Cast Ons - Do They Matter?
When you are just beginning to knit it seems like quite a feat to master the long tail cast-on. You don't get to practice it as often as you do knitting and the alternating twists and pick ups can be confusing. It’s no wonder once we get it we stick to it for almost all cast-ons.
But as you will find out as you try out new patterns, sometimes a different cast on can make a difference. The most common reason to choose a different cast on is elasticity. The regular long tail cast on may not be stretchy enough for certain garments like socks. Apart from those of us blessed with thin heels and feet, it can be difficult to get that sock opening over your heel and foot. One of my favorite stretchy cast-ons is the old Norwegian cast on. Similar to the long tail cast on it requires knowing how much tail to leave but requires a slightly different sequence of hand maneuvers to achieve. It is well worth the trouble if you don't want your sock to cut off circulation to your foot! Other stretchy cast- ons include Jeny's Stretchy Cast on and the German Twisty Cast-on.
Another reason to choose a different cast on is frustration with having to determine the length of your tail before you start. Sure there are tricks to help with this, but when you are asked to cast-on over 200 stitches for the start of your sweater who wants to risk not having enough?!! In this case the cable cast on comes in handy. Just start with a slip knot and knit new stitches onto your needle. Just keep on going until you have the right number of stitches.
My favorite reason for choosing a different cast on is decorative. I recently knit a pair of fingerless gloves which introduced me to a wonderful new decorative cast on. The Crosswise Cadence gloves uses a delightfully easy slip stitch pattern that showcases variegated yarns and uses the double strand long tail cast-on.
If you are intrigued by different cast-ons and cast-offs, I highly recommend Cast on, Bind off by Leslie Ann Bestor.