deborah's cast-on tips

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  • When using small needles, especially those 000’s and 0000’s, cast on over 2 pair of needles. Then carefully remove one of the needles. It makes knitting that first row easy!

  • Try a new (to you) cast on when you swatch. It will not matter if you do not like it; it is just a swatch.
    —added June 14, 2017

  • Often the directions require the knitter to cast on 4 stitches (or any small number) and distribute over 3 or 4 dpns. This makes for very awkward knitting until enought increases are completed to making knitting easier. Try this: Distribute the stitches over just 2 needles. Work the first few rounds until you have 8 or 10 stitches on the needles; then distribute to the third needle.
    —added October 22, 2013

  • Cable Method of Casting OnCable Cast On
    Cable cast on is formed in the same way as knitting on, except for each new stitch, the needle is inserted between the two previous stitches. The resulting edge is decorative and relatively elastic.

    Make slip knot and knit first stitch on. For each new stitch after that, insert the right needle between 2 stitches; wrap yarn as for knitting(A). Draw through a new stitch and transfer it to left needle(B).

  • Casting on in the round: When making small objects or items that begin in the center, we have to cast on just a few stitches. This can be a challenge. First, you will need a crochet hook the same size of the required knitting needles. (Every knitter should have a set of crochet hooks.) Second, you may want to invest in 4" or 5" double-pointed needles. They  make knitting small items much easier.

    Method 1—Emily Ocker’s Circular Beginning
    Emily Ocker's Circular Beginning First, you are going to make a ring with the required number of stitches, only these are going to be crocheted.
    1. Make a ring. Do not pull it tight; keep it loose. Grasp the loop where the strands meet with your left thumb and index finger.
    You can make the loop with the tail going up. You will then have to weave in the tail.Emily Ocker's Circular Beginning
    2. Insert the hook into the loop from front to back. Grab the yarn with the hook (yo) and bring through the loop. You now have one loop on the hoop.
    3. Insert the hook into the loop again; you will be going under the yarn tail as well. Hook the yarn (yo) and bring through the loop. Hook the yarn again and bring through the loop on the hook as if you were making a chain. You now have two loops on the hook. Repeat this step until you have the required number of loops.
    4. Carefully replace the hook with your needles and begin knitting in the round. After you have finished a few rounds, pull the tail to close up the circle.
    You now have a nice, tight circle with no hole in the middle.
    —updated January 7, 2017

    Crocheters! Check here for a similar method to begin crocheting in the round.

    Method 2
    Cast on the required number of stitches and divide evenly between two needles, not the usual 3 or 4 needles. Using a third needle, knit in the round for a few rounds. If the pattern includes increases, when you have 12 or more stitches, it will probably be comfortable for you to now introduce another needle. Think "Magic Loop," only with double pointed needles.
    —added April 23, 2011 (first posted on January 2011)

    Method 3
    Make a slip knot, leaving a 12" tail. The knot should be snug, not tight. Hold the knot in the left hand and the needle in the right hand. *Yarn over (1 st created); insert the needle into the slip knot’s loop, wrap yarn around needle and pull through the loop (another st created). Rep from * until you have the desired number of stitches. After you have knitted 3 or 4 rounds, pull the tail of the slip knot to close up the hole.
    —revised March 19, 2013 from "Knitting in the Round" by the House of White Birches, pg. 162

    Disappearing Cast-on
    This is a great cast-on when you need a closed hole in the center. You will need a 2-1/2" weaving needle. See the directions here.
    —added October 22, 2013 from Knitting from the Center Out

  • E Cast-on: See Loop Cast On

  • Elastic K1, P1 cast-on. This uses the cable cast-on method for both the knit and purl stitches. It produces a firm, elastic border. Berroco has a video to show you how this is done.
    —added May 28, 2011

  • Judy's Magic Cast-on for Toe-up Socks (or Toe-up Star Toe)
    Creates continuous stockinette stitch at the toe. This might take some practice.
    Written directions
    —added January 28, 2016

  • Judy Becker’s Cast-on on double-pointed needles
    This creates a rounded toe and is so easy to do once you get the hang of it.
    Click here for the directions.
    —link added January 28, 2016

  • Knit cast-on. This is especially useful when casting on in the middle or at the end of a row or round. When beginning a project, begin with a slip knot which will be the first stitch.
    • Step 1: Knit the next st and leave on needle.
    • Step 2: Insert the tip of the left needle into the new st and slide to left needle.
    • Knitted Cast on
    —added February 15, 2015

  • Loop Cast On (Backwards Loop)
    This cast on traditionally is the first method the new knitter learns. It is incredibly easy but leaves a sloppy first row with large loops hanging. This method is also popular for working buttonholes. The next time you use this method, cast on fewer stitches than required. The number will depend on on how many total stitches you need. Now, as you knit that first row, when the yarn between stitches is long enough, loop it around the left-hand needle and knit it. Your first row will be a lot neater.
    —added January 17, 2012, Betty Smith, Twisted Stitches

  • Long Tail Cast On

    How much tail do you need? Try one of the methods to help you determine the requiredlength of the tail.
    • Often, we run out of the “tail” when casting on a large number of stitches. To avoid this, use one end of the skein as your working yarn and the other end (or another ball of yarn) as the tail and cast on. Your yarn tail will never be too short again!
      —added January 17, 2012, Esther Bozak, Twisted Stitches
    • The tail of the yarn, when using a long-tail cast on, