Monday, October 12, 2009

Ode to Judy

There once was a knitter named Judy
And one day, while sick and all woozy,
She made up a trick
It's really quite slick
It's a cast-on, and it is a beauty.

In the Spring of 2006,
Judy Becker published her Magic Cast-On in Sock knitters around the world quickly adopted this ingenious technique and applied it to toe-up socks.

But what about other ways to use JMCO? And other patterns, besides stockinette stitch?

After I learned how to do Judy's Magic Cast-On, I adapted it to a rib pattern. This is useful for all kinds of things -- but mostly I use it to make mini-moebii.

This little guy, for instance, is the perfect size for making baby socks. (Yes, that's
Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off at the edge.)

My latest video walks you through doing the traditional JMCO, reverse JMCO (i.e., purl), and JMCO Rib -- which, with Judy's permission, I have affectionately named "Judy's Magic Rib."

(watch it on

In the video I show two strands of yarn tied together in a knot. This is just for visual reference so you can more easily see which end is the working yarn (purple) and which is the non-working, or tail, end of the yarn (red). Normally Judy's Magic Cast-On is done with a single strand of yarn -- in fact, that's what's so great about it!

Note that Judy's Magic Rib will always have a visible half-stitch shift at the cast-on row. I happen to think this is an endearing feature, but I know Judy doesn't love it.

Thank you Judy for sharing your ingenious cast-on with all of us!

Below are some images that I hope will clarify the process of doing JMCO-purl. You need to get comfortable with this before you can master Judy's Magic Rib. (10/23 Addendum: Note that the exact method here shown for starting JMCO-purl is a little different from what I show in a later post, "A crash course in Illustrator." The newer one is better!)

1. Put the yarn around the bottom needle with the ends coming toward you, the non-working end (red) coming over the top. Get ready to swing the working (purple) yarn up with your forefinger so it crosses in front of the non-working (red) end.

2. With your forefinger, continue upwards; swing the working (purple) yarn up and over the top needle, bringing it back through between the needles.

3. With your thumb, grab the non-working (red) yarn...
(The working yarn is now IN FRONT of the bottom needle -- sorry this is a bit obscured in the photo).

... and swing it in front of the working (purple) yarn, and up and over the bottom needle.

4. After you swing the non-working (red) yarn over the needle, rotate your hand clockwise.

5. After you have rotated, use your forefinger to bring the working (purple) yarn up, over, and between the needles.

6. Then, as in step 3, grab the non-working (red) yarn with your thumb and bring it in front of the working yarn, and over the bottom needle.

You now have two stitches on your needles. From here, continue from step 4 (in which you rotate your hand).

Hope this helps to clarify Judy's Magic Cast-On in purl. Stay tuned for written instructions for Judy's Magic Rib!


  1. Thanks for showing this -- I've never seen anyone do the purl version! Cool :-)