Book Review: Cast On, Bind Off (54 Step-by-Step Methods), by Leslie Ann Bestor

My in-laws sent me books for my birthday too! Yay!  This one is especially awesome:

Cast On, Bind Off is small but packed with immediately-useful information.  In fact, it contains all the information I was hoping for when I first paged through The Principles of Knitting.  It contains an exhaustive yet succinct list of 33 cast-ons and 21 bind-offs.  Each method is clearly described in words and pictures. The spiral binding allows the book to lie flat while you copy the excellent photographs.  Best of all, the methods are grouped by purpose: cast-ons are basic, stretchy, decorative, circular, double-sided, multicolor, provisional, tubular, and mobius, while bind-offs are basic, stretchy, decorative, and sewn.  Each individual method has close-up photos of what the results look like, along with bulleted characteristics and “good for” tips.  Some of the trickier methods also have a highlighted “getting it right” section to help knitters avoid the most common mistakes.

The thing that makes this book better than Principles is the awareness of different names for the same method.  While Principles is frighteningly complete, one thing that bothered me was the re-naming of several techniques.  Now, I understand that the re-naming served to distinguish and clarify etc., but if you look for a “long tail cast on” that that book, you won’t find it by that name.  On the flip side, Cast On lists a variety of alternate names for each method, which will help readers find the cast on they’re looking for even if they don’t know it by the most common (or “best”) name.

One thing Cast On does assume is that the knitter works right-handed, and with Western stitch mount (leading leg in front of needle).  Lefties may be best served by viewing the pictures in a mirror, and I’m not sure what to do for the leading-leg-in-back folks.  (Though, they all seem exquisitely aware of stitch mount, and can likely compensate on their own.)

A few things I learned just browsing through the book:

  • the way you hold your left hand during long-tail cast on can be described as “slingshot” and everyone will hold their hand correctly, yay!
  • “my” way of doing the knitted cast-on is a common variation, with exactly the purpose I imagined
  • I don’t actually do Emily Ocker’s cast on for circular items … somewhere along the way, I changed to the “invisible” circular cast on
  • there are all sorts of cool two-color cast-on’s that I’ve never heard of before (I like tri-color braided cast-on best!)
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