How to Choose Your Cast on and Bind off

We all know that first impressions and last impressions are important. We also know how a novel begins can either grab you or bore you, and how it ends has the power to dazzle you or leave you cold. Beginnings and endings are so important that in theatre, whole rehearsals are devoted to ins and outs (or my favorite theatre name: Tops and Tails), so doesn’t your knitting deserve the same considerations.

Cast Ons and Bind Offs!

There are so many amazing cast ons and bind offs, but how do you choose? I teach three different classes just on cast on and bind offs, so I’ve given it (a little) thought. Here’s my guide to

5 Considerations for How to Choose Your Cast on and Bind off

1) What Do You Need it to Do

When thinking about a cast on, the first consideration is form. Do I need it to be a firm edge, do the stitches need to be kept live (provisional cast on), does it need to go into a rib, or does it need to be super stretchy.

Here’s a pair of cast on and bind offs that not only look good together

2 Needle Extra Stretchy Cast On & Elastic Bind Off

but do this . . .

Soooo s..t..r..e..t..c..h..y

2) What Do You Want it to Look Like

Sometimes you might want to add a bit of bling bling to the edges of your work. A decorative cast on and bind off can make a plain pattern look special. Here’s a few of my favorites.

Picot Cast On and Bind Off

Two Color I-cord Cast On and Bind Off

This one took me a while to figure out, but I finally mastered a two color i-cord cast on (not an applied i-cord!).

Not only are these starts and finishes pretty, but they also match which brings me to . . .

3) Should the Cast on and Bind Off Edge Match

The most common request I get from scarf and shawl knitters is for cast on / bind off combos that look good together. One of my favorite thing to do in class is to teach paired cast on and bind offs, that look great together, like:

German Twisted Cast On & Double Crochet Bind Off

Crochet Cast On & Icelandic Suspended Bind Off

4) What Will You Be Doing to the Edge

Another thing you want to consider for your edges, is what will happen to them. Some lovely bind offs, leave a twisted stitch edge. These look great on their own, but if you have to pick up stitches or seam the edge later, it’s much harder in a twisted stitch

5) What Do You Enjoy!

This may seem obvious, but which cast on you love doing, matters. One of my students fell so in love with learning to cast on, in pattern, with German Twisted Cast On, it became her go to. She told me she loved the look of it, but mostly, she really loved the act of casting on!!

Keep your eyes out for the next time I teach one of my cast on and bind off classes. I think you’ll have fun!!

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  • Maria Smirensky February 16, 2017   Reply →

    I’m hoping to make it to Webs. Would love to learn.

  • Gail February 16, 2017   Reply →

    Enrolled in your KAL Tortola. Ordered Cashmere 365.
    Would you be able to give me the name of company I can order Hiya Hiya needles.

    Also enrolled in Craftsy- Improve your knitting. Learning….
    What would be difference between Craftsy class and Improve Knitting Techniques at Webs?

    Thank you!

  • Gail February 16, 2017   Reply →

    Okay just found stores that sell Hiya Hiya needles from your tutorial on cast on and bind off.

    Still curious about the classes.


  • Karen February 19, 2017   Reply →

    Hi Patty, for those of us overseas, are you planning to do a cast on/ bind off class for Craftsy?

  • Sarah February 20, 2017   Reply →

    I’m going to have a newborn soon so unfortunately I will not be making the classes, but I do love HiyaHiya! I enjoyed reading this article. Thank you!

  • Kerrie August 28, 2017   Reply →

    Enjoyed this article!

    It is interesting in matching cast-ons and bind offs.

    It like the Twisted German for stretchy cast-on because of the more structure it offers larger projects like sweater hems. Hadn’t considered the double crochet bind off before. Nice pairing! In the past, I’ve paired the Twisted German Cast on with the Icelandic Bind Off.

  • Barbara Sadlier October 2, 2019   Reply →

    Thanks for the article! I need to branch out and use more than the long tail cast on and the knitted bind off, at least I think that’s what it’s called! I won’t see you at Vogue, but I will see you at Stitches West in February.

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