Basic Cast-On Techniques

Cast-On Tips and Tricks

Troubleshooting Your Cast-On

Basic Long-Tail Cast-Ons

The Long-Tail Cast-On

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The Long-Tail Cast-On
Cast-ons

The long-tail cast-on is a beginner cast-on.

It is fast and easy to do and is moderately stretchy and sturdy.

To prepare for  the long-tail cast-on, estimate how much tail you’ll need and make a slipknot that far into the working yarn.

Put the slipknot on your right-hand needle, stabilize the slipknot with your right index finger, and position the yarn in slingshot position.

Long-Tail Cast-On: Thumb Method

The Thumb Method is another way to create the Long-Tail Cast-On. I think it’s slower and more difficult than the standard way, but if you prefer this method, here’s how to do it:

Old Norwegian (Twisted German) Cast-On

The Old Norwegian Cast-On is a slightly complicated long-tail cast on that is very sturdy and stretchy and has a pretty, double-twisted edge.

The Old Norwegian Cast-On can be used for stockinette stitch as well as ribbing.

To use it for stockinette stitch as shown in the picture, just do the knit version. To use the Old Norwegian Cast-On for ribbing, see the Alternating Old Norwegian Cast-On.

 

Basic Short-Tail Cast-Ons

Purled Cast-On

The Purled Cast-On is the exact opposite of the Knitted Cast-On and is used to add stitches when you’re on the purl side of your work.

It looks exactly the same as the knitted cast-on, only viewed from the back.

Cable Cast-On

The Cable Cast-On is just as easy as the knitted cast-on but has a beautiful and firm twisted edge.

The edge is not very elastic but it is quite sturdy, so you can use it for projects where the edge needs to be decorative but not highly stretchy.

I recommend this short-tail cast-on for adding stitches in the middle of a project.

Chain (Crochet) Cast-On

The special thing about the chain cast-on is that it’s the only cast-on that exactly matches the Standard Bind-Off, so you can use it to create perfectly matching cast-on and bind-off edges.

However, because it creates a rather obvious edge, this wouldn’t be a great choice for adding stitches in the middle of a project.

Backwards Loop (Child’s) Cast-On

The Backwards Loop Cast-On is the easiest of them all.

It’s great for teaching to children and beginning knitters. However, it’s not very sturdy or stretchy, and it’s also difficult to knit into.

The stitches act like a Chinese finger trap and tighten as you knit each one – not very desirable.

Learn this cast-on so you can teach it to your kids and your beginning-knitter friends, then learn a better short-tail cast-on as soon as possible.

Double-Twist Loop Cast-On

The Double-Twist Loop Cast-On is an attractive short-tail cast-on that is relatively fast to do.

It has a sturdy double-twisted edge and, like all short-tail cast-ons, it can be used to add stitches in the middle of any project.

Knitted Cast-On

The Knitted Cast-On is a very easy short-tail cast-on based on the knit stitch. It is moderately stretchy and only semi-durable- it tends to get stretched-out with use.

Avoid using this cast-on on high-wear items like kids’ hat brims or mitten cuffs.

 

Stretchy Long-Tail Cast-Ons

Alternating Long-Tail Cast-On

The Alternating Long-Tail Cast-On is an easy cast-on for any combination of knit and purl stitches.

The “knit version” is the regular Long-Tail Cast-On you’ve already learned. The “purl version” is the opposite movement, and creates a purl cast-on stitch.

You can alternate 1 knit and 1 purl to prepare for 1×1 rib, or you can alternate 2 knits and 3 purls to prepare for 2×3 rib, etc.

Alternating Old Norwegian (Twisted German) Cast-On

The Old Norwegian cast-on is a slightly complicated long-tail cast on that is very sturdy and stretchy and has a pretty, double-twisted edge.

It can be used for stockinette stitch as well as ribbing. To use it for stockinette stitch, just do the knit version.

Double-Start (Estonian/Latvian) Cast-On

The Double-Start Cast-On is a relatively fast and easy way to cast on for 1×1 rib.

It is based on the long-tail cast-on and creates pairs of stitches as you cast on. This cast-on works best for 1×1 rib only, not other combinations of ribbing.

Channel Island Cast-On

The Channel Island cast-on is decorative cast-on for stockinette or ribbing.

It creates a small knot every other stitch and, because it is created with a double strand of yarn, the edge is very sturdy and won’t get stretched-out. It is traditionally used to cast on for gansey sweaters.

Italian Tubular (Invisible Ribbed) Cast-On for 1×1 Rib

The Italian Tubular Cast-On creates a true invisible ribbed cast-on edge for 1×1 rib. The stitches flow from the front to the back with no discernible edge.

There are two steps to this cast-on: the Italian cast-on and 2 or 4 tubular set-up rows.

