“Cast On, Bind Off,” by Leslie Ann Bestor (Storey Publishing, $16.95) is a little gem of a book — just 5 1/2 inches by 7 inches — that begs to be be tucked in a knitting bag and carried with you always. And for good reason. It walks you through cast-ons for every need. They’re grouped by All-Purpose, Ribbing (moderate stretch), Ribbing (a lot of stretch), End-of-Row, Super Stretchy (socks, hats, mittens, lace), Decorative, Temporary & Hems, Toe-Up Socks and Circular. Bind offs are split into All-Purpose, Lace, Decorative, Stretchy Ribbed (toe-up socks, top-down garments, neck openings) and Specific Use. As many as nine different techniques are in each category. (And one of the cast-ons is the legendary Judy’s Magic Cast On. That alone is worth the price of the book for any toe-up sock knitter.)
Each technique has clear, close-up color photos, excellent step-by-step directions and notes on the technique’s characteristics, alternative names and what it’s good for, plus possible pitfalls and how to avoid them. The book’s got a partially concealed wire binding, which means you can keep it flat while working from it, and the print’s big and clear. It’s a rare thing to see so much valuable information packed into such a small space and such a useful format.
Truly, every part of this book was designed with ease of use in mind. The inside front cover groups the cast ons by type, and the back cover does the same for the bind offs. The index breaks it down still further. If you look under, say, “Hats,” you’ll see first a list of suitable bind offs, then the cast ons. Beautiful. The photos show the end result from both the front and the back. It’s a great feature that I’d never seen before in a knitting book, and seeing it made it clear that this book was put together by someone who knows exactly how much of a pain it is to pick out a bind off once you’ve realized you’ve done the wrong one.
I’ve seen a number of these techniques elsewhere, but never all of them together, and absolutely never in such a clear, easy-to-use format. This is a must for any knitter’s library. You’ll go back to it time and again, and you’ll never again have a glorious project wrecked by the wrong technique. (Anyone who’s ended up with a too-tight bind off on a sweater neck knows what I’m talking about.) Buy the book. Your knitting will thank you, and you’ll thank Leslie Ann Bestor for writing “Cast On, Bind Off.”