Add another trick-of-the-trade to your Knitting Skills Arsenal with our tutorial on how to do the Channel Island Cast On! But first, a bit of history about this centuries-old cast on method…
Equal parts practical and decorative, the Channel Island Cast On is a time-tested cast on method made popular by the Guernsey, a fisherman’s sweater that originated on the island of the same name in the Channel Islands (not to be mistaken with the similar “jersey sweater” from the Channel Islands’ other island, Jersey). The Guernsey is a square-shaped sweater that was designed for the British fishermen of the 17th century who required a garment that provided extreme warmth, while being able to resist the vulnerabilities of the constant sea spray. The sweater is constructed with a tight gauge and thoughtful details that make it an icon of its time, and one that is still knit today.
Each stitch of these heirloom sweaters was knit with intent. Featuring a stitch pattern across the chest to represent details of their profession (like a rope or waves), a flexible neck, and gussets under the arms, it can be assumed that the Channel Island Cast On was used not only for its stretchy character, but also to add a decorative touch to the overall design.
This video offers a great walk-through and explanation of the sweater’s construction:
Though not as common today as it was in centuries past, the Channel Island Cast On continues to offer a unique look to knitted items in need of a stretchy edge, like a hat, mittens, or even socks. With a combination of yarn overs and double loop stitches, this cast on produces faux-picot baubles that can be a welcomed feminine alternative to traditional k2, p2 ribs. Plus, it’s a nice homage to the Guernsey sweater, which is such an iconic part of knitting’s history.
How To Do The Channel Island Cast On
The Channel Island Cast On is similar to the Long Tail Cast On method. However, there is a bit of “doubling” throughout the process, which the video above demonstrates.
While this cast on method takes a bit longer to do than most, it is a rewarding process that yields big results.