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Stranded Knitting Discussion: Part 4 - Needles and Casting On (Video Episode 5)

Fixed circular needles.

Needles Used

I wish I could tell you a definitive needle selection for stranded work. “Use these needles and you will produce fabulous stranded work every time.” Sadly, this is not possible and the preferences for needles for stranded knitting is as varied as the selection of needles itself. You will have to try different needles out for yourself and see what suits your hands and needs. My only suggestion is wooden needles are generally appreciated by beginners…for the same reason they can help with arriving at the correct gauge/tension. When you are trying out a new technique, the last thing you need is the slick speed of highly finished metal needles.

As to my preferences, I frequently use fixed circulars with fairly sharp tips...and as smooth of a join as I can find between the needle and the cable. I seldom use interchangeables mostly because I usually work with US sizes 0-4 (2.0-3.5mm) needles. These sizes are rarely included in interchangeable sets.

As to brands, I’m afraid I use whatever brand I can get my hands on that suits my needs and is fairly affordable. I know there are those among you that swear by one brand of needle or another…but I just don’t. Sorry.

Casting On (including several two or more color edge treatments)

Decisions on how to begin a stranded knitting project are pretty much the same for stranded work as for single color knitting. There is a wide variety of methods out there…long tail, knitted, cable, the various forms of stretchy or provisional cast-ons.

I have heard that the traditional way to cast on for a sweater or jumper is a cable cast on...but I think there are several definitions of "traditional". So...bottom line: Your job is to choose your favorite or the one that best suits the project you are working on. What do I do...I'm afraid I pretty much cop out and use a long tail cast on in one color for about everything.

But that's just me....when it comes to beginning in more than one color, there are also a number very creative methods to you can use.

Lavian Braid

If you are interested in braids, this is an example of a Lavian braid which can be used both at the edge of a garment or mitts as well as in the body to delineate the yoke, for example.

There are several tutorials that recommend two color cast-ons to begin with in a variety of styles....whether one color for the foundation (the thumb color in a long tail cast on) and another color for the stitch (the index finger in a long tail cast on) OR alternating these two colors to get alternating stitches for your cast on round.

Two color cast-ons can also be used for corrugated ribbing. Just in case you don’t know…corrugated ribbing is a rib sometimes used in stranded work. It is usually K2, P2 where the knit stitches are worked in one color and the purl stitches are worked in another color. Sometimes the color for the knit stitches is fixed and the purl stitches are worked in a variety of colors.

Saluda Grade cuff

Folk School - alternate colorway

Another variation is both the knit and purl stitches are worked in more than one color.


Criosanna cuff

Dublin Pullover

Dublin Pullover





To be perfectly honest, I find the two color cast-on for a corrugated rib extremely clever….but I rarely use it…preferring to cast on in the color of the first knit stitches. I feel this adds a foundation color to the edge. Again, tho, just the way I prefer.

Another option for edging is a turned hem with uses a purl round as the turning round. The hem facing is a wonderful place to add some additional colorwork….just in case you cannot get enough.



Also, you might need to know, this facing is sometimes worked in a slightly smaller needle as the circumference of the facing is slightly smaller than the body of the garment. This is especially true with a large garment like a sweater.

There is also a picot edge… which, when knitted in the round, is accomplished by knitting as many rounds as you want for the hem facing. Then, as the turning round, [k2tog (or SSK, I suppose), YO] to the end of the round. This creates a series with holes where the YO’s are….but when folded, creates a lovely scalloped edge.

One of my favorites is a picot edge where the color used for the hem facing and YO round is different than the front side of the garment…creating different colored picot “bumps” that peek out from the edge.

Maiolica tam and mitts

Maiolica tam and mitts

picot edging sample

Saluda Sunrise

Saluda Sunrise shawl

But these are just a few options of cast-ons and edgings for stranded garments. Go exploring. I am sure you will find a million more on line. That's it for this time.

Next up: a brief look at knitting in the round.

FYI, I talk more about this topic on my podcast series on Stranded Colorwork Knitting. You can find the series and other videos under the Podcasts. There is also a tab for Tutorials for Stranded Colorwork.

If you have any questions or gentle comments, please feel free to send me an email. I'd love to hear from you.

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