Now here’s a good example of two steps forward and one step back.
The cable cast-on has, as its foundation, the knit-on. It begins the same:
Make a slip knot. (One stitch on needle.) Knit once into the slip knot. Draw the loop through and put it on the needle to the right of the slip knot. (Two stitches on needle.)
Those are the two steps forward. Here’s the one step back:
Instead of knitting into stitch #2, insert your needle between stitch #1 and stitch #2.
Insert needle between stitch #2 and stitch #3. Pull loop through, place on needle as stitch #4. And so on. Don’t pull these stitches too tight; leave a little slack in the loop as you place it back on the needle.
The cable cast-on gives a double edge similar in appearance to the long-tail cast-on, but it’s firm, rather than resilient. Use it where you want your cast-on edge to resist stretching. As with the long-tail, the cable cast-on is easy to knit (or purl) into.
Occasionally you’ll be instructed to insert your needle two steps back instead of one. That makes a firmer cable, which is especially useful for the one-row buttonhole.
After you’ve knitted twenty stitches of cable cast-on, compare them to your twenty stitches of knit-on. Notice how the base of the cable cast-on stitches is firmer and much less elastic than the base of the knit-on stitches.
Cast-ons are much more than just a way to get stitches on your needle. They are, in truth, the unknitted row, the base row of your garment. Choose your cast-on accordingly, paying attention to your garment’s starting line, making sure it’s appropriate for the purpose of your garment.
And remember this:
Most times, you’re on your own; the pattern will simply say CO. That’s why you need a versatile vocabulary of cast-ons.
Tomorrow, the loop over.