Doing 4 set-up rows makes the cast-on edge a little more rounded.

Italian Tubular Cast-On for 2×2 Rib

To do the Italian Tubular Cast-On For 2×2 Rib, use the Italian cast-on for 1×1 rib to cast on the number of stitches your pattern calls for and then complete the two tubular set-up rows.

Once you have done the cast-on and tubular set-up rows, you will rearrange the knit and purl stitches as you work your first row to create the k2, p2 pattern.

 

Stretchy Short-Tail Cast-Ons

Alternating Cable Cast-On

The Alternating Cable Cast-On is a very stretchy and almost invisible cast-on for any combination of knit and purl stitches.

As with the alternating long-tail cast-on, the “knit version” of the alternating cable cast-on is the regular cable cast-on you’ve learned, and the “purl version” is the opposite movement.

You can alternate 1 knit and 1 purl to prepare for 1×1 rib, or you can alternate 2 knits and 3 purls to prepare for 2×3 rib, etc.

Slipknot (Buttonhole/Jeny’s Stretchy Slipknot) Cast-On

The Slipknot Cast-On is a reversible and very elastic short-tail cast-on that can be used to add stitches to stockinette or ribbing.

This cast-on is simply a series of slipknots done with the working yarn.

Tillybuddy’s Cast-On

Tillybuddy’s Cast-On (invented by Tillybuddy on Ravelry) is a very sturdy and stretchy short-tail cast-on that can be used for 1×1 or 2×2 rib.

The cast-on uses loops and twists to create pairs of stitches on the needle.

Chinese Waitress Cast-On

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Chinese Waitress Cast-On
Cast-ons

The Chinese Waitress Cast-On is a beautiful, reversible, and stretchy short-tail cast-on.

It was taught to knitting author Cap Sease’s friend by a waitress in a Beijing restaurant, hence the great name.

Not only is this cast-on very stretchy, it also doesn’t curl on stockinette, and it creates a reversible double-chain effect along the bottom edge that is very pretty.

I recommend this cast-on for Garter stitch as well. Use a needle one to two sizes smaller than on your project to make the cast-on blend into Garter stitch.

For those of you who are just bored by other cast-ons, this one is for you. It’s different and interesting, but not hard.

 

Center-Start Cast-Ons

Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast-On

Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast-On, made popular by Elizabeth Zimmerman, is the easiest circular center-start cast on.

It uses a crochet hook to create the number of cast-on stitches needed, and the stitches are then slipped onto a long circular needle or double-points.

When you pull the tail tight, the cast-on zips up into a circle. A little hole is still visible – if you don’t like the hole, try the Invisible Circular Cast-On.

Invisible Circular Cast-On

The invisible Circular Cast-On is used to start in the center of a project that is knit in the round.

Casting on into a ring of yarn places the stitches on your long circular needle. When you arrange your needle for knitting in the round, you pull the tail tight and the circle zips up and closes completely.

Garter Tab Cast-On for Triangular Shawls

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Garter Tab Cast-On for Triangular Shawls
Cast-ons

The Garter Tab Cast-On is an ingenious way to invisibly start a triangular shawl.

A provisional cast-on is used to cast on two or three stitches, then the working yarn is used to knit in garter stitch until you have a little strip of fabric – the “garter tab.”

Picking up stitches along the edge of the tab and in the provisional cast-on places the stitches in such a way that you are ready to start the triangular shawl and it is impossible to tell where you started.

 

Decorative Cast-Ons

Lace Cast-On

The Lace Cast-On is a decorative short-tail cast-on that looks good with garter stitch, seed stitch, and ribbing.

Wrapping the yarn around your left-hand needle before doing a knitted cast-on stitch creates an extra loop of yarn on the edge of your project.

Picot Cast-On

The Picot Cast-On uses a combination of the knitted cast-on and binding off to create a picot edge.

You can use this cast-on to start top-down socks or any project where you’d like a scalloped edge. This cast-on is special in that it has a matching bind-off: the Picot Point Bind-Off #1.

Hemmed Edge Cast-On – Purl or Picot

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Hemmed Edge Cast-On – Purl or Picot
Cast-ons

The Hemmed Edge Cast-On creates a smooth, folded edge. The purl variation adds a row of purl bumps at the fold, and the picot hemmed edge has tiny picot bumps at the fold.

Hemmed edge cast-ons are created by folding a length of stockinette-stitch fabric in half and tacking the cast-on edge down on the wrong side of the work.

I-Cord Cast-On

The I-Cord Cast-On creates an I-cord along the edge of your knitting.

Passing stitches back and forth between the needle-tips as you work a knitted cast-on causes the edge to form an I-cord.

Use sharp lace needles for this cast-on to make manipulating the stitches easier.

