Friday, January 19, 2007

"Join" In the Fun

I received this question a little while back-

Ali, Can I ask you a knitting question? I'm knitting a felted hat, and using circular needles for the first time. And I'm a little confused by the instructions. They say to:Cast on 48 stitches. Join, being careful not to twist stitches. Place marker for the beginning of round. Knit 10 rounds. (etc)But I'm stuck at the join part. What does it mean, "join"?Can you help? ~Stacy

This is a common question, one I've had to answer for more than one newbie knitting friend already. It begs an explanation.

When going through some of my books to find a pefectly worded description of just what 'joining' is I first turned to my Debbie Bliss book aptly entitled "How to Knit". I learned a lot from this book- the lessons are all very helpful and the illustrations are done quite well. I did not, however, learn how to 'join' from this book. Why not? It isn't in there.
Page 73 has the lesson on "Working in the Round"- it has a very understandable explanation of the phrase 'being careful not to twist stitches'- probably the most important part of working in the round. The book states "At this stage it is vital to check that the cast-on edge is not twisted before you join the stitches into a ring. If twisted you will end up with a permanently twisted piece of material." You'll know if you do that wrong...
The next paragraph in the book begins with "The first stitch that you work in the first round is the beginning of the round." (This is not rocket science, I know...) Hmmm, no mention of the notorious "join", hmmm... I checked the pattern she uses to practice knitting in the round- a simple child's hat found on page 85. After "Mark the end of cast on row to denote end of rounds." comes "Work 12 rounds..." No mention of "join." Why?
Well, maybe because the Brittish don't need to make a relatively simple task seem daunting. Joining comes naturally- you join the end to the beginning, thus creating the round. It's not really a separate step.
When using circular needles, as in the hat question above, you "hold the needle tip with the last cast-on stitch in your right hand and the tip with the first cast-on stitch in your left hand. Knit the first cast-on stitch, pulling the yarn tight to avoid a gap." (Vogue Knitting Quick Reference- my favorite 'carry in your bag' knitting 'how-to' book...)
If using double-pointed needles "Place a stitch marker after the last cast-on stitch. With free needle, knit the first cast-on stitch, pulling the yarn tightly."
So, basically, when you bring your stitches around to form your circle (the round, again, not rocket science...) when you then knit into the first stitch you have just "joined". Nothing to it.

I think what is confusing is the way it's written in many patterns as though it is an actual separate step- it's not really, separate, that is.

You can find a very helpful video of the joining process and the accompanying knitting in the round at I hope this helps!
Happy knitting,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to stop by and say "hi"! I look forward to seeing more of your creations!!

1/21/2007 12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the explaination. i figured it was something like that. i'm not there yet, but i was looking ahead a little b/c i love using circulars! they're the best!
side note: did you see that 'one skein' is having a trunk show in maple grove? it starts tomorrow and goes through the 29th. wanna go?

1/21/2007 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yes, that was me!!! (Stacy. Reforming-mama-Stacy.)
Thank you for answering it so completely.
I had wondered if that was the case, because I couldn't figure out what on earth it meant, otherwise.

Thanks again!!!

1/27/2007 10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ali -- any chance you or Blue Sky Alpacas will be at the CYO Knit Out at the Mall of America next weekend?

2/10/2007 4:49 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Um, no... I thought about going personally, but I've had sick kids and it's cold out! Blue Sky Alpaca will not be represented there, and that kinda stinks. They offered to be and got a sorta 'no thank you' from the CYO people... they don't know what they're missing!
Maybe next year...

2/17/2007 2:34 PM  

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