A Different Kind of Email

Sidenote to Beth: I just finished Bottle #3, I cannot thank you enough and if I could have another kid I’d name her Schlafly (for the beer!)

I received a question today that is something that I address in classes, so I figured I’d write it out in the blog in case anyone else could use this info. I was knitting for 15 years before I figured it out – with the help of Marjorie Winter!


Hi Annie,

I’m a beginner, taught myself with the guides. I’m wondering why when I cast on my first knittable row is purl. I’m starting my first sweater and it instructs to start on the right side. I am right handed and do the one hand cast on, it’s coming out on the purl side. What am I doing wrong?

Thank you, L.


Hey L –

I’m assuming you’re using some type of 2-strand cast on (long tail, etc.) where you have 2 separate strands involved in the casting on process.

When you cast on with 2 strands, one strand is casting on (usually the tail) and one strand is actually knitting the first row.

Note: Reminded by my friend, Helen, here are just two of the MANY ways that one can crack this nut! Who knew casting on was an esoteric thesis waiting to be written? Thanks, Helen!

There are 2 ways to deal with this:


In this case, if you want to work your first row (not the row that’s part of the cast on process) as a wrong side row, you need to address it (by purling it if you’re working in St. st, for example).

I tell my students that, for instance, if they’re working a 4-row stitch repeat, they would work this first wrong side row as Row #4 of the repeat. Row #4 (or whatever the last row is of their repeating stitch pattern) will be a wrong side row, thus when you get back to the Right Side you’ll be ready to work Row #1 of the stitch pattern.


To do this you’ll have to experiment with your cast on style. Watch what you do, very slowly, and see exactly HOW you’re forming that knit stitch that is becoming a row of your work. Now, experiment with different ways of working that portion of the cast on so that you’re approaching the stitch from the opposite direction, and creating a purl.

Remember, the technical definition of a knit is that the needle is pointing away from you, and with a purl the needle is pointing toward you. So see if you can work the cast on so that for the ‘creating a stitch’ portion of the cast on the needle is pointing toward you.

I’m sorry if this last way to deal with the wrong side first row issue is confusing – unless I actually see how you’re casting on I can’t make it clearer, but I’m hoping that by understanding the concept of what’s going on and experimenting you might be able to work it out yourself.

Having said all of that, I HIGHLY recommend using #1 to deal with the RS/WS first row issue!

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