I’m not terribly adventurous when trying different cast on methods. I use the double or long tail cast on most often, and the cable cast on when I need to add stitches within the body of a piece.
Tubular cast ons are common in machine knitting, and not used often in hand knitting. A tubular cast on produces an attractive, elastic, and stable edge for a knit one, purl one rib (k1, p1). The cast on edge is rounded like a tube (hence “tubular”), and has the appearance of a double fabric. I like using the tubular cast on for a dress or skirt made with a fine or light weight yarn. The tubular cast on method is not recommended for bulky yarns, as the edge may flare.
There are several versions of a tubular cast on. The following two versions are the most basic of the tubular methods for k1, p1 rib, and both look similar.
- With a contrasting waste yarn, cast on half the required number of stitches (plus one extra stitch) using a single cast on. The single cast on is simple but not the neatest method. However, it’s perfect to use with the tubular method. How to make a single cast on: 1. place a slip knot on right needle, leaving a short tail; 2. wrap yarn from ball around left thumb or index finger from front to back and secure it in your palm with your other fingers; 3. insert needle through this strand on your thumb, slipping the loop onto the needle, and pulling the yarn to tighten it; repeat steps 2 and 3 until all stitches are cast on.
- Cut contrast yarn. With the main color yarn at the back of work, k1, *with yarn in front, k1; repeat from * to end of row.
- *k1, yarn front, slip next stitch purlwise, yarn back, repeat from *; end k1.
- yarn front, *slip 1, yarn back, k1, yarn front, repeat from * to last stitch, slip last stitch.
- Work last 2 rows once more. Begin working in k1, p1 rib. Work a few rows in rib, then remove waste yarn.
Version 2: (folded method)
This version produces a similar look to Version 1. However, I find the edge to look more even and not as loose as Version 1.
- With contrasting yarn, cast on one half the number of stitches required using the single cast on described above. Cut yarn.
- With main color, purl 1 row, knit 1 row. Repeat these 2 rows once more.
- *p 1, insert the tip of the left needle into the first main color loop – the loop sitting between the first 2 contrasting loops. Slip this loop onto left needle and with yarn back, knit it through back loop. Repeat from * to last stitch.
- Purl last stitch, pick up the 1/2 loop of the main color at the very edge, and knit it through the back loop.
- Remove the waste yarn.
Give the tubular cast on a try, and I think you will like the end result.