The Knitting Gatekeepers have a new single out. It's called "You're doing it all wrong"
by Hanna Gough
"How are you doing that?" asks a student as they watch me cast on over Zoom. It's just a cast on that I have always used but it looks very different to theirs. I assure them that it's nothing to panic about. There is no 'right' way to cast on. I don't use right in its absolute meaning here as we all know that there are plenty of wrong ways to do it, but you know what I mean.
Before we go any further, I want to say that I don't believe the art of knitting is something that can be 'mastered'. This mountain has no summit. There is always something new to learn. There are different ways to do things. Yes, even for the "I've been knitting for 40 years" gang. Whether it is how you hold your needles, how you do colourwork, wind your yarn or count your stitches, everyone can do it differently and nothing bad will happen.
I am always wary of beginner tutorials that encourage one method of casting on and offer no alternatives. They don't have to explain them there and then- just mentioning that they exist would be enough. New knitters need to know that there are alternatives. There is nothing quite like being unable to do something the way it is shown and thinking it is always you at fault. As a teacher, I encourage students to feel things out their own way, so that disabilities, discomfort or distractions don't affect their enjoyment of knitting. No one should feel bad for doing things differently and achieving the same result.
My use of the backwards loop cast on is not usually recommended for casting on but that doesn't mean it's wrong. I can knit my first row with no trouble. Perhaps it is not always recommended because others perceive it as 'a bit fiddly' but guess what- I find long tail and continental fiddly too.
People will say that the 'German stretch cast on' is the best to use for socks. I say use whatever is comfortable and can be adapted to suit stretch. That could involve using a finger space between each stitch, casting on loosely or casting on over a larger needle. There are many ways to do it! Find what works for you.
I have a firm belief that knitting is the hobby that keeps on giving. There is so much potential for growth. Learning to knit is really only the beginning of so many things, and you should expect to hit bumps every now and then.
I learned to knit mostly from books, but I needed videos to show me how the end result was achieved. This didn't stop me from learning things that were actually wrong. For example, a nice lady in one video was demonstrating the 'continental' cast on and I thought "that works for me" only to then discover many years later that it was actually the backwards loop. It still served a purpose, so getting the name wrong hadn't affected anything, but it is ok to be wrong.
As they say on Twitter "You do you".