Read a Knitting Pattern with “Cast On a Multiple…”

What does “Cast on a multiple of xx stitches plus yy” mean?

Here is a question that Joyce, one of the subscribers to the mailing list for this website, asked:

My question is when you see a pattern and it says a Multiple of 6 plus 2 st. or a Multiple of 8 plus 2 st., do I cast on 10 stitches, or is the 8 stitches in the middle of 2 on each side?

This is an excellent question.

The answer

Here is the answer that I gave to Joyce.

A “multiple of 6 st plus 2 st” means that the basic repeat is 6 stitches long. Those extra two stitches might be there to provide symmetry or a border or something else.

In any case, you would cast on something like 8 or 14 or 20 or 26 or 32 and so on. In high school arithmetic terms, 6a+2, where a could be any number.

Similarly, for 8 st plus 2, you would cast on something like 10 or 18 or 26 or 34 or 42 or 50 and so on. 8a+2.

Once you get started working on the pattern, you will be able to figure out where the repeat is – it might be in the middle or at either edge.

Here is one example of what such a repeat could look like:

Cast on a multiple of 8 stitches plus 2.
Row 1: K2. *P6. K2. Rep from * to end.

Or, it could look like this:

Cast on a multiple of 8 stitches plus 2.
Row 1: K1. *P4. K4. Rep from * until 1 st remains. K1.

In both cases, the repeated portion is 8 stitches long.

Is there anything more to know about this

You will usually only see this type of instruction where the instructions are for how to work a particular fancy stitch. For any project, the designer will tell you exactly how many stitches to cast on. And for multi-sized projects, like garments, there will be a different number to cast on for each size.

What about knitting charts?

It might help you to understand the concept a bit more if you look at some knitting charts. Here is the link to the first article in a 5-part series on how to read knitting charts.

Here is one fairly simple chart. It does not show a “repeat” section in it, so the entire 6 stitches are the repeat. To make a project using this chart, you would cast on a multiple of 6 stitches (6, 12, 18, 24, 30, and so on).

Knitting Chart for K3P3 Basketweave

Knitting Chart for K3P3 Basketweave

However, if you wanted the texture to be symmetrical in the project (so that both the left and right edges have the same type of stitches), the chart would look like this. Notice that there is now a “repeat” section. To make a project using this chart, you would cast on a multiple of 6 stitches plus 3 more (9, 15, 21, 27, 33, and so on).

Knitting Chart for K3P3 Basketweave (Symmetrical)

Knitting Chart for K3P3 Basketweave (Symmetrical)

Sometimes, the reason for the extra stitches is to form a border. Here is an example, the Wave of Honey Stitch. In this case, the stitches within the repeat are completely symmetrical. But due to the nature of the stitches involved in this pattern, it is useful to have a border. This chart shows a 1-stitch-wide garter stitch border on each side. To make a project using this chart, cast on a multiple of 4 stitches plus 2 (6, 10, 14, 18, 22, and so on).

Wave of Honey Knitting Stitch Pattern - Chart

Wave of Honey Knitting Stitch Pattern - Chart

Heads up!

There is no relationship between the number of stitches that are cast on and where the repeat is. The extra stitches could be at the beginning or the end or at both ends of the row.

The math is only used at cast-on time.

Conclusion

Once you get over the math involved, the instruction to cast on a multiple of some number of stitches plus some more is not that tricky.

And a big thank you to Joyce for asking the question. If you have a question or comment, either fill in the Leave a Reply section below, or send an email to info@readknittingpatterns.com.


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