You finally finished knitting those cozy socks, only to find out the cuff is so snug it might be cutting off your circulation. The curse of the too-tight cast-on strikes again. (Ugh!) This easy-to-make knitting mistake is particularly problematic for garments like socks, as well as sweater cuffs, headbands, hats, and more.
If you start your first row and find that you’re shoving your needle forcefully just to get it through the cast-on stitches, then chances are your loops are too tight. Bad news: You probably need to start over. Good news: You can keep it from happening again with the tips below.
1. Cast on using two needles
Hold two needles together and cast on as usual. The second needle should either be the same size or smaller than the first. If you're already using a smaller needle, like a size 2 needle for socks, then putting two size 2 needles together works just fine. However, if you're starting with a big needle, like a size 11, then pair it 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 before switching back over when you’re ready to start your project. 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.
3. Check the space between the stitches
Can’t see your knitting needle between the stitches? Are the stitches jammed up against each other? Are you pushing the stitches close together as you cast on? If you answered yes, then your cast-on is definitely too tight! Fix all this by being mindful of keeping an even amount of space between stitches as you cast on. You should be able to see a bit of the needle between each one.
4. Try a different cast-on method
Many knitters have a go-to cast-on method that they're pretty darn loyal to. But you know what? It might be time to broaden your horizons! Test a few other cast-ons and see if they turn out more loose.
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.
6. Cast on when you're feeling relaxed
This is no joke! That yarn CAN TELL when you're stressed or angry. So wait to cast on for that important project until you're feeling nice and relaxed. (And maybe keep a side scarf going for when you need to knit your stressed mood right out of your system.)