Casting on!

Note from Sandi: Welcome to my new little corner of Knitting Daily! Each week, I'll be sharing stories of my knitting adventures, as well as some tips and tricks I've learned along the way. Thanks for coming by–now, let's get started!

I love beginning a new project.
First, there's that prickle of delight in your knitter's fingers when you realize that the world Needs Another Knitted Thing, and that you are just the person to knit that Thing. You know you must prepare carefully: You must choose just the right pattern, pick exactly the right color, and oh, yes……you must go yarn shopping.

Of course, we all have stashes. It is good and virtuous to knit from one's stash. I encourage every knitter to go stash diving when contemplating a new knitting project. Go ye, therefore, and search your stash for a worthy yarn for this wondrous new knitting project. (But… I'm headed to the yarn shop tomorrow–wanna come along? Hee.)

I have a new baby niece, Delaney. She lives in Alabama where woolly things are not as fully appreciated as they are up here in Canada. (Woolly things are appreciated In Principle in the South, for their craftsmanship and beauty, but the appreciation is paid from a respectful distance.) Nonetheless: She is the niece of a knitter, and thus, she must have something knitted to welcome her into the family. After much thought, I decided on a lace blanket–but a simple blanket, something that might actually get finished before she needs to decorate her college dorm room.

I chose Star Light, Star Bright, which originally appeared in the Winter 1999 issue of Interweave Knits, but is now a free pattern here on Knitting Daily. I love the star motifs and I've secretly wanted to knit this for a long time, so I am really tickled that Baby Delaney is giving me a grand excuse to do so.

I then consulted the stash, only to find that I had nothing light enough (nor washable enough!) for an Alabama baby's blankie. So, guilt-free, I dropped by my local yarn shop and ordered nine balls of Dale Baby Ull in white. (The pattern calls for eight balls of this yarn; I always buy an extra ball for swatching or Just In Case Emergencies.)

Two days later at my local knit night, I had the yarn, I had the needles, I had the pattern, and I was desperate to cast-on.

Let me assure you that casting on in a room full of folks knitting pretty yarn and eating yummy treats and telling funny tales is a Big Mistake. "It's only 181 stitches," I told myself. (Feeling that you must tell yourself anything with the word "only" in it is the First Bad Sign.) I cast on over and over again, placing markers every ten stitches, counting, re-counting…and then, confident that I had the right number, I started the garter stitch border…only to discover around Row 2 that I was missing 3 stitches.

I looked up, a scream of frustration forming in my throat, to find a friend watching me carefully. Before I could even squeak, she told me, "Sandi, if you rip that out one more time I shall have to stab you with my dpns." (Pause for thought: She knits with metal dpns. That would mean blood on my nice white blankie yarn. Hm.) "But I'm off by 3 stitches!" I wail. "So?" she replied. "Increase 3 stitches evenly across the row and get on with it! It's a baby blanket! It will have an edging! It will have baby barf on it someday! NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW."

She was right, of course. I increased one stitch at each end and one in the middle, and just kept on going. It's only the second row, so once I sew on the edging, no one will be able to tell.

I'm now several inches in, past the first row of stars, and I love this blankie.

Next week: I'll have a little cast-on trick for you. When someone showed it to me, it rocked my stars; here's hoping it rocks yours too.

Knit for joy!
— Sandi

P.S. Let me know what you think! You can leave a comment below or even email me at

Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Blogs, Cast on, Sandi's Needles

38 thoughts on “Casting on!

  1. Sandi, Sandi,
    You must stop inspiring me! First the Leaf and Nupp shawl ( I got knitted Lace of Estonia for Christmas) and now this! I will be knitting it for a dear co-worker who is due in Dec.

  2. Sandi, Cheers to celebrating your new adventure on Canada Day… now you must have some time for that book project (wink, wink) and designing again! LOL.

  3. Your knitting buddy was right because in a sea of stitches, no one is going to notice 3 little ones added on. In fact, folks who don’t know can barely detect our cleverly disguised cover ups!

    You’re doing a wonderful job.

    I love the pattern, but I think I’d like it better in a semi-solid or tone on tone.

  4. I am so glad you have a blog now. Can’t wait to read it each week. What a lovely pattern! It’s definitely going on the mental “to knit” list. Lovely!

  5. Yay! Having just heard you speak at Knitter’s Connection in Columbus and gaining an appreciation for your humor as well as your knowledge, I am so looking forward to this blog…. keep “feeding” us.

  6. My oldest daughter has 3 friends expecting babies in next few months , so I decided to knit the baby cable raglan sweater in different colors from the same collection, I used “babyboo” yarn, the first in periwinkle, turned out so cute!!! I too want to knit the blankie above but is there a trick on how long of a length of yarn needed when casting on so many sts?

  7. Sandi – I am so glad you have your own space here on KD. I was missing your personality, but now we can all enjoy pure Sandi on a regular basis.


  8. Your blanket is going to be beautiful, can’t wait to see it. Hope your move from being editor is going well and I will be checking into your blog because I was one of those who enjoyed reading “What’s on Sandi’s Needles” . Have a good week.

