Recently, I've taken up a lot of lace projects - especially since I'm knitting for myself this year. I just adore lace! It's entertaining, challenging, and not to mention beautiful when completed. My non-knitting friends always "oooooh and aaaaah" over my lace projects (once they're blocked of course)! So, in the midst of knitting and constantly browsing through triangle lace shawls, I've become attracted to lace stoles and scarves as well. I've always loved scarves and their wider sisters, stoles, but I seem to have never knit true lace ones before now.
So, I came across the Spring Leaves stole pattern AGAIN for the umpteenth time, and I just had to cast on immediately. You know that feeling! Well, guess what! This pattern has you cast on provisionally. That way you can knit in one direction and when you are finished with that side, you can pick up your cast on and knit the opposite direction. This allows the pretty lace pattern (in this case lacy leaves) to all face the same direction at the ends of your stole. ALRIGHT! I'm going to be honest here: I had never done a provisional cast on up until then or at least properly that is. I'd avoided it like the plague and found alternative methods of doing things when it was asked of me to accomplish. Now that you know my deep dark knitting secret, you can take a deep breath! I'm not really the Superwoman Knitter you thought I was!
This dilemma of NO provisional cast on's set me on a YouTube and internet search for the most perfect way to accomplish my first real attempt at using a provisional cast on. I defaulted to my tried-and-true favorite knitting specialist: techknitting.com. TechKnitter is so smart, helpful, talented and deserves lots of gold stars for her tutorials/pictorials that she offers for FREE on her blog. Hands down my favorite knitting technique blogger!
After lots of debating, I decided to use her COWYAK method (not sure why I can't link to the article directly, but you can find it under the "NEW Revised Unified Index" and then scroll down to "CAST ON: provisional"). COWYAK stands for "CAST ON (with) WASTE YARN AND KNIT." Simple enough, I thought...
Silly me! I finished my first half and went to pick up my 77 sts that were provisionally "waiting" for me on the other end. Now, I'm a woman who does have some patience (I knit lace for goodness sakes!), but I don't seem to have much patience for activities that stress me out and give me heart burn (like live stitches in my half finished lace stole). I probably spent 30 brutal minutes or more just picking up the stitches one by one, counting, examining, counting, staring, shaking, cursing... you get the idea. I vowed never to put myself through knitting hell like this again. Knitting is supposed to be my calm producing agent in all the chaos of life, not the instigator of my cortisol levels rising!
Obviously, my obsession with stoles and lace scarves had not diminished, but now only increased after my dramatic experience - probably because I knew deep down I had to conquer this ridiculous fear of provisional cast on's. Us, knitters, can be so stubborn sometimes. Why can't I just be satisfied with what I know and know well?! So, I found another smaller project with a provisional cast on that was less stressful if I needed to rip back, behold the Traveling Woman Scarf. This time I was determined to find a different method to use and remembered that Knitty had had an article a long while back about a magical provisional cast on. It had the word Magic in it, so it had to be good! I went searching through Knitty and quickly found this article. Ummmmm... this was definitely the article I had vaguely recalled, but I wasn't knitting socks though! Crap! I kept reading the instructions and going through the article over and over when the light bulb came on and I thought "Hey, I can use this same method, but just knit each side flat versus in the round."
I grabbed some scrap yarn, found a YouTube video to follow along with and set to work. BTW, Cat Bordhi is a riot to listen to! Once I got the hang of the cast on itself, I knitted 10 or so rows in one direction using only one of the needles/sides, set that down and then picked up my other circular needle I had used to cast on with (the one that was chillin' utter style as Cat would say) and started knitting the opposite direction. It totally worked!! I was so happy that I did a little dance! Note: you do need to have two of the same size circular needles to use for this method, or use interchangeables and swap out needle ends as needed.
The real test came when I used it on the scarf project itself. I cast on that same evening, knit one bottom lace end of the scarf, and then just picked up my waiting circular needle at the other end and knit in the opposite direction. It was MAGIC! My only alteration I made was to drop the first and last five stitches and reverse them from knit to purl stitches, because the edges of the scarf are done in garter stitch and I wanted the pattern to not be broken here. Wow, oh wow! I was as happy as clam in high water!
I'm sure I'm not the only one that's done this before and I am by no means claiming stakes to this trick. Just wanted to share my l'il knitting story with you and what helped me to over come one of my many knitting fears! Do you have a stress reducing knitting tip you wanna share? Come on, tell us all your secret tricks!!
Hugs and stitches!