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Anita Derouen Knitting

To work the pur! version, grab the underneath strand from around the forefinger and pull it through the thumb loop as shown.

An alternative purl version can be tricky to master, but is worth trying.

by Meg Swansen

As with the Turkish Cast On installment, I cannot vouch for "Latvian" being the proper title for this technique, but here is how I learned it: Joyce Williams was at work on her book Latvian Dreams and was shown a pair of beautiful hand-knitted Latvian mittens with a mysterious lower edge. She was told that the technique was unfamiliar even to the Latvian knitting community in Minneapolis. Rising to the challenge, Joyce, from memory alone, figured it out herself. Not one to stop in the middle of a project, Joyce also discovered a method for a matching cast off—so both of these techniques are presented here with her kind permission.

Set up your hands as for Long Tail Cast On [page 76] and make a twisted loop for stitch

  1. Reset your left hand and put your thumb into the strand the "wrong" way—i.e., lower wool coming from needle goes around your thumb clockwise [Figure 1]—and knit into the BACK of that strand.
  2. Work a regular Long Tail Cast On [Figure 2].

Alternate A and B; end with A.

Flipping the thumb-wrap back and forth is an excellent mental exercise as, initially, your thumb balks at the unfamiliar direction. Persevere, however, and you will eventually be able to retrain your thumb for every other stitch. (Truthfully, I still have to concentrate on each stitch, but, 1 rationalize, it keeps my knitting brain on its toes.)

As in most of knitting, you also have another choice, and Amy Detjcn has come up with this alternative:

Alternative A) Let your thumb go into the strand the way it wants to (with the wool going around it counterclockwise); send the needle straight down between the two wools and hook the far thumb strand onto the back of the needle [Figure 3], then knit the finger wool through.

Alternative B) As above. Alternate A and B.

Isn't this a beautiful cast on.7 Little couplets of stitches have been wrapped snugly around their base. Actually, the mittens Joyce studied used a double strand of wool over the thumb and a single strand over the forefinger (as shown here); then the handsome horizontal wrap is more pronounced and stronger.

Joyces matching Latvian Cast Off is a very clastic sewn technique and is worked while the stitches are still on the needle. If you used a double thumb wool to cast on, then use a double thread to cast off: With a blunt sewing-up needle, bring the wool through the first stitch from back to front.

  1. Two stitches to the left (the third stitch in line): Go through the stitch (under the needle) from front to back and pull the wool through (Figure 4|.
  2. One stitch to the right, come through the stitch (under the needle) and UNDER the previous wool loop [Figure 5].
  3. Two stitches to the left, repeat A.
  4. One stitch to the right, come through the stitch and OVER the previous wool loop [Figure 6].
Woolen Stitches

Cast on

Set up thumb into loop opposite to the one used for the regular long-tail cast on (yarn wraps round the thumb counterclockwise), and hook finger-wool through far strand.

This is a regular long-tail cast on with the yarn doubled over the thumb.

Shown here is the alternative method for working step A.

Repeat from A through D.

During this series I have had several calls from knitters wanting to know if there is a matching cast off for some of the cast ons 1 have described. Use Joyce as an example, and study the cast-on stitch movement closely, then experiment to see if you can determine how to reproduce it at the other end. Elizabeth Zimmermann duplicated Long Tail Cast On with her casting on and off. Tubular Cast Off matches Tubular Cast On perfectly. There is a Picot Cast Off to match Channel Island Cast On, and now Joyce has nailed Latvian Cast On and Off. See what you yourself can come up with.

Knit on, Meg

Cast off

To work the cast off, insert the sewing needle through the stitch that is two stitches to the left.

Or, come back through the stitch, one stitch to the right and OVER the previous loop.

Come back through the stitch, one stitch to the right and UNDER the previous loop.

This wonderful method was first taught to me by the talented designer Betts Lampers, who referred to it as Elastic Long Tail Cast On. Several years later I found it in iVlontse Stanley's Knitters Handbook, where it is called Twisted German Cast On. For the sake of political correctness, I have renamed it German Twisted Cast On.

It is, indeed, a more elastic version of Long Tail Cast On [pages 76-77], which makes it a good candidate tor the beginning of a wide rib or even a lace project. Equally important, with a purl bump both fore and aft, it is ideal for corrugated ribbing because it helps prevent the little curl many knitters get along the lower edge when they use regular Long Tail Cast On.

This variation has a few extra twists and turns: Set up your hands as for Long Tail: the wool is draped over the thumb and forefinger of your left hand, and the two tails are held by the other three fingers. With the needle in your right hand, dive down between the strand and your palm, turn the needle toward you and up to the ceiling. That twisted loop is stitch #1, and a knot has been eliminated [Figure 1].

As you pull the needle down, a loop will form, emanating from your thumb [Figure 2]. Move the needle under both of those thumb strands, come over the top of the far strand and down into the loop. Come out of the loop in front of the near strand and reach over to grab the near forefinger wool. Now comes the only tricky part: In order to take the forefinger wool down into the thumb loop, you have to open it up by bending your thumb away from you. See the loop appear? Now you can draw the finger wool down through the loop, release both thumb and forefinger and reset your hand for the next stitch.

Cast on 20 stitches, then study what you have made. See the purls on either side? Now cast on 20 Long Tail stitches and compare the differences in appearance and stretch. The few extra moves in the German variation slow the process down a bit, but with practice, a nice, steady rhythm will develop.

For the No-Knot method, wrap the yarn around your hand; place needle under strand and twist it around as shown.

Maneuver the needle over and under the strands as shown to create the cast-on stitch.

By Mari Lynn Patrick

As much as we all do love to knit, binding off may well be the most satisfying of all knitting procedures. It signals that we are near the finish of a piece and locks in the many hours of loving work. Binding off can also give shape to a piece, such as in the curve of an armhole or the roundness of a sleeve cap. It also serves as the first step in the two-step horizontal buttonhole, and it is even used throughout some three-dimensional stitch patterns.

There is a large array of bind-off methods, from the basic one, with which most of us are familiar, to more specific techniques, such as suspended and invisible bind-offs for ribbing edges. There is also a decrease bind-off for holding together stitches in patterns that spread out too readily. There are many decorative bind-offs to suit perfectly an edge that will later stand on its own, such as the outer edge of an afghan, a baby's jacket or a fine pointelle knit in cotton.

Pointelle Stitches

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