Thursday, April 03, 2008

knit tip #1: casting on a bazillion stitches

Howdy, friends. Today's post is a bit knitterisch.

Over on the Ravelry, I tend to get a lot of questions in my message box. Mainly they're questions that at first blush seem to be questions about my specific pattern designs, but upon reflection, many are really turn out to be general and interesting knitting questions. Like, what in the hell does PSSO stand for? And I don't understand what you mean by "set-in sleeve."

So even though there are a lot of incredible sources for knitting tips and advice out there, I figured what the heck, I'll add another. Starting today, and happening every... oh... once in a while, I'm going to post a knitting tip or trick. I hope that some of y'all will jump in and add your two (or three) cents to the topics, because I know there is a wealth of knitting expertise out there among you, and I want to know your tricks, too!

Today's knit tip topic: Casting on a bazillion stitches.

Casting on a bazillion stitches is very difficult for me, for two reasons: one, I don't have that much patience, and two, I can't count past twenty without losing my place. So I use stitch markers to help me find my way. It goes like this:


Cast on 20 stitches, put on a stitch marker. Cast on 20 stitches, put on a stitch marker... and so on until you reach your desired extremely large number of stitches. Instead of counting stitches, you can count markers, and then just multiply by twenty (yes, this involves math. Sorry I didn't warn you first).

I used to be very frugal and cast on something like 50 stitches at a time, because I didn't have that many stitch markers. Then I discovered the greatest and cheapest stitch markers in the world: Sc√ľnci hair elastics. They come 24 or more to a pack in a rainbow of colors, for 1/10 the price of dedicated stitch markers. They're also soft & flexible, which I find nicer to work with than the rigid plastic things that cost ten times as much.

Of course, you can cast on 50 stitches at a time if you want to and you can count that high. Or if you are counting-challenged like me, you can cast on 10 or even 5 stitches per marker. There are no rules in the world of hair elastic cast-ons!

This technique has been used more than I would like this week. First I had to cast on the 336 lovely stitches you see above, but after knitting for about 6 inches of sweater, I checked my gauge and found that the gnawing "this looks too big" feeling in my stomach was right, as always. So I ripped it all out and cast on the more appropriate 248 stitches last night. I should have made a much bigger gauge swatch - but I guess that's a topic for another post.


  1. what a good idea :-)
    i use scraps of different coloured yarn as cheap stitch markers, they're maybe not as good but i can make as many of them as i like!

  2. swatch...pfha! that is a great idea, and completely obvious! why didn't I think of doing? I just like counting and re-counting.... the hair ties are a great idea too... you are really on the great ideas today, Ms. Pea! ;D!

  3. What a great idea! I usually end up counting over and over and over. Not anymore!


  4. Counting out loud helps me not lose track.

    Also what I do, if I have to cast on a LOT, is just go without counting until it looks like I have close to the right number of stitches. Then I count them in sets of 3 up to 30, place a stitch marker, count the next 30 and move the stitch marker to there...and so on until I know how many stitches I have. Then I just pull off or cast on however many more stitches I need to get the right number.

    Works because even if I keep perfect track of what I'm doing, I count them again when I'm done anyways. And this way I don't have to freak myself out while I'm casting on going "twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-eight...damnit!"

  5. I've been using stitch markers that people have given me as gifts, but hair elastics! What a great idea, and then I'll have lots of extras around if my hair is getting in the way and all my knitting needles are occupied. ;)

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  7. hello pea,

    i had read this blog before adding you, your drawing of yourself is so cute...
    i had to have those markers all at once for a project and had hated the plastic ones i had seen. i buy stuff and keep it and i happened to have gauge wire from a hardstore i go looking around for "beautiful things" when the buyers think i am an expert at home repair or something, hehe.
    i made one and gave "chris" the wire and his tool box and he made me like 20.
    i learned my lesson that i needed "go anywhere" size and this time "rounded" them on size 15 mm needles.
    i really love your dress in "cream" and bright blue :) i'd wear one like it too.
    would you?

  8. That's a great idea! Thanks!

  9. That's a great idea! Thanks!

  10. I have always used paper clips as stitch markers. I really like the color coated ones. I just open them up a bit and slip them around the stitch. Those and colored safety pins are my lifesavers. Kimberly


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