One of my favorite cast ons to use when knitting from the top-down is the crocheted temporary cast on.
When using a crocheted chain, I knit or purl into the back of a chain to add stitches to the neck. That way I can slowly add to the neckline and give it shape. Scooped neck, v-neck or just a lowered neck that won’t ride up when wearing.
1. Use a large crochet hook with yarn larger than the project.
This allows for the stitches to be seen easier on the temporary cast on.
2. Work more chains than you need for the project.
As you are knitting or purling into the back of the chain, chains beside each other can get quite small and it is easy to pass them over. It is much better to have extra chains dangling at each end un-used than to grab more waste yarn and create another section of chain.
3. Whether you knit or purl into the chain makes no difference on the look of the neckline. But it will make a difference when you take the stitches off the chain.
When you use a contrasting color of waste yarn, it is very easy to see the “bump” from the knit or purl. When this “bump” is facing you, purl into the chain to add stitches. When it is facing away from you, knit. That way all the stitches are on one side of the crocheted chain for an easier pick up.
4. When working back and forth on the chain it is very easy to add another loop around the crocheted chain.
It is better to pick up too many stitches than missing a chain, but to help that I have started to use a contrasting color of waste yarn to pick up each section of stitches using a tapestry needle. So, after I pick up and knit six stitches into six chains I weave the waste yarn through six stitches. When I cut away the crocheted chain all my stitches are on the waste yarn for easy sliding onto needles.
5. Shortly after all the stitches are worked onto the crocheted chain I remove the crocheted chain.
It makes it easier to see the shape of the neckline. AND if I am unlucky and cut my working yarn and can’t fix the problem, I am not too far into the project to start over. Then another big plus: I am ready to pick up the stitches and work the neck edge at any time. I like finishing the neck (usually after separating the sleeves from the body) to tell how the sweater will actually fit and look like at the neck. ANOTHER reason to knit top-down – you know what the sweater is going to look like BEFORE it is finished. Adjustments can be made BEFORE it is too late.
Knowing tips and tricks for this cast on makes it a breeze to use for other projects.