Trying to fix knitting mistakes is no party, like when you’ve knitted an entire sock only to discover that a tight cast on is causing the cuff to cut off the circulation in your ankle. Argh.
A too-tight cast on can make for a very uncomfortable sock cuff, sweater hem, headband, hat — practically any garment or accessory pattern will suffer from a tight cast on. If you start the first row and find that you’re shoving your needle forcefully just to get it through the cast on stitches, then chances are that your cast on is too tight.
Want to avoid lots of swearing and hair pulling when you fix knitting mistakes? Use these tricks to trouble shoot your too-tight cast on.
Use two size 2 needles to cast on for a pair of socks
1. Cast on using two needles.
Place two needles together and cast on as usual. The second needle can be the same size as the needle you’re using for your project, or it can be a needle that’s smaller. I often find that if I’m casting on with a smaller needle, like a size 2 needle for socks, then putting two size 2 needles together to cast on works just fine.
However, if I’m knitting with a larger needle, like a size 11, then I might stick a size 11 needle with a size 6 needle to cast on. Putting two large needles together can create the opposite problem, a cast on that’s too loose!
2. Cast on with a larger needle.
If your cast on is just a little too tight, consider going up a needle size for the cast on, then switching back over when you’re ready to start your project. So for example, if you’re knitting a hat with a size 8 needle, cast on using a size 9 needle. Then switch back over to the size 8 needle when you start the first row.
Can’t see your knitting needle between the stitches? Your cast on is definitely too tight!
3. Check the space between the stitches.
Are the stitches jammed up against each other? Are you pushing the stitches too close together as you cast on? This could be the problem. Don’t use your hand to push stitches right up next to each other. Check out the space as you cast on and just be sure that there’s an even amount of space between stitches. You should be able to see a bit of the needle between each stitch.
4. Try a different cast on.
Some of us just get hung up on a particular type of cast on and we use it for everything. But maybe the cast on you’re using just isn’t working out. Test a few other cast ons and see if they turn out more loose.
Not sure which cast on to try? Bluprint instructor Aurora Sisneros can show you dozens of ways in her class 40 Ways to Cast On & Bind Off. She’ll show you cast ons for every type of project, from ribbing to stretchy cast ons and even temporary cast ons.
5. Anchor the stitches as you cast them onto the needle.
Once you have three or four stitches on your needle, use your other hand to hold onto the stitches and anchor them. Otherwise, you’re pulling the working yarn way too tightly as you cast on, making the tension very tight.
6. Cast on when you’re feeling relaxed.
I’ve talked about this with gauge before, too, but when you’re stressed or angry your knitting tends to reflect that. My stitches are the loosest when I’m most relaxed. Make sure you de-stress before you cast on and that might just fix your too-tight cast on.
Don’t be afraid to rip out a cast on and start again. It’s better than finishing the project, only to realize that the hat doesn’t fit your head, or that the sweater hem is making your body look like an inflated balloon.
How do you usually solve a too-tight cast on? Any tips to share?
Learn 40 Ways to Cast On!
Start every project with a cast-on that sets you up for success, and finish with the perfect bind-off to complete your project in fantastic fashion.