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  • You can cast on with two ends and not have two extra ends to weave in if your yarn is a non-superwash animal fiber. Spit splice those two ends together before you start.

    • That’s brilliant. See? Always one more thing to learn from knitters.

  • I’m knitting a Honey cowl as I was reading this out of a skein of Briar Rose Fourth if July which now seems like a poor choice seeing the pics of yours. Sigh.

    • I cannot believe that!

  • Beautiful as always, but when I read “niece” my thought was , “Wow, she sure looks like her daughter!” which of course, she was.

    Saw you at Rhinebeck but couldn’t catch your attention and didn’t want to yell and interrupt, especially as you had written that you only had the one day there. Still, sorry I wasn’t able to say hello. Next year, maybe.

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  • Love the two tails idea! I will have to try it the next cowl I cast-on.

  • The cast on tip is sort of obvious but yet so not….never thought of that approach….thank you thank you from sparing society from my long rantings of under or often more tragic over estimation of yarn for a long tail. Applauds all around………… so thrilled that M&D is back..you have been missed………Instagram and Twitter are ok but the “old” school blog is still the best……….

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  • Once upon a time, I think when Ravelry reached 4 million members, there was a list of most-this and most-that, and there was a most-faved forum post which gave a great tip about not twisting. Of course, I did not fave that most faved post and so will try to recreate it from memory… Make a long string with some loops, with beads in between. Every 10 or 20 stitches of your gigantic cast-on, slip one of the loops on your needle, with a bead or two in between. When you hold up your needle with the zillion stitches, the beaded string will hang down from its loops, and your stitches will all line up. Mirabile dictu. I think.

    • snap!

      • Ah, going off to bookmark that right now! Thanks!

  • There’s another way and it requires a tool, and who doesn’t like a new knitting tool?!

    Dee’s No-Twist CircularKnitting Cast On

    In a nutshell, you make a long, thin, flat (basically a button band) strip and either leave loop on the edge, or make it pretty with some jump rings you stitch on at evenly spaced intervals. You hang a ring in between every 10th cast on stitch, or so, and these markers help you count but the width of the strip also keeps your stitches from twisting. As you knit the first row, you can slip the markers so the strip stays in place for awhile, giving you something to hang onto, or you can just drop them off as you come to them. So, it’s reusable.

    • I’m going to have to try this contraption–I can’t quite see how it works in my mind. Thanks!

  • I’m actually headed to CraftSouth today! Need a starter kit of some kind for a 9 yr old creative type. Somebody tell me what to buy!

    • Get some short wooden needles in a size 8 or so, and ask the staff to help you find a ball of yarn that is appropriate for those needles. If it’s not wound into a ball, ask them to do that for you. Lucky 9 year old creative type!

  • I learned the “two balls of yarn” method for longtail cast-on from June Hemmons Hiatt’s Principles of Knitting, original edition. Yes, it was one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” moments. At least I figured out the “knit a few rows flat, then join for a circle” approach to circular knitting for myself.

    • June HH knows everything!

      • Indeed she does. With the original edition of Principles on my bookshelf, I thought I wouldn’t need to buy the new edition, but it turns out to include even more material and new developments. I may have to cave.

  • I’m a fan of the “knit a few rows flat” method. Always works well for me.

    • I even do this for sock tops. Just knit a row, in size #1, you’ll never know. Almost guaranteed not to twist 😉

      • Agree!

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  • My no twist method: after cast on, lay needle flat. Using scotch tape, loop a piece of tape over the cast on stitches in intervals of about 3-4 inches (depending on length of cast on edge), joining tape edges at the bottom to keep stitches from twisting. Join. Remove tape. Works like a charm.

    • This is clever! Bonus points for use of office supplies! I am going to try it next time.

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  • I am loving all the Macgyver hacks on this topic. So great. And I swear, the fabric made by the Honey Cowl pattern has to be the most satisfyingly lush and dense insulator. Just the best.

  • Ar always tips from Kay make even knitting a honey cowl easier.

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  • I have yet to knit a Honey Cowl. I know, but large numbers of cast on stitches make me even crazier than usual. Even for small circular projects like mitts I almost always knit back and forth for several rounds, (see Tricky Bit 2.1) because I also dislike that fussing and tugging of the first few rounds, though I’ve tried the tricks of casting on an extra stitch and knitting it together with the first stitch of the round, and crossing the first 2 stitches, etc. And, forgive my ignorance, but would a knitted cast-on work for the Honey Cowl, and eliminate that pesky not-enough-yarn problem? Love the woven look of it, and recently did a Half-Linen hat. It’s no cowl…but it is only 90 stitches, which all fit on a 16 inch needle!

