We all get terribly stuck in ruts, so I was very pleased to be sent a book for review: Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods by Leslie Ann Bestor. I’m hoping it might broaden my horizons…
That’s because my own particular rut is a very emphatic one. I cast on in one way, have done for years, and – rather daringly – have just added a second cast off (I can’t quite bring myself to call it a ‘bind off’) to the one I usually use. I know, it’s ridiculous.
Let’s tackle the cast-on question first. My mother taught me to do what I believe is a version of the long-tail, thumb, cast-on and I’ve passed it on to other people, but that’s it. I can’t be doing with anything else. Oh, I know: it’s not universally appropriate, but I like it and it does me. I don’t need to change, no way… Only, of course, I often do.
It’s a good cast-on, it’s a neat cast-on – once you come to terms with the fact that your first row of knitting will be a wrong-side row – but there are so many variations on a theme, so many which are more appropriate in some circumstances. This neat little book has made me realise just how narrow I have been. And it’s not just about the purely functional: choosing a tight or loose cast on according to what I’m knitting (they’re divided into functional groups for ease of use). It’s also about some really interesting decorative possibilities.
I am a complete numpty when it comes to following instructions (as the members of my knitting group can attest after the trauma of the Dreadful Crochet Instruction evening, which left everyone horribly scarred). But I can follow these, and there’s a great incentive, especially when it comes to multicoloured cast-ons:
How cute is that? And it really works, too.
The range is eclectic, and covers some regional variants such as the Channel Islands cast-on (in the first dps above), which is made with an extra strand of yarn and holds up well. There are some really clear instructions for a moebius cast-on, and I’ve managed that too: another thing I’d had a wild but unsatisfactory stab at until now.
The bind-offs (oh, I give up) are equally excellent, and I’ve been playing around with the picot ones. It’s taken me some time to get them right, but I cracked it in the end; as you can tell, the illustrations are excellent. And even this numpty can follow them.
Ah yes, that brings me to another book I’ve been sent. I’m going to have to pass this one on to one of my friends for feedback because the Dreadful Crochet Instruction evening was a complete disaster as well as dreadful. I can’t crochet. Having seen this, though, I’m more motivated to learn. It’s by Edie Eckman, and some of these motifs are absolutely gorgeous.
The only problem is that if I dare to mention that I might vaguely, possibly, just perhaps like to have another go at learning to crochet, all my friends will leave the country. It’ll be like the mass Boxing-Day-swim scenes on our beach, only they won’t stop to change their clothes first.