Close up of red cast on stitches for lace

Bridget Rorem’s Lace Cast-Off and-On

The Anniversary Shawl design for Wool Gathering #99 necessitates an elastic cast-off.

If you have knitted lace shawls of various shapes, you have been confronted by the difficulty of finding either a cast-on, or a cast-off that is loose enough to match the considerable fluidity of loosly-knitted lace. Imagine beginning a circular or triangular lace shawl at the long edge. What would you do about the cast on? If you take a needle several sizes larger, that selvedge might look sloppy, and still not be elastic enough to stretch with the lace (depending, of course, on the lace motif itself). The same thing applies to casting-off a lace circle or triangle. In this case, many designs cause you to crochet units of stitches together, and join them with loops of chain stitch. Or, cast on additional stitches - perpendicular to the finished shawl - and knit a Sideways Border in garter-stitch or a lace motif, uniting the last border stitch to a raw shawl stitch.

Lace knitting and lace designing is the preeminent occupation of Bridget Rorem (along with this amazing full-sized, head-to-toe Clown Suit Bridget whipped up for this year’s Knitting Camp contest, including mini-clown cars that she pulled out of her costume to toss into the crowd- a lot of stocking stitch, even at 5 sts/inch - Incredible!)

knitted clown suit in blues, greens, with knitted tiny clown cars Bridget Rorem in her knitted clown suit of blues, greens, yellows, reds

And Bridget is a true lace designer, meaning she does not take lace patterns from here and there, and combine them in a given shawl (as I and many other lace “designers” do), but she invents the lace motif itself. And, because frequently she breaks new ground in this discipline, she often has to invent accompanying techniques in order to realize her ideas. Somewhere along the line, she came up with these extraordinarily elastic methods to cast-on and cast-off, and completely solve the difficulty described above.

I have titled them Bridget’s Lace Cast On - and Cast Off. They are described verbally in WG#99. But because knitters are a visual lot, Cully has taped me executing both techniques. Those who know me are aware of my time-and-motion penchant - so, after using Bridget's original directions for a few repeats, I came up with a way to eliminate turning the work each time. Knitter’s Choice.

We are fortunate to have been able to publish a few of Bridget Rorem’s extraordinary designs. You can find them here: Near Solstice Shawl SPP #7, Lace Alphabet Shawl, SPP #9, If I Could FlySPP #25, Dragonflies & Thistles, SPP #48.

Good knitting,