 

Double-Sided Cast-Ons

Judy’s Magic Cast-On (JMCO)

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Judy’s Magic Cast-On (JMCO)
Cast-ons

Judy’s Magic Cast-On is a fantastic double-sided cast-on.

Not only is it the sturdiest of the double-sided cast-ons, in my opinion it is also the easiest to knit into, which is when it really counts.

Invented by Judy Becker, this cast-on creates a row of knitting in between the two rows of live stitches on your needles.

I recommend using a long circular needle instead of double-points to do this cast-on.

Judy’s Magic Cast-On (JMCO) for Two-at-a-Time Knitting

Two-at-a-time toe-up socks are one of my favorite uses of Judy’s Magic Cast-On.

If you are comfortable with Magic Loop knitting and Judy’s Magic Cast-On, combine the two skills to start a pair of toe-up socks.

Not only are toe-up socks fast to knit, there’s no heel flap or picking up stitches. In the video below, I walk you through casting on for a two-at-a-time toe-up project.

Turkish Cast-On

The Turkish Cast-On is a double-sided cast-on that is even and sturdy. It’s easy because all it entails is just wrapping the yarn around both of your needle tips held together.

However, what it gains in easiness at the cast-on stage causes more difficulty when it’s time to knit into the cast-on. You’ll need to be proficient in Magic Loop in order to make this cast-on work without dropping stitches.

Figure-8 Cast-On

The Figure-8 Cast-On is my least-favorite double-sided cast-on.

The cast-on row of stitches can be loose and have a noticeable kink, instead of curving smoothly.

Like the Turkish cast-on, the figure-8 cast-on is easy to do but hard to knit into. You’ll need to be proficient in Magic Loop in order to make this cast-on work without dropping stitches.

 

Multicolor Cast-Ons

Contrasting-Color Cast-On with Corded or Braided Edge

The easiest way to create a contrasting-color edge is to tie two colors of yarn together in a slipknot and use them to do any kind of long-tail cast-on.

The yarn that goes over your thumb will be the color that creates the contrasting edge.

Two-Color Cast-On with Corded or Braided Edge

To make a two-color edge, two colors of yarn are used together in a Long-Tail Cast-On and the strands are rotated between each cast-on stitch.

Three-Color Cast-On with Corded or Braided Edge

To make a three-color edge, three colors of yarn are used together in a Long-Tail Cast-On and all three strands are rotated between each cast-on stitch.

Twined Cast-On for Two-Color Ribbing with Contrasting Edge

The twined cast-on sets you up for two-color ribbing and creates a contrasting edge in a third color.

 

Provisional Cast-Ons

Provisional Cast-On

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Provisional Cast-On
Cast-ons

The standard provisional cast-on uses a circular needle or a piece of waste yarn to hold the stitches until you are ready to work them.

I love the idea of using a circular needle to hold the stitches because when you are ready to knit them they are already on the needle and ready to go.

However, if you’re going to be turning your work a lot and don’t want a circular needle hanging down and banging around, you can use a piece of waste yarn.

Crochet Provisional Cast-On

The crochet provisional cast-on is very convenient because it’s so easy to remove.

It works the same way as the Chain Cast-On, only you’ll be using a piece of waste yarn to cast on the first row . After you cast on, work the stitches in your working yarn according to your pattern.

When it’s time to remove the cast-on, simply pull the tail – the chain will unravel easily.

 

Special Shapes

Moebius Cast-On

The moebius cast-on was invented by Cat Bordhi as a way to start a loop with one twist in it.

The cast-on itself is similar to a provisional cast-on, but then setting up the moebius and checking it to find the twist make the endeavor more complicated.

Working the first round can be a little slow and confusing – I’ve demonstrated the cast-on all the way through knitting the first round so that you won’t get stuck.

Liat’s Limitless Cast-On for Two-at-a-Time Anything

Liat’s Limitless Cast-On for Two-at-a-Time Anything is a top-down cast-on I invented for two-at-a-time knitting in the round on Magic Loop.

It’s the easiest way to get started knitting two tubes that are open on the end, like top-down socks.

 

Two-at-a-Time Cast-Ons

Judy’s Magic Cast-On (JMCO) for Two-at-a-Time Knitting

Two-at-a-time toe-up socks are one of my favorite uses of Judy’s Magic Cast-On.

If you are comfortable with Magic Loop knitting and Judy’s Magic Cast-On, combine the two skills to start a pair of toe-up socks.

Not only are toe-up socks fast to knit, there’s no heel flap or picking up stitches. In the video below, I walk you through casting on for a two-at-a-time toe-up project.

Liat’s Limitless Cast-On for Two-at-a-Time Anything

Liat’s Limitless Cast-On for Two-at-a-Time Anything is a top-down cast-on I invented for two-at-a-time knitting in the round on Magic Loop.

It’s the easiest way to get started knitting two tubes that are open on the end, like top-down socks.

 

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