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Learn Something New: The Moebius Cast-On

Jun 21, 2013

    
The Roam Cowl by Jennifer Dassau
Many of my friends have kids graduating from high school this year, so there are lots of family pictures flowing down my news feed on Facebook. One thing I've noticed, besides the beautiful smiles on proud parents and excited kids, is that many of the gals are wearing infinity scarves. They're so fashionable and easy to wear, and they enhance just about any outfit—from summer suits to jeans and a tee.

I thought I'd browse the Knitting Daily Shop to see what sort of infinity scarf knitting patterns we have to offer, and I came upon quite a few. The one that really appealed to me was the Roam Cowl by Jennifer Dassau. It's really an infinity scarf that you can either wear hanging in a long loop or wrapped around your neck as a cowl; it's equally stunning worn either way.

The thing that set the Roam Cowl apart for me is it's beautiful drape. This is achieved with a combination of the moebius design, a merino-cashmere blend  sock yarn knit on size US 6 needles, and an openwork stripe pattern. Another knitting trifecta!

Moebius knitting was popularized by the amazing Cat Bordhi in her books A Treasury of Magical Knitting and A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting. It's a wonderful technique and also very addicting! You'll love it.

I think the most difficult part of moebius knitting is getting started. After you get your yarn cast-on correctly and knit the first couple of rounds, it's smooth sailing. Here's how to do the moebius cast-on:

The Moebius Cast-On by Cat Bordhi

A Moebius requires a long circular needle; do not attempt it with one shorter than recommended. A 40" length is ideal for hats and a 47" length is better for greater circumferences.

Home Position

    
1. Make a slip knot and slide it to the middle of the cable.

2. Pick up left needle with right hand and coil it around to form a ring, with the needle pointing up toward the left (you can ignore the right needle).

3. Create a pivot point: with right hand, pinch needle, slip knot, and cable so they can pivot from this one point (yellow star).

4. With left hand, tension yarn and pinch cable (orange star) about 4" away from pivot point. Use left index finger to hold yarn up high (green star). The three stars form a triangle of dotted lines: the cable is the base, the yarn is the right side, and your left hand is the left side.

Start the Moebius Cast-On (MCO)
1. The needle points at you, dives under the cable, stands up in the middle of the triangle, presses down on the yarn and swings back under the cable to you, bringing along the yarn (the first stitch). The needle swings from home position and back to home position like a child on a swing.

2. Next, the needle swoops up over the yarn (the second stitch, which is just like a yarn-over) and is once again in home position.

3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until you have the desired number of stitches. Count only the stitches on the needle. Each repeat of Steps 1 and 2 creates two stitches on the needle, which are counted, as well as two stitches on the cable, which are not counted. Do not count the slip knot (it is not on the needle) or those on the cable.

    
Get Ready to Start Knitting
1. Hold needles crossed together as if about to start knitting, and tug at the cable rings to make them the same size.

2. Spread cast-on stitches until beginning and end are very close.

3. Check for one crossing of needle and cable by going for a "train ride" from the left needle around to the right needle, pressing cables into parallel tracks, pushing twist ahead to determine that there is only one crossing at the end.

4. Place a marker on right needle. Do not skip the marker!

Knit the first ring. The slip knot, which was on the cable, is now first in line on the left needle. Knit into it and take it off the left needle. Each remaining stitch on the left needle resembles a triangle, with the cable as its base. To knit a triangle, insert the right needle into the front (where the star is), pull a loop of yarn through as usual, then remove the triangle from the left needle. Repeat until all triangles have been knitted and the marker appears beneath the needles on the cable. You have completed the first of two rings.

The MCO looks like this: All stitches on the needle wrap in same direction. Stitches on cable alternate direction of wrap. Pivot point: Right hand pinches needle, slip knot, and cable.

Remember: Two rings of knitting = 1 Moebius round.

    
The triangles are now gone, and the stitches on the left needle look more familiar; in fact, they look like they were purled. Continue knitting. If the first stitch appears odd, pull the tail down towards yourself and the stitch will then behave. When the marker appears between the needles (not beneath, as before), this signals the completion of one full round (two rings). Only when the marker appears between the needles (where it could fall off) is a round complete.

When the marker appears on the cable below the needles, only the first of the two rings that make up a round is done. As you keep knitting, you'll discover that the fabric grows between the cables, pushing them apart.

—Cat Bordhi, from Knitscene Accessories 2012

Cat has a fabulous how-to video on You Tube that shows this technique, and she explains it beautifully in her books, too. You should check them out!

Download the Roam Cowl today and get started on your moebius knitting adventure. You'll have a ball!

Cheers,

P.S. Do you enjoy learning from videos? I do, and when I want to learn a new technique, I look to videos to teach me how. Our sister site, Craft Daily, is an amazing source of videos from Knitting Daily TV, our Knitting Daily Workshops, and all kinds of other videos that will interested you. I subscribe to it and I use it all the time. You can use your subscription to learn tips, tricks, and techniques for knitting, or branch out into art quilting, mixed-media art, jewelry making, weaving, beading, sewing, spinning, and so on through full-length videos on demand.

Now, you can get a free three-day Craft Daily trial with any purchase from our Sidewalk Sale between now and June 23! See below for details.


Featured Product

Roam Cowl

Availability: In Stock
Price: $5.50

eProject

Knit this reversible scarf.

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Comments

on Jun 27, 2013 10:11 PM

Just a comment: Moebius knitted scarf and Infinity scarf are similar in that they both have a twist in them. but the technique is entirely different. They completed work doesn't even look the same so thinking that twisting your needles before joining the round is the same is not the Moebius technique Cat Bordhi describes.

This is a little tricky untill you understand where you are up to in the row before it appears again for  the next row. You are actually knitting from the centre out on both sides.

ebbyjake wrote
on Jun 23, 2013 8:55 AM

Ferigem, it's even easier if you just knit in the other direction (meaning shorter rows and more of them) and then make one twist before grafting your final live stitches to your cast on edge.

ferigem16 wrote
on Jun 21, 2013 8:34 AM

I've watched the video and tried the cast on and found it difficult and very frustrating. I ended up doing the thing we are always warned about when knitting in the round on circular needles - I twisted the stitches. Voila - an infinity scarf without all the to-do.