Do You Really Need 211 Cast-ons and Bind-offs?

Nearly a year ago, I reviewed the book Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods by Leslie Ann Bestor and promised a review of Cap Sease’s book Cast On, Bind Off: 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting. I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to reviewing Sease’s book. Maybe it has something to do with me being a world class procrastinator. Anyway, for your reading pleasure, here are my thoughts on 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting and how it compares to 54 Step-by-Step Methods.

211 Ways is printed on heavy, glossy paper and has a wire binding underneath a hard cover.

front cover

front cover

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wire binding

It is a very large book, approximately 11.5 inches by 9 inches; the thick, glossy paper feels substantial and gives the impression that this is a book that will hold up under constant use. The wire binding means that the book lies flat when open. However, the large format of the book makes it clunky to use. It cannot be tucked into a project back, and when opened, it needs a large, flat surface to lie on. I don’t know about you, but when I’m knitting, I don’t have a large, flat surface on which to lay a large book, and it just doesn’t fit well on my lap. The large size of the book also makes it a little awkward to turn the pages and difficult to just flip through the book.

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table of contents

The book has an index in the back that makes it easy to find a specific cast-on or bind-off or a specific type of cast-on or bind-off, e.g. provisional, tubular, stretchy, etc. The charts in the beginning of the book make it quick and easy to find cast-ons and bind-offs with the characteristics the knitter is looking for and to find a cast-on and bind-off that match.

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handy charts in the front of the book

The step-by-step instructions are illustrated with drawings, and there is a photograph of a knitted swatch of each cast-on and bind-off. In my opinion, drawings tend to be better for illustrating techniques than photographs because they show more detail. But there’s no substitute for photographs of knitted swatches to show exactly what the cast-on or bind-off will look like.

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Unfortunately, the knitted swatches were done in heathered and tonal yarns and just don’t show the detail as clearly as light, solid-colored yarn would have.

As one might expect, a large book with a hard cover, wire binding, high-quality paper, and lots of color illustrations doesn’t come cheap. The list price of Cast On, Bind Off: 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting is $27.99 US which is a lot higher than the list price of Bestor’s book ($16.95 US), but if you buy from Amazon, Sease’s book is a very reasonable $19.99 US.

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The difference in size is substantial.

So, what would I recommend? If you are into collecting knitting reference books, both of these books are worth purchasing. If you just want a book that is a guide to different cast-ons and bind-offs and when to use them, Bestor’s book wins hands down. It’s compact size makes it perfect for tucking into your project bag. It’s layout makes it easier to use because the pictures and instructions are side by side. Here’s a picture of how the same cast-on is treated in both books.

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No, you really don’t need 211 cast-ons and bind-offs. Fifty-four are plenty for any knitter. Bestor’s book is not only a better value, it’s a better book.

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9 thoughts on “Do You Really Need 211 Cast-ons and Bind-offs?

  1. Yap, I agree! I got Bestor’s book for Christmas, as I had read a review on one of my favourite blogs and wanted it to expand my knitting skills …

    A couple of amazon reviews, however, are pretty bad, they complain about the “tiny” size of the writing and the small phtographs. For me, I have to admit, videos work a bit better than photographs – but if I got the essentials, the small book is not only handy, but also awesome in reminding me what to do. 🙂

    Thank you so much for the review! 🙂

    • The type font is the same size in both books, and the pictures in Sease’s books are only about a quarter of an inch bigger, so I guess both books have “tiny” writing and small pictures. LOL

      Videos, if decently done, are great for learning new techniques. I taught myself to spin using videos.

  2. Thanks for the review. 🙂 I was wondering about cast ons and bind offs. I’ve been doing the same couple over and over for years. lol

    • Yeah, I mostly use long-tail cast on and EZ’s sewn bind off. They work very well for me and are versatile, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But it’s fun to try new techniques, and sometimes one needs a very firm cast-on or bind-off, or one that is very stretchy, or one that looks good with ribbing, etc., etc., etc. And some are fun to try just because. 🙂

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