My knitting has been pretty low-key over the past 12 months. I knit a couple of fantastic, but simple, garter stitch afghans, more than a handful of stockinette raglan sweaters, and numerous ribbed cowls.
It was in contemplating knitting a simple 1 x 1 rib noro stripe cowl that the notion of revisiting the tubular cast-on/cast-off techniques went from the slow paced "some day" column on my to do list to the now! now! now! column.
noro kureyon colorways 287 and 226
Inspired by the ubiquitous Brooklyn Tweed Noro Scarf.
My first, and I think last, completed attempt at using the tubular method was way back in January 2008, with my toe-up seal rock socks (ravelry link). I knit one 2 x 2 rib cuff and was pretty impressed with how it looked, but a lot less impressed with the effort it took. I frogged it so that I didn't have to knit the second sock to match. Laziness. I haz it.
As far as technique, I am pretty sure I used either Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook or Katherine Buss's Big Book of Knitting, as these are the only two reference books I had at the time. The issue for me then, as it is now, is that both of the book sources include foundation rows in their instructions. The foundation rows have you knit/purl one stitch and then slip the next stitch. You do this for at least two rows. (I'm going solely on memory here, so bear with me if I'm wrong.) I could never really wrap my head around these foundation rows. If I don't understand where instructions are going, my mind refuses to process them. My mind shuts down as a psychological defense.
Not understanding things makes me uncomfortable, you might even say afraid. It is a trigger for me. The trigger of trust. I don't have the emotional capacity to trust in things I do not know for a fact to be trustworthy. Although I love books, and the written word, I don't trust either of them. That's probably why I reread the same books over and over again rather than read new-to-me books. The cray cray? I haz it.
When a fierce desire to do something intersects with operating directions that don't make sense, I become frustrated. As I don't counter being frustrated with my knitting, I move on. Am I a little down? Absolutely. But I am never ever out for the count. If something really intrigues me, I know I will try again. I trust that I will eventually succeed no matter how many times I fail. Tenacity? I haz it.
Five years pass and my fascination with Noro Kureyon and ribbed cowls ripen, refreshing the itch to conquer the tubular technique. At this point in time the web has what I need; I find Ysolda Teague's tubular technique page. I instantly fall in love with the long tail tubular cast on. And I really mean love. Within about 30 days I had used the technique in three Noro striped cowls and two top-down knit raglan sweater neck edges:
I absolutely adore this edge. It's perfectly rounded. There is no wrong or right side, each side is identical; it's magic. Let me say that once more, with sparkles...
Yes, that just about captures my feeling of glee with this cast on method. Aside from the aesthetic benefits, another reason to love the long tail 1 x 1 tubular cast on is it's complete lack of foundation rows. That makes my inner rebel happy. (Take that you misunderstood foundation row.) Also? It's really easy to do if you are already proficient with the basic long tail cast on method.
The one drawback I find is the attention I need to pay when joining in the round. The cast on makes a very loose first row and my eye is not yet trained to spot the stitch symmetry as easily as I can with the basic long tail cast on. I've taken to placing a stitch marker on the right side of the work every 20 stitches or so to make it easier to identify which the right side is.