The Perfect Ribber Cast On

Over the years, there have been several books about double bed knitting and using a ribber. So I am not planning to re-write any of those! What I would like to do is share some of the ways that I use my second bed of needles to enhance the kind of work that I do and for some general purposes. Where possible, I plan to include video similar to the one included in this blog post.

As I said in earlier posts (5/16/16 for 1×1 rib and 6/14/16 for 2×2), I often start my projects on waste and go back later to knit the ribs, binding off with the hand sewn bind off. I do also, however, begin some projects with rib and when I do, this is the cast on method I always employ.

With the exception of Passap (and then, not always) double bed machines require the use of a cast on comb and weights for double bed work. The comb often distorts/stretches the edge of the cast on and can sometimes cause torn or irregular stitches when working with delicate yarns. Except for samples and gauge swatches, I never-ever-ever cast on with the main yarn. I always begin with waste yarn.

I knit the zigzag row with waste yarn, hang the comb and then knit 8-10 rows, using the stitch size I might use for knitting the actual rib for all of these rows. There is no need to start with smaller sizes or to finely tweak this rib because it will be removed later – make it easy on yourself. This waste rib will be the point of attachment for the comb, thus saving your main yarn from any stress or stretch or breaking.

After the waste, I work two circular rows with ravel cord. Years ago I purchased a couple of cones of nylon at a tag sale so I can be pretty free with how I use it. If you rely on the short pieces that came with your machine, you probably don’t want to tie knots in it. Instead, let it hang between the beds and weight it with a binder clip or clothespin. You can also use some strong crochet cotton for these two separating rows. Look for good contrast and a no-fuss fiber to assure easy removal and no tell- tale traces of colored fuzz.

After the circular rows, set both of the carriages to the smallest stitch size and knit 1 row across all needles. This is the zigzag row where you would normally hang the cast on comb – except that you don’t have to hang it because it is already in place! Now, raise the stitch size by 1 number (on my ribbers it is from “R” to “0”) to work the two circular rows. I know, I know – the manual says to do 3 circular rows and if you like the way that looks, go ahead and do three. I don’t like the look of a 3-row edge so I always do 2. OK, so why do the manuals (Japanese machines) say 3? They are hoping the extra row evens out the differences in stitch size between the two beds (see my last blog post about the set of the beds). Try it both ways to see which you prefer.

After the 2 (or 3) circular rows, raise the stitch size by one dot and set both carriages to knit in both directions. This first zigzag, cross-bed row may be tight so do yourself a favor and bring all the needles to holding position and set the carriages to knit them back. Continue raising the stitch size by just one dot every row until you reach the stitch size you want to use for the remainder of the rib and then continue kitting until you complete the required number of rows.

Why raise the stitch size so slowly? It contributes to a firmer edge that is more likely to hold its shape than one that immediately jumps to a larger stitch size. Control is the name of the game here!

This video shows 1×1 rib, but you can use the same method for 2×2 ribs as well. For wide ribs, I generally cast on as if to knit 1×1 rib and after I have knitted 1 or 2 rows across both beds with the main yarn, I transfer stitches for the wide rib arrangement and continue from there, raising the stitch size 1 dot each row. The 1×1 cast on edge adds stability to the wide ribs and looks pretty terrific too! Give it a try. In fact, I would suggest that you spend some time knitting a variety of ribs with this method so you get a good idea how it works and what you might want to tweak for your own machine or taste.

Next time, I’ll show you a couple of ways to transfer stitches between the beds!

8 thoughts on “The Perfect Ribber Cast On”

  1. Thank you so much Susan for another great video ! Looking forward for your tips about transferring stitches between the beds.

  2. Hi Susan, I have watched your video and read the instructions which are amazingly clear, but I am still having trouble getting it right. The point I fail at is the row immediately after the ravel cord circular rows which I assume are in the same tension as the waste yarn rows.

    Your paragraph reads “After the circular rows, set both of the carriages to the smallest stitch size and knit 1 row across all needles. This is the zigzag row where you would normally hang the cast on comb”

    My question is… Are these the Ravel cord circular rows or do I knit a couple of circular rows in the main yarn BEFORE I set both of the carriages to the smallest stitch size.

    I’m sorry, I’m probably over thinking it.
    Many thanks

    1. Immediately after the two circular rows with ravel cord you knit 1 zig zag row followed. Y two circular rows with the main yarn.

    2. Immediately after the 2 circular rows with ravel cord you knit 1 zigzag row with the. Sin yarn, followed by two circular rows and the rest of your rib.

  3. Your puppy is adorable and am glad he is filling a hole in your heart left by loss- I can empathize with the hole and how a pup can move right in and help fill it without taking away the place of the former companion.
    On another note…
    These videos with the transcribed narrative are SO very helpful for me as I grasp a new to me skill set(machine knitting). I am finding retention more difficult with aging😂, so being able to frequently review until a sticky spot on my brain is found is so helpful!!
    I also have purchased your books and Craftsy classes, and refer as often as needed as I work through a project. At this point, I am using your handknitting to machine knitting reference book most as a means of translation of hand knitting patterns I already have.
    Thank you thank you thank you for recording machine knitting techniques for posterity! It was so big in the 80’s but those with the knowledge and mastery are scarcer than hen’s teeth! Now if we can just get Stitches West etc to start holding classes👍🏻👍🏻

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