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  • A Provisional Cast On
  • Unzipping a provisional cast on
  • Adding beads to your work with a crochet hook
  • The afterthought thumb
  • The three needle cast off
  • The Elizabeth Zimmerman backward loop increase
  • The Russian Bind Off
  • Channel Island knotted cast on



Provisional Cast On

A provisional cast on leaves you with a row of live stitches which you can use later as in the Crumplehorn Snood, where these live stitches are then used to work a three needle cast off to join the loop of the snood.

There are several different ways to work a provisional cast on but I would like to share with you, my favourite kind and the one that I find the easiest.

Firstly, take a waste piece of yarn in a contrast colour and, using a crochet hook of a size which works with the weight of yarn you are using, make a chain a few stitches longer than the number of stitches you want to cast on. Work the chain as follows;


1:  Make a slip knot on the crochet hook.


2: Wrap the yarn over the hook.


3: Pull the yarn through the stich on the hook. This creates one chain. Now repeat these last 2 steps until the chain is as long as you need. Break the yarn and thread through the last chain and pull tight to finish. Adda few chains more than you need at the end plus a couple of knots.This will be the endyou unzip your cast on from and the extra chains plus knots will help you remember which end to begin.


4:  Next, turn over the chain. You will see a line of bumps running along the bottom. You will be working your first row of stitches through each of these bumps


5:  Using your knitting needle and working yarn, select the first bump at the beginning of  your crochet chain and insert your needle through this bump from front to back.


6:  Wrap the yarn around the needle as if to knit and pull back through the chain. One stitch picked up. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you have the amount of stitches required.

Unzipping’ the provisional cast on.

When it is time to undo the provisional cast on, select the end of the crochet chain which has the extra stitches andknots and begin here. ie: the end you finished crocheting.


1: Unravel or snip your slip knot on the crochet chain and unzip the first stitch. Place this stitch onto your knitting needle.


2: Repeat along the chain until all the stitches are unzipped and safely on your knitting needle.This method always leaves you with one stitch short. You will need to pick up an extra stitch at the end of the row to compensate. Now work with these stitches as directed in the pattern.



Adding Beads to your knitting with a crochet hook

I was taught to add beads to my knitting by threading them endlessly onto my working yarn and then applying using the ‘knit-in’ or slip stitch method. Lugging all those beads make things heavy and labour intensive and a bit of a faff, to tell the truth. All this changed one morning at my local Knit n natter club. My good friend and fellow designer Anniken Allis was working on one of her beaded shawls and she was applying beads with a crochet hook. I was amazed at the simplicity of the idea. It was quick, spontaneous and she could place each bead exactly where she needed it with or without planning. She taught me in about 5 seconds and this is the technique I have used ever since. All you need to invest in is a crochet hook, US 13/UK 0.75mm or US 15/UK 0.05mm depending on the size of beads used. For 5ply Guernsey yarn, I use 6mm beads with a 0.75mm hook. I use this technique for the Little Laney Mittens.

beading with hook1

1: Place the bead onto the crochet hook.

beading with hook2

2: Lift the stitch you want to bead, off of the left hand needle

beading with hook3

3: Position the stitch into the hook of the crochet hook and slip the bead onto the stitch.

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4: Place the stitch back onto the left hand needle

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5: Knit in the usual way.


Afterthought Thumb

The Afterthought thumb is the genius of Elizabeth Zimmerman. There are slight variants on how to achieve it but this is my version of it. I use this technique in the Little Laney Mittens. Give it a go, it’s simple and, in my opinion, less fiddly than using stitch holders.


1: Firstly, knit up to the point where you need to make your afterthought thumb. Take a length of contrast, waste yarn and knit across the stitches for the thumb with this new yarn.


2: Now slip the stitches back onto the left hand needle in a purlwise direction, one at a time. Drop the waste yarn, it’s work is done.


3: Using your working yarn, knit across these stitches and finish the knitting as directed. You will end up with a tube, in the case of the Little Laney Mittens, with a few coloured stitches right where the thumb will be.


