The start of a blog, the start of Spring (yeah, I'm being optimistic) seems like a good time to start a different kind of knitting project, one which I'll chronicle in this blog, among other topics. I've been knitting for more years than I care to remember, and while in that time I've learned a lot of techniques, I've also forgotten many, and I tend to rely on the same old ways of doing things without examining them. I'm going to go through a kind of renewal process to really examine each stage of the knitting process.
I've decided to start at the beginning, and to that end, I'll be working different cast-ons for a while. While I know there are multitudes of them out there, and have used different ones in the past, I tend to default back to the old reliable long-tail. But that's not always the best choice for every project. To remind myself of the properties of different versions in the future, I'm creating a notebook. As we know, knitting is tactile, and the qualities of a fabric (or its edge) can't always be discerned in a photo of an edge. So, I'll be working a (small) swatch of each cast on and attaching it on one side of the notebook, with notes about it on the facing page. in order to keep things easy for myself in the future, for comparison, I'll be using the same yarn (in my case, Caron Cakes, because I have some left over!) and the same size needle (US7 for me) unless a cast on requires something specific. If you decide to make your own, I'd suggest using a light colored and smooth yarn to make details easy to see, and in a medium weight- very fine yarn can be hard to see, and chunkier yarn might not fit in your notebook (I'm using a relatively small notebook for this).
On to the cast-ons! In the spirit of beginning at the beginning, my first cast on is probably the very first any of us learned- called variously the 'simple' cast on, the 'loop' cast on, or the 'e-wrap'. It's the one many of us use when we have to add stitches in the middle of the row and it's really just a backwards loop on the needle. It has some advantages- it's easy, you don't need to pre-measure how much yarn you'll need (as in the long tail), and as noted, you can easily add some stitches in the middle of a row. As for downsides, it gives a loose and 'floppy' edge. Of course, in certain situations, that can be a real advantage.