  9. Happy you branched out. I always enjoy reading whatever you write and am looking forward to tuning in to your blog daily, or is that weekly..hmmm hint hint -smiles-

  10. sandy, your blanket looks lovely but the gauge seems scary-small. as a knitter, i never seem to get any faster and thus this project really would take me a couple of decades. how have you approached this problem?

  11. I also love the beginning part of a pattern.. especially the anticipation to casting on, the yarn, the needles, reading the pattern..

    can’t wait to see your niece’s blanket complete.

  12. Love the stars, I will give it a try to add to my baby gift stash. Whenever I find a great pattern I make it and always have gifts on hand for those special occasions, babies, birthdays, (socks, mittens, hats) and of course Christmas. I’m always looking for something a bit different.

  13. Oh, Sandi,I love how you said this was a simple project! For YOU, maybe, but not for all. I’ve been knitting steadily for over 3 years now, and I’m just getting into socks, and anything with a pattern like that where you have to do a lot of counting and paying attention just blows my mind. I guess that’s the ADD in me. My first sock – I used a small yarn and a simple 2 row slip stitch pattern, and I ripped that thing back so many times I can’t tell you! But it was valuable learning experience in what NOT to do. :o) My point is that you amaze me when you say things like…I knitted up a pair of socks over the weekend. and when you knitted that estonian lace shawl for your mom…that did it. you became my hero. yet you look so normal. hmmmm, your fan,

  14. Hello Sandi,

    It’s wonderful to read about your knitting adventures again!
    What I can see from your blanket looks wonderful. I’m secretly thinking about making one myself, I’m expecting my second child in January.

    By the way, your cast on adventure sounds so much like what I always experience when starting a new project at knit night. And I just thought I’d be the only one not able to count right.

    Looking forward to the next episode,

  15. I was disappointed when I opened KD for July 1 to discover you were leaving and then I was elated to realize that now you will be sharing more of your own experience, tips, etc. I am more than happy to join this ‘feed’. Thank you, Sandi, for all you share. I always read ‘What’s on my needles.”

  16. Dear Sandi,

    I have been following your daily update on “Knitting Daily” for quite some time now, and thoroughly enjoy your tips and sense of humour. So I am very glad that, even though you’re stepping down as editor, you’ll still be very much around. ( Maybe more so! ) As a Canadian, now living in New Zealand I followed your move to Canada with great interest. Sounds like you’re enjoying it. Anyway, again, glad that you’re still going to be here for us “knitting addicts”. Thanks Sandi.

    Cheers, Heather in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

  17. WandaO–about how much yarn to use to cast on:
    I read somewhere that you should measure out yarn that is 3 times the length of the finished product (or whatever piece you are casting on for). it works pretty well as a general way to estimate. 🙂

  18. Go Sandi! Glad you’re here with your blog since your writings and musings were for me the main reason to stay with KD … I was otherwise quite disappointed with the relentless commercialization of this website. But, you were the preciously fresh part of it … and here you are with your blog! Me happy!

  19. Love the blankie! I’m expecting two grandbabies in January. And shame on you for suggesting we shop on etsy for handspun. I had only shopped for beads on etsy before — now I want yarn too!

  20. I second the comment made earlier about subscribing to KD despite the rampant commercialization just to read your humorous postings. Thank you for continuing your presence with the blog. You do more than you can ever guess to keep me inspired and creative!

  21. Ditto everyone else about being happy to see you with your own blog. I didn’t mind the commerical aspect of KD – after all, it was an Interweave publication and I’d expect they need to cover costs and promote the magazine (plus I hear from designers that Interweave treats them pretty well), but your charm was a big draw.

    It was a delight to meet you in Toronto at Lettuce Knit, especially as I wasn’t expecting it. You were so gracious at my bumbling. Thanks!

  22. I missed several weeks of Knitting Daily as I was camping with my son’s boy scout troop – not much opportunity to knit either – I cast on a sock and managed two rounds by the campfire! Anyway, it meant that I missed the news of your move and had to search back through the blogs to pinpoint when you’d moved! Thanks for telling us about the star light, star bright baby blanket – and it’s free too! Downloaded it immediately as a friend just announced that she’s to be a grandma again – she doesn’t knit so this would be a perfect gift for the new baby.

  23. Well, when you were no longer sending e mails to my inbox, I was alarmed to think I wouldn’t get to read you any more. Sometimes I think you are channelling my thoughts & feelings (only much more entertaining.) So I am happy to reading you here…..

    The blanket is super cute & I know what you mean about southern life & wool. Luckily in NC we can still wear wool in the winter some.

    Good luck in this new endeavor… and lucky us!

  24. Six years later I’m trying to find that pattern for the Star Light Star Bright baby blanket — the link the article no longer works (404 “page not found”) and my search has revealed dozens of articles that have nothing to do with the blanket — and one other post by you telling of your mistake in the 2nd row of stars. . . . If you read this could you let me know how to find the pattern. It’s GORGEOUS! Thanks, Jo