4: To knit the new thumb, turn the mitten inside out. See the bumps either side of your waste yarn. You will be picking these up. Take your first double pointed needle and pick up your first stitch through the first bump as shown.Keep repeating. 


5: In the case of the Little Laney mittens, there are 8sts to be picked up on either side of the waste yarn. Pick up all eight along the first side.


6: With a second needle, pick up the eight stitches along the opposite side of the waste yarn as shown.


7: Using sharp scissors,carefully snip the waste yarn and remove.


8: Turn the mitten and needles carefully to the right side.


8: Take your working yarn and a third needle and knit across the first set of stitches, picking up 2 sts at the end to close any holes which could form at the side of the thumb. Turn your work and knit across the second set of stitches, picking up 2 sts at the end of this row. You will now have 10sts on each needle. Work the thumb as instructed.



Three Needle Cast Off

I love the three needle cast off. It is so useful for joining pieces of knitting and creating a less bulky, neat seam which still retains stretch and strength. I use it to join shoulder seams after working short rows, the toes of socks and also for projects like the Crumplehorn Snood to join the loop of the snood.

This technique is so simple that you will be glad to have mastered it and have it in your knitty repertoire.

3 needle 1

1: You will need to begin with the two pieces of knitting that you need to join together. Make sure that the right sides are together and that the needle tips are facing in the same direction.

3 needle2

2: Take a third needle and your working yarn and knit the first two stitches off both needles holding the live stitches by inserting the spare needle tip through the loops of both stitches as shown.Repeat again so you have 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

3 needle3

3: Now lift the first stitch over the second stitch just like a normal cast off. One stitch remains on the right needle.

3 needle4

Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all the stitches have been cast off.

3 needle 5


How to make a stitch using Elizabeth Zimmerman's Backward Loop Method

This ingenius method of creating a stitch is so simple you will be flabergasted after you have tried it out. It leaves an almost invisible trace on the right side of your work and has nothing fiddly or complicated  about it. I use this technique in my Hevva shawl where it blends seamlessly into the garter stitch border.

1:  Work to the place in your pattern, then with the working yarn, create a backward loop as shown.


2: place the loop on  your needle and work as directed.


The Russian Bind Off

Okay, hands up- this is another method shamelessly learnt and stolen from lace designer, Anniken Allis. She uses it to cast off shawls and this technique is the best for this as it is not only neat but extremely stretchy which is exactly what you need for a delicate lace creation.


1: Knit 2 stitches in the usual way.


2: Insert the left needle into the front loops of those 2 knitted stitches and knit them together.


3: This will leave you with one stitch on your RH needle.


4: Knit 1 and repeat steps 2 to 4 until you have cast off all your stitches.


The Channel Island Knotted Cast On

This attractive cast on leaves you with a row of picots or beads and is most attractive when bordered with a few rows of garter stitch. Made popular on the welts of the traditional Guernsey sweater, this is a technique that might seem tricky at first but is easier than you think when you get your head around it. I use it to cast on for my Porthleven Socks which you can find for FREE on my patterns page. 


1:   This cast on requires two lengths of yarn. So, before you begin, stretch out your yarn as below. It may be difficult at first, to gauge the exact amount needed for the stitches you want to cast on but after a little practise, you will be able to estimate it more easily.

ci yarn

2:   Make a slip knot and place this onto your needle. This is NOT going to be a stitch and will be unravelled later. 

ci slip knot

3:   With the single strand in your right hand, make a yarn over

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4:   Using the double tail, wrap the yarn twice around your thumb like you would for the long tail cast on.

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5:   Place needle under both loops. Wrap the single yarn around the needle tip. Draw under and out to make the stitch.

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6:  Make another yarn over.

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7:   Rep steps 4-6 , making a yarn over followed by a stitch. The yarn over will also become a stitch so include them in your stitch count. Finish with a stitch.

ci cast on row

10: Turn the row and knit across the row including all the yarn overs. Do not knit the slip stitch on the end. Just drop it off the end and let it hang. It will not unravel.

The Channel Island Cast On always looks nice with a few rows of garter stitch. Work a few more rows before undoing the initial slip stitch. The tails can be darned into the work when finishing.

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