In Lesson 2, we learned how to start knitting on a flat-bed knitting machine using an e-wrap cast on. This type of cast on gives a very clean professional edge to the final work. When you use the technique described in the previous lesson, you have to be very careful at the beginning of your project to avoid any potential knitting flaws. The reason for such flaws is some difficulty affixing the weights to the e-wraps when you have so little fabric to work with. That is why, we had to pull out the needles into an E-position while keeping the stitches by the guard pegs. This arrangement makes it easier for the carriage to perform its task. It can get a little tedious though, especially if you have a large piece to work with.
In this lesson, we will learn how to avoid such precarious situation by anchoring your work to an existing piece of knitted fabric with the weights already attached to it. This anchor fabric will be made using a waste yarn. Your actual knitting will be attached to this helper fabric by a ravel cord. By doing this, we create a smooth transition from the temporary anchor fabric to your working yarn and make it easier for the carriage to do its job.
You can skip the detailed description and jump to the Blue Cat Summary for quick notes.
Making Temporary Anchor Fabric
We will use waste yarn to create an anchor piece. This fabric will be used to pull your actual knitting down and make it easier for the machine to perform its task.
Let’s start with the empty carriage is on the right of the working needles now. We will use an open cast on described in lesson 1 to make this piece of helper fabric. First, we will move the working needles to B-position.
Next, use the 1/1 needle pusher to move the alternating needles back to A-position.
The carriage is on the right side of the working needles. Now, we need to thread the waste yarn through the carriage and lock the yarn by moving the yarn feeder lever to the right.
Next, move the carriage from right to left to create the open cast on.
Before you move the carriage back to the right, you need to push the needles that were in position A back to position B.
At this point, we attach the cast-on comb to the loops while keeping the working yarn free.
Finally we can go to town and knit a few rows to produce the temporary piece of fabric. With the weights attached, this helper fabric works as an anchor for our future knitted creation.
Attaching Ravel Cord
Ravel cord is a thin, sleek, and durable nylon cable used to affix a permanent work to a temporary piece. I am using a substitute made of mercerized cotton.
First, you need to disconnect the working end of the waste yarn from the carriage and make sure that it hangs freely. You can attach the yarn to your claw weight to keep it from catching by the carriage. Next, thread the ravel cord through the yarn feeder of the carriage.
Move the carriage from right to left to knit one row with the ravel cord.
The empty carriage is on the left of the working needles now. You need to move the carriage to the right in preparation for the e-wrap. On my machine, I switch the cam lever to H (holding position) and move the needles into an E-position as shown in the photos below.
After the carriage is passed to the right, the cam lever needs to be switched back to N-position. I keep the needles in E-position making is easier to e-wrap the working yarn.
E-Wrap Cast On
With the carriage on the right, e-wrap your working yarn from left to right and feed the working yarn in the yarn feeder of the carriage. When you e-wrap the yarn onto the needles, your ravel cord is still on the needles as well. So, you have two layers of loops on your working needles.
Now, you can move the carriage from right to left to knit the first row of the actual work. Because the work is already attached to the anchor piece with tension applied to it by the cast-on comb and the weights, the passage by the carriage is very smooth and easy. You can continue knitting your work piece until it’s done.
The photo below shows the brown anchor piece with cast-on comb attached, and the actual work in blue yarn. The white ravel cord connecting the two is not seen very well, but it’s there.
For the purpose of this tutorial, I removed the work from the machine and bound it off by hand. I blocked the fabric to keep it from curling. You can easily see the anchor fabric on the bottom, the white ravel cord in the middle, and the actual work fabric in blue.
The ravel cord can be pulled or cut to free your work.
In the photo below, you can compare the cast off (top) done by hand with the e-wrap cast on (bottom). The manual cast off looks like a braid while the e-wrap cast on looks like a rope. Both look very nice.
Below is another view of the e-wrap cast on.
Blue Cat Summary: E-Wrap Cast On with an Anchor
Make Anchor Fabric with Open Cast On
1. With the carriage on the right, push the needles in B-position.
2. Move alternating needles to A-position using 1/1 needle pusher.
3. Thread the yarn feeder with waste yarn.
4. Move the carriage to the left.
5. Push the needles from position A to position B.
6. Attach cast-on comb to the loops. Add claw weights if necessary.
7. Knit a few rows to create anchor fabric.
Attaching Ravel Cord
8. Remove the waste yarn from the yarn feeder and replace it with ravel cord.
9. Knit one row.
E-Wrap Cast On
10. Make sure, the carriage is on the right.
11. Remove the ravel cord from the yarn feeder.
12. E-wrap working yarn from left to right.
At this point, both the ravel cord and the e-wrapped working yarn are on the needles.
13. Thread the working yarn through the yarn feeder.
14. Knit the work piece. The working fabric is attached to the anchor fabric by the ravel cord. The anchor fabric stabilizes the work.