Provisional cast-ons hold live stitches for you to knit into later. Doing a provisional cast-on is a great way to knit a scarf from the center-out: you first knit one half of the scarf and bind off, then insert your needle into the stitches that were “on hold” and knit the other half of the scarf. There will be no seam or visible indication of what you’ve done.
Provisional cast-ons are also used in many other kinds of projects. You may think the idea seems scary or complicated, but I encourage you to try learning the two cast-ons below – you’ll see they aren’t as scary as you thought. The two provisional cast-ons in this section are interchangeable.
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.
1. To cast on an even number of stitches, start with a yarnover.
2. To cast on an odd number of stitches, start by bringing your needle under the waste yarn or circular needle.
3. Make sure that your last stitch is not a yarnover – if it is, it will fall off the needle.
4. When you remove the waste yarn and put the stitches on your left-hand needle, insert the needle from front to back to make sure the stitches are facing the right way. If you have used a circular needle, this won’t be an issue.
5. To do a provisional cast-on for ribbing, work the first row after the cast-on in all knits or all purls. Then start the ribbing. This ensures the chain of provisional yarn unravels easily.
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.
To do a provisional cast-on for ribbing, work the first row after the cast-on in all knits or all purls. Then start the ribbing. This ensures the chain of provisional yarn unravels easily.
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1. After you have cast on the stitches you need, create one last loop but don’t place it on your needle. Just remove the crochet hook and put in a stitch marker. This is the key to making the cast-on easy to remove later on.
2. When you remove the waste yarn and put the stitches on your left-hand needle, insert the needle from front to back to make sure the stitches are facing the right way.