I finished the tubular cast-off around the hem and cuffs of this cardigan (Flaum) yesterday.
I’ve never done a tubular cast-off before, and the instructions in the pattern seemed complicated. Not only that, they didn’t make sense because the two set-up rounds were supposedly the same for the worked-flat hem as for the in-the-round sleeves, and clearly that wasn’t going to work. So I looked online, as you do, and found not only that I was right about the set-up, but there’s a much easier way to work the sewn part of the cast-off. As is so often the case, Ysolda Teague explains it clearly.
A tubular cast-off is an exact match for a tubular cast-on, and both are perfectly integrated into the 1×1 or 2×2 ribbing that they start or end. Ysolda points out that the two set-up rows or rounds create stocking stitch, and this is apparent once the stitches are divided between two needles (knit stitches on the front needle, purl stitches on the back one). If the two needles are held slightly apart, the fabric between them does indeed look like reverse stocking stitch. Anyone who has knitted a top-down sock with a grafted toe (me! me!) will immediately feel that they are in familiar territory at this point, because all that is required to finish the job is a Kitchener graft to join the stitches to each other. (I’ve posted on this technique before, with a verse that makes it easy to remember the process.)
The only issue with working a Kitchener graft with over a hundred stitches on each knitting needle is that you need a very long length of yarn threaded through your darning needle, and it takes a lot of time to start with to pull the yarn through each pair of stitches and stop it tangling. But at least it gets quicker and easier as the yarn tail reduces.
Since discovering the tubular cast-on I’ve used it a lot because it looks great and produces an edge that stretches as much as the ribbing. After this, my first experience with its matching cast-off, I can see that I’ll be using it just as much when knitting anything that ends with ribbing.
The finished edges look impressively neat.
In the end I didn’t need to use contrast yarn for the tips of the cuffs and hem. I ended up with 20g of my 508g cone of blue Shetland yarn left, and I used 12g of contrast colour for the pocket linings. Today my Flaum has been blocking in the sunshine – the first al fresco blocking of 2019 – and it’ll be interesting to see when it’s dry how much its starting weight of 500g has dropped.
It took two gentle hand washes to get rid of the lanolin, and I know from knitting this and similar spun-in-the-grease Shetlands in the past that it will be much fluffier and loftier after its wash. The colour has certainly brightened.