Whether you’re looking for a neat or a stretchy finish to your knitted project, there are lots of cast-off options to try. Jen Arnall-Culliford details her favourite methods.
I-cord (or idiot-cord as Elizabeth Zimmermann called it!) adds a really smart finished edge to a project. I recommend using a needle a size or two larger than that used for the project, as your stitches will be perpendicular to the main body stitches, and knitted stitches are wider than they are tall. If you want the edge to gather in slightly, then use the same-sized needle.
1. With the right side of your project facing, cast on three stitches to the end of the needle containing the stitches you intend to cast off (use the knitted, cable or backwards loop cast-on methods). (1)
2. *K2, SSK (the SSK will join the third i-cord stitch to the first of the stitches you wish to cast off). (2)
Slip the last 3 sts back to the left needle tip and pull the yarn tight across the back of the work.*
Repeat from * to * until you only have the three i-cord stitches left.
Cast off the three i-cord stitches, and weave in the ends to close the end of the cord.
An i-cord adds a really smart finished edge to your project, and is great for tailored details such as pockets.
Elizabeth Zimmermann introduced the sewn cast-off method as being a puzzle for knitters since it looks more like a cast-on edge than a cast-off one. She called it “casting-on casting-off”, and advised that although it is useful for stocking and garter stitches, it’s not advisable for ribbing. I’d be interested to know why she felt it wasn’t suitable for ribbing, since it’s my stretchy cast-off of choice for toe-up socks, and I’ve used it successfully on ribbing many times!
Break your yarn, leaving a tail at least three times as long as your desired cast-off edge. Thread the yarn onto a tapestry needle.
1. Sew through the first two stitches on the needle from right to left, as if to purl. (3)
2. Sew through the first stitch on the needle from left to right, as if to purl. (4) Slip this stitch off the needle.
3. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all stitches have been cast off. The final stitch can be slipped off the needle as it is already secured. (5)
About our expert
Jen Arnall-Culliford is a technical knitting editor and knitwear designer with an encyclopaedic knowledge of knitting techniques.
For more Midweek Masterclasses click here and remember to check back here this time next week for Part 2 of our great cast-offs masterclass!