It's time for our first proper tutorial! The first thing you need to learn is how to cast on. This means transferring your yarn onto the needles, ready to start knitting.
There's a whole bunch of different methods of casting on. This one is called the Thumb Cast-On, and it's the first method I was taught as a child. It gives quite a stretchy cast-on edge, which means it's great for things like beanie hats and wrist edges, where you need that extra "give" in the finished piece.
We've included a video and step-by-step instructions and pictures below! The video is less than a minute long so won't take much out of your day. :) It is sped up, I don't cast on as quickly as I do in the latter half of the video. (I wish I did!) Also, my nails are looking so shoddy, please don't let that put you off! The pandemic has done a bit of a number on my nail salon trips. Anyway, I'm rambling. Here's the video!
Step by step, here's what you need to do for a thumb method cast-on:
1. Find the end of your yarn, and pull out a long tail. You want a tail about three times as long as the width of your cast on edge. If you're not sure, pull out a longer tail than you think you'll need. You'll use any excess for sewing up your finished piece.
2. Make a slip knot in your wool by looping it around your thumb and pulling it through.
Insert your needle into the slip knot and pull it snug but not tight. It should look like the needle is wearing a little scarf.
A common mistake is to pull the yarn really tight when casting on, so it looks more like the needle is being strangled. This causes wonkiness and difficulty knitting the first row - it's much better to keep it a little loose than a little tight. If you're a tight caster-onner (that's definitely not a word, but you know what I mean), use a needle a size or two larger than required, to give you extra wiggle room (literally) on your first row. It won't make any visible difference to your finished piece.
3. Wrap the tail end of your yarn around your thumb again.
4. Insert the needle tip between the yarn and your thumb.
5. Wrap the working yarn (i.e. the length of yarn that is still attached to the ball) over the needle tip, anti-clockwise.
6. Slip your thumb out and pull the first loop of yarn (that you popped the needle into) over the top of the working yarn and needle tip.