Margaret Passes It On

When I teach, I get asked a lot of questions that aren’t directly related to the subject I happen to be teaching at the moment. I get to do a lot of “thinking on my feet” and I don’t always have an answer. Then I give suggestions for finding the answer. If I can, though, I will share any information I have to answer the question. Since I get similar questions asked at different venues, I decided to put the questions and answers here so they can help out those who might have been wondering the same things. Feel free to pass this information on to others. So here’s the question and answer of the day:

Does my cast on count as my first row?

The answer: it depends (that’s usually the answer to fiber arts questions).

The answer in detail: (a) Look at your pattern. (WHAT!!!! You haven’t read through your pattern before you started knitting? Shame on you!) If you are told to cast on a certain number of stitches and the pattern instructions (after joining for circular knitting if you are doing that) begin with “Row/Round 1”, then your cast on does not count as your first row.

(b) If you get instructions that tell you to cast on and then work so many rows/inches of ribbing, then you can decide for yourself if your cast on counts for one of those rows. Margaret’s Rule for Ribbing: no matter how many rows, rounds, or inches of ribbing the pattern calls for, I am only going to knit ribbing until I can’t stand it anymore – this usually means LESS than the pattern calls for. I mean, who is going to knit three inches of ribbing if they don’t have to? Not me, that’s for sure.

(c) The pattern – and I have seen this only twice in all the thousands of knitting patterns I have seen in my lifetime – may tell you that your cast on equals your first row. If that is the case, they will spell it out very explicitly and the instructions will begin “Row/Round 2”. This could happen for any number of reasons, all of them in the hands of the designer of the pattern. [If you are a designer, please do not take this as permission to start a new “No More Row 1” craze.]

So there you have it. Pass on this information to those who ask and share the wealth of knowledge in knitting.



  1. Charlene said,

    March 11, 2008 at 9:35 am

    When I am working on garter stitch that requires a certain number of rows, I count the cast on as Row 1. I learned this from Horst Schulz. The key is to be consistent.

    If knitting a ribbing that talks about knitting a number or rows or rounds I do not count the ribbing as #1.

    Good for you to talk about some of these little things that can be problemsome.

  2. keren said,

    March 15, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Thanks for this post, Margaret. It is nice to know an expert who can remind us of these details from time to time.
    Hope you can jon us at knitting group again soon! We miss you!!

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