    • I think a knitted cast-on could work, but I like the appearance of the long tail cast-on — the way it melds into the stockinette, no holes and same tightness of the knitted stitches.

    • Knitted cast on = cool idea, considering that the edge rolls under and isn’t all that visible.

  • One of the awesome benefits of being a neighbor of KG and sometime babysitter of Miss Olive is receiving a gorgeous Honey Cowl especially to match my winter coat.

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  • I’ve never knit a Honey Cowl. Sad but true and weird since I’m a lover of all cowls. Thanks for the tips on how to avoid a few pitfalls.
    Also, want to say welcome back. Always enjoy your posts and looking forward to more.

  • i use a knitted cast on…for almost everything. it works great for this project, as Ann points out, the top and bottom get rolled up into the fray. viola!
    also, could you continue to use the term “baller”, in any description, of anything, ever? made my day!

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  • I just made 10 diff cowls for Christmas but not one honey cowl.. I’ll have to fix that!

  • “This is the baller approach.” I going to cast on for a Honey Cowl and use this as my mantra.

  • I learned a trick on some You Tube video for estimating yarn for the longtail cast on (although it could be tedious for 200+ stitches). I started by leaving a “normal” tail (at least 4″). Then, at that point, I begin to wrap the yarn around the needle. It is one wrap per desired stitch (if I have to cast on 30 stitches, it would be 30 wraps), giving me the generally desired length that I need to complete my cast on of, in this case, 30 stitches.

  • I am finding this VERY helpful. I haven’t tried one yet, I’m more partial to scarves than cowls personally, but I just want to be working on something, something that requires about 30% brain.

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  • Thank you, thank you for the tips! I am starting a sock head hat and will try both the long tail cast on and the knit flat for a few rows idea.

  • Two-tail cast-on? Brilliant!

  • If anybody’s a honey cowl expert, it’s gotta be you, Kay. I like to imagine all those cowls having a reunion and herding together in one great pile of tastefully rainbow-colored cushy cowlness. What a photo that would make!

    Speaking of photos, I hate to be a critic but some of your recent photos are coming out with a very strong blue cast from my end of the internet. I see it on all the photos in the giveaway post, but only the first and third photo in this post (the one with the ring of stitches and the two outdoor modeled cowl shots look normal). Assuming smurf is not the aesthetic you’re going for (unless it is! no judging! okay, a teensy bit of judging), thought you might like to know.

  • Thanks for the tips! And welcome back to blogging!!!

  • I have another method for figuring out the amount of yarn you need, but it’s almost as annoying/laborious as doing the math you describe: just wrap your yarn around the needle the same number of times as the number of stitches you need. Add an inch or two, then place your slip knot at that point. It rarely fails to be accurate.

  • If there is a twist, would that result in a moebius scarf, and not screw up the stitch pattern?

  • One suggestion for the two tail problem – you don’t HAVE to commit to those 2 extra ends up front. You can blithely cast off with the usual single-strand longtail method, confident in the knowledge that you’re ready to join in another strand if you run out. How’s that? Only give yourself extra ends to weave in IF you run out of yarn. It does mean those extra ends would be in the middle of the cast on instead of at the 2 ends, though I can’t think of why that might be a problem.

    I’ve also seen the suggestion to estimate the needed tail length by multiplying 3 by the width of the thing you’re casting off for. It’s a simple enough calculation, and it shouldn’t be affected by the gauge of the yarn. Presumably it probably works best for stockinette-ish things. I’d think it would underestimate the needed tail length in the case of something that pulls in sideways (like cables) and overestimate for something that expands sideways (like lace).

    Can’t say I’ve actually tried it myself, I’m definitely an eye-baller.

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  • Casting on for a Honey Cowl yet again!

  • Love the Honey Cowl!

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  • Two tails for the long tail cast-on does keep you from going crazy when you have a lot of stitches.

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  • glad to know I’m not the only one still making Honey Cowls!

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  • So glad you two are back! Signing up now.

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  • Glad you are back! Looking forward to catching up on all the new posts.

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  • Signing up for newsletter!

  • Love your wit and knowledge so willingly shared. Please continue!