Cast ons and Bind offs: Two Books Full

Filed in Industry Insight, Skill Building by on July 17, 2014 1 Comment

For a while now, I’ve been fascinated about the fact that in 2012, two books with the main title of Cast On Bind Off were published independently by separate publishers. It was the year of beginnings and endings, at least in the knitting world. 

Until now, I haven’t had the opportunity to really look through these two books, differentiate them in my mind and understand the merits of each one. The bottom line is that if you’re a “book person” the way I am, you’re probably going to want both Cast On Bind Off books. If you happen to be possessed of discipline, frugality and a particularly discerning eye, then perhaps my brief assessment of each will help you decide which one of them to own.

The two books in question, next to each other for visual comparison.

The two books in question, next to each other for visual comparison.

Cast On, Bind Off: 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting
by Cap Sease, published by Martingale

This book is the larger of the two, with nearly 4 times as many options as the other book. The binding is hardbound with a lay-flat spiral. It’s also now available in paper-bound and Kindle formats. The overall look and feel is clean and bright, with a lot of white space on each page and a classic serif font. It has a concise table of contents, with the beginning of each section identified by page number. There is also a comprehensive index (can you give me a hallelujah!?). On the lower, outer corner of each page, you can always find out which category of cast on or bind off that you’re in, the page number and a colored tab identifying the larger divisions of the book: introductory material, cast ons or bind offs.

I appreciate this kind of thought going into the design of a book. There are other books that I really want to love wholeheartedly, but difficulty in navigation keeps me from committing. This book invites both browsing and study. A highlight of the intro section is a chart listing a desired characteristic for a cast on or bind off with a list of techniques that answer that need. There is also a chart showing cast ons and bind off that match. For both of these charts, a quick turn to the index reveals the precise location of each technique.

Entries include photos of the cast on and bound off edges, and color diagrams of the maneuvers. The diagrams are of hands working the cast on so the reader can reference finger position.

I have already learned some things from this book, which of course makes me very happy. I like the straightforward approach and careful design. It has a classic, serious feel to it, and will be a useful addition to your knitting library.

Layout and Diagrams

Layout and Diagrams

Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods; Find the perfect start and finish for every knitting project
by Leslie Ann Bestor, Published by Storey

So basically friends, we have winners with both Cast On Bind Off books. This book is considerably smaller, and covers a carefully curated collection of “only” 54 techniques (smile). The cover is a beautifully substantial coated paper, with an internal spiral. It is perfect to tuck into a knitting bag. It is also available for Kindle. The look and feel are artistic and colorful, with pages having a different, soft-colored background depending on the section of the book. The photos are set on a more lively version of the same color. This makes it easy to go from section to section. There is a quick-reference chart on the inside front cover with techniques sorted into main characteristics. This is a nice touch if you just need help now and don’t want to thumb around. The full table of contents is accompanied by photos of representative techniques. And again, for the win, a real index. Thank you, publishers!

For my photographer’s eye, this whole book is visually rich, with artistic closeups of knitted and other fabrics throughout. Techniques are illustrated by a photo of a swatch as well as photographs of each step. Scattered throughout the main sections are boxes and sidebars with tips and tricks. The font is a modern san-serif style which is printed in slightly darker or lighter ink depending on the colored background. This is a tiny little detail that might fall beneath a reader’s notice but is an important detail to make the type as clear as possible. However, some eyes do not appreciate this kind of detail, so pay attention before you buy to whether such a thing makes a book easier or harder for you to use.

Overall, this is a really beautiful book with all the basics and more that most knitters will need ready access to in the course of everyday knitting. While there is of course some overlap with the larger book, many knitters will find both Cast On Bind Off books to be useful because of the size/portability option. Some will have a clear preference based on book design and layout. For these reasons and more, I think it’s great that we have both of these valuable references available to us.

Layout and page design.

Layout and page design.

Another reason for me to explore these books more fully is this whole month at, we’ve been focusing exclusively on cast ons and bind offs. We’ve tried a whole bunch of options (both new and familiar). We’ve made videos. We’ve written articles and posted photos. And for next week we are interviewing one of our favorite experts, JC Briar.  Every month is just the same, except about a different topic – a ton of great content delivered right to your computer! 

So tell us, how many cast-ons or bind-offs do you know and which one has had the most impact on your knitting?


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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