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You may call me square, 

But I do not care.

My heart goes all pitter patter

To find fellow knitters who know that it matters

That how we start and that how we end

Can make all the difference

So let’s not pretend

That a rounded edge or a dip at the start

Is not a knitter’s version 

Of a stab to the heart

So let’s solve this mess, and find a great fix

And I’ll stop with the rhyming

And get on with the tricks

I’ll admit it, I love a clean, sharp edge to my knitting. I thought it was just me. I thought I was the only one who railed against the rounded edge of a cable cast-on, or despised the dreaded dip at the start of a bind-off. But of COURSE, the keen-eyed readers of MDK also want something better. (Psst, in case you’re wondering, yes, both of these fixes are in my new book.)

Cleaner Cast-on

Dear Patty,

I have a weird problem that might just be me. I really prefer the cable cast-on to long tail, and for most seamed things it looks basically fine, but the first stitch kind of rides up. It’s like the corner is round instead of a nice square. I can usually make this invisible in a seamed garment by using the tail to kind of “fill in” the gap, but I hate how it looks on a scarf. Am I nuts that this bothers me? Does this happen to anyone else? Do you know what the heck I’m talking about?

Just want the right side to look like the left side. Is that too much to ask?

Wanting a sharp corner,


Dear Sandra,

I can’t even tell you how very much it is NOT just you. I love the look of the cable cast-on. The rope-like end is lovely. What’s less lovely is that weird rounded edge you get from that overlapping last stitch.

Of course it’s a bummer in a scarf, but it’s also no picnic when you try to seam two sweater pieces together.

Before the fix (say it with me) we need to start with the why.

In the cable cast-on, the new loop you pull through acts as a base to the stitch that came before it and the new stitch. This is what gives the edge that rope-like look. 

The problem is, the last stitch has no base. It’s left hanging in the wind, a lonely stitch without a base to anchor it. Below you can see that the blue stitch is the base of the red stitch. The green stitch is the base of the blue stitch, but the green stitch has no base.

I’ve tried to fix this by casting on an extra stitch and then starting with a k2tog, but this trades one problem for another. The decrease is bulky, and I really dislike how it looks if the first stitch of your edge is a purl.

Here’s what I came up with to neaten that edge. Let’s give that lonely stitch a base!

Step 1. After you pull your last loop through onto the right needle, move the working yarn between the two needle tips, then to the back of the right needle, like a yarnover.

Step 2. Insert the tip of the left needle into the loop on the right needle and lift it up and over the yarnover, like a bind-off. You now have one stitch on your right needle.

Step 3. Finally, transfer that stitch knit-wise to the left needle.

Ta-da, that last lonely stitch is baseless no more. 

When you knit into your newly perfect cast-on, you get a lovely square edge.

Which would you rather have?

Dear Patty,

I love your Ask Patty column and I LOVED the tip about fixing the last stitch in your bind-off, but what about the first stitch? No matter what I do, no matter how loose I work it, my scarf bind-off dips down at the start. I just want a nice square edge, so I thought, “Hey, why not ask Patty?” It’s hip to be square!


Dear Jessica,

I think you’ve been reading this column long enough to know, it’s not you, it’s them. As usual, it’s the stitches’ fault.

The Dastardly Dip

A stitch is wider than it is tall. When we bind off, we are asking that stitch to lie down on its side and reach the center of the next stitch. That’s hard enough, but when it comes to the first stitch, you are also asking it to turn a corner! You can see right away what happens.

It can’t quite make it, so we get the dip. And your finished bind-off looks like this (insert sad trombone wah-wah here):

To get a nice square start to our bind-off, we can steal from crochet!

In crochet, to keep our edges square, we use a turning chain (one or more chain stitches that we make after we’ve turned our crocheted work) before we begin our next row. This brings the yarn to the height needed to work the next row.

A bind-off is basically a crochet chain, so we need to use that height from a turning chain.

Step 1. Knit one stitch and make a yarnover on your right needle.

Step 2. Insert the tip of the left needle into the first stitch and lift it over the yarnover.

That’s it, you have created a turning chain! 

From there, continue your bind-off. You’ll be able to see the difference right away.

And when you finish your bind-off your start will look as perfect as your end (if you read my old column here).

Amazing how the simple yarnover can cure so many ills.

So thank you kind readers of MDK

For asking great questions

Of me every day.

I trust that these fixes will improve the look

And hopefully inspire you

To go buy my book!



Patty in your pocket!

Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.

About The Author

Patty Lyons is a nationally recognized knitting teacher and technique expert. In her pursuit of training the mindful knitter, Patty is known for teaching the “why” in addition to the “how.” She specializes in sweater design and sharing her love of the much-maligned subjects of gauge and blocking.

You can find Patty at her website and on Ravelry.

Do you have a problem you’d like Patty to tackle? Write to her at



  • Thank you for answering a question I did not know I had.

  • So cool! Makes so much sense.

  • So clever! Thanks again Patty.

    • Thanks,Patti,great tips as usual!

  • Forehead slapping moment! Wow, so cool!

  • Bought the book from you already so I can garner your bag …. Thank you for the insights …. Looking forward to many more ah-ha moments with a cups in the corner ☺️

  • Brilliant as always Patty. I missed seeing you at the PEI Fibre Festival – FYI one more cancellation Hurricane Fiona was responsible for! I’ve signed up again so I can get the link. I won’t be able to watch at the time but I’ll be sure to check in later.

  • Brilliant as always!

  • And this article is a wonderful example of why you book will be a holiday gift for two of my knitter friends.

  • Brilliant

  • Oooh, I admit I love the rope-like look of the cable cast on and now I’ll adore it even more!

  • Wow! Thank you. I love the cable cast-on. It’s the one I was taught initially. So, these are great. Your book is on its way to me, pre-ordered.

  • That trick with the cable caston? – brilliant. Just brilliant..
    I think I need the book!

  • I pre-ordered Patty’s book the second she announced its pending release & I haven’t been this impatient to get something in my hot little hands in a long time.

  • What tricky tricks! Thank you.

  • Of course! Thank you, Jessica, for asking and Patty for the enlightenment!

  • Patty! You are SO SMART!!! Thank you!!!!

  • I can’t wait for it to be available on bookdepository! Thanks so much for these two amazing tips. I was taught the cable cast on when I first learnt to knit at 7 or 8 years old, and didn’t even know anything else existed till Ravelry got going. And, yes – my corners always annoyed me. Thank Patti! You’re a star.

    • The book has been on Book Depository since May. Here’s the main landing page. You are so welcome – Patty (with a Y )

  • You are a genius. That is all.

  • I am not a hyperbolic person. As I read this piece a thought came to mind that pops up when I am in the presence of extraordinary goodness, here it is…”Straight to Heaven, Patty Lyons”.

    • ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • You are a clever girl! Thank you for the helpful tips.

  • Thank you as that drove me mad till I did your trick and now it’s sorted Thank you again

  • I’ve been knitting since before I started school-nearly 70 years-and didn’t know about these techniques.Thank you.

  • Just wondering if you have a video to show this technique. I am struggling and videos seem to help me. Love the concept for my dishclothes! Thanks

  • Just love your,great,tips

  • Awesome explanations!

  • I am a relatively new knitter, as I used to knit as a child, but didn’t keep up with it until now in my silver years. This technique is the best problem solver I’ve ever seen and I’m so grateful to have found your site and easy to follow instructions. It always bothered me about the rounded edges at the top and the bottom of my work, and now your guidance has enlightened me to improve. Thank you for your instructions.

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