There are various ways to start a toe-up sock: Figure-8 cast-on, provisional cast-on, long-tail cast-on combined with grafting, etc. I used to use the figure-8 cast-on, but it leaves loose stitches that have to be tightened back in after a few rounds. Even with lots of practice, I usually had to make two or three tries at it. Although invisible from the outside of the toe, on the inside the figure-8 cast-on leaves a blank space between the purl bumps of the first round.
I thought that the world needed a better way, a more humane way to start toe-up socks, so I developed Judy's Magic Cast-On. It's an easy to learn, fast method that starts at the very end of the toe and works the first time, every time. It's completely invisible from both sides, and it can be used with almost any toe-up sock pattern.This ingenuity, trying to figure out an effective and attactive way to solve a practical problem, is one of the things that fascinates me about knitting. And like so many ingenious solutions, the Magic Cast-on has become very popular -- not just for toes-up socks, but for any place a knitter needs to use an invisible cast-on.
November Street (Duffy Stephens)
Becker bypassed the traditional publishing world, publishing Beyond Toes: Knitting Adventures With Judy's Magic Cast-On (Indigo Frog Press 2011) herself. Let's take a No-Bull look.
Eye of the Needle (Stephen Houghton)
- using the Magic Cast-on as a provisional cast-on so that one can knit in two directions from the same starting place
- a tubular version, giving a stretchier edge for ribbing
- a method of casting on a twisted I-cord
- how to add stitches using the Magic Cast-on
- and double-knitting using the Magic Cast-on (if done with two colors, you get an invisible start)
Patterns are next, and they are divided into seven chapters organized by the type of garment. First up are hats, including the stylish brimmed cap
Laurel Jane's Cap (Deb Barnhill)
a caddy's hat and the funky "Headbumps," with short rows used to create three-dimensional shapes.
Headbumps (Gayle Roehm)
Magic Cowl (Sivia Harding)
Monica's Seamen's Scarf (Myrna A.I. Stahman)
"Mittens" features an adorable bobsled-inspired pair and a second pair with cable details. "Socks" contains two pair, including these lovely ones by Janel Laidman.
Spring Fever Socks (Janel Laidman)
Djinn (Samantha Roshak)
Pippa (Deb Barnhill)
For my statisticians, you'll find the following patterns:
- 5 hats
- 4 scarves/cowls (including wristlets for one pattern)
- 2 pairs of mittens
- 2 pairs of socks
- a colorwork vest
- a shrug
- 2 shawls
- a poncho
- 3 bags (one is a laptop cover)
- 1 pillow cover pattern; and
- 1 stuffed toy pattern.
Mokosh (Cindy Abernethy)
Bobsled Mittens (Lorilee Beltman)
And thanks to the generosity of author Judy Becker, I've got a copy of "Beyond Toes" to give away to a lucky reader. Just leave a comment telling us whether you already use the Magic Cast-on or whether you'd like to learn it, and I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner. Judy will even sign the book for you. Leave your comment to this post (one per reader, please) by Saturday, November 19th at noon EST and I'll pick a winner later that day.