Hook and Needle Chained Cast-On

Hello again!

It’s good to be back here after a busy and bumpy couple of weeks. What with several ups and downs, keeping up with everyday life, and helping our daughter and her boyfriend husband paint their new home…

…there hasn’t been much progress on the knitting front. All I’ve done is knit row after comforting row on my Striped Linen Stitch Wrap.

So, I thought I’d write about that a bit. I’m knitting it in 8 colours of Rowan Felted Tweed. Different colours from the ones used in the pattern, but I’ve tried to find the same balance between darker and lighter shades. I chose 5 blues/greens, 2 pinks and 1 grey.

Because some of the blues and greens are hard to distinguish in the evenings, I decided to make a colour card, similar to embroidery floss organizer cards. With the colours from A-H with their names on the front…

… and the description of the stripe sequence cut out from the pattern glued to the back. I’m using a sticky note to keep track of where I am in the pattern.

Making the card was a fun little project, and it turned out to be a handy tool. A great idea for multi-colour knitting, if I say so myself. I used a standard blank 10.5 x 5 cm (5¾ x 4¼”) correspondence card, measured out the places for the holes with a ruler and pencil, and punched the holes with an ordinary 2-hole punch held at an angle to make one hole at a time.

This linen stitch wrap starts with a provisional cast-on, which will be unravelled later to knit an I-cord along the entire length. I think the best-know type of provisional cast-on is picking up stitches from a crocheted chain – the method I used for my Thús loop.

The method used for this wrap, just called ‘provisional cast-on’ in the pattern, is a little more sophisticated. In June Hemmons Hiatt’s 2 kg/712 page tome The Principles of Knitting it is called ‘Hook and Needle Chained Cast-On’.

If you’re like me and are interested in all kinds of cast-ons and bind-offs, edge stitches, increases and decreases, etc. etc. this is definitely a book for your Birthday or Christmas wish list.

I’ve taken pictures of the Hook and Needle Chained Cast-On as I went along, hoping it might be helpful and interesting to other knitters. The method uses a knitting needle, a crochet hook and a piece of smooth waste yarn. This is how it’s done step by step.

First of all, make a slip knot in the waste yarn and place it on the crochet hook. (I took my pictures after I already had a few stitches on my needle.)

  1. Hold the knitting needle in your left hand, crochet hook in your right hand, and waste yarn over your left index finger. Knitting needle and hook form an X. The crochet hook is in front and the yarn runs behind the knitting needle.
  1. Wrap the yarn around the crochet hook…
  1. … and pull the yarn through the loop.
  1. With your finger, or with the help of your hook, return the yarn under the needle and to the back. Now it is in the same position as in step 1.

Repeat steps 1-4 until the required number of stitches is on the needle. The stitches end up on the needle like any knitting stitches, with a neat row of chains running along the length of the knitting needle. This is very easy to unravel later on.

For my wrap, I needed to cast on 400+ stitches. I didn’t time myself, but I think it took me about two hours. Phew! But I know it’s worth the time and effort.

The stitch markers (picture below) are there to make counting this large number of stitches easier. I removed them as soon as I started knitting.

This was meant to be a project I would only work on in between projects requiring more attention. But the long rows of linen stitch are so addictive that I’m over halfway already. The white stitches along the bottom are the provisional cast-on.

I’m going to put it aside for a while now, though, because after a rainy and cold spring, it suddenly feels like summer! Thanks to all of the rain, our front garden is a sea of lush greenery, with white, pink and purple aquilegias…

… and here and there a lupin.

It’s far too hot to have a large woolly wrap on my lap now. My mind is already bubbling with ideas for projects for summery temperatures, but I also think I should finish a few things before I start anything new. Last week, I thought I had run out of ideas and things to write about, and now I don’t know what to do first or last. I’m so glad it was only a temporary slump.

I hope your life is moving along without too many bumps in the road. See you again next week (if I don’t get held up or sidetracked again)!

8 thoughts on “Hook and Needle Chained Cast-On”

  1. Thanks for the tip on the book. I learned the hook cast-on last year but I forget from where.

    I love the pictures from your garden!

    • Since writing the post, I discovered that the book has its own website. Worth checking out if you’re considering buying it. The garden is such a joy at the moment! Isn’t it great that you can come and visit without having to hop on a plane or train.

  2. Love your colors of Felted Tweed!

    This is my preferred method as well. I use it for top-down pullovers and cardigans: I omit the neck ribbing, cast on the stitches I need after that provisionally with this hook/needle method and work my sweater. When all is finished, I try it on and knit some short rows for an elevation on the back and finally the neck ribbing, so the height is perfect front and back. Since this method is very stretchy, it’s easy to try on the pullover or a steekes cardigan over the head.

    • Oh, that’s interesting! I’ve never thought of using a provisional cast-on in that way. I can see that it will be very useful for customizing the neck height.

  3. What a lovely wrap, the colors are beautiful. Thank you for the book suggestion, looks like a winner.

    Your garden looks lush, enjoy. Our garden has been taken over by 17-year cicadas (Brood X), they’re everywhere!

    • Thank you! It is a pleasure to knit. I’ve looked up your Brood X cicadas (had never heard of them). Is it a plague? Do they eat everything in your garden? Or is it interesting to witness their emergence and nice to hear their song? It isn’t clear to me from what I read.

  4. It feels like a plague because our neighborhood is inundated with them. I have netting over my favorite hydrangea because the females drill holes into branches to lay their eggs. Other than that, they don’t harm the garden. It’s unpleasant to sit on the patio because they are clumsy and land in my coffee or on my plate. But it’s only for a month and I’m enjoying their antics and singing. Here’s an interesting link: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/26/sex-mad-and-spectacular-17-incredible-facts-about-cicadas

    • Oh, that is very interesting on the one hand, but on the other it also has unpleasant aspects. Thanks for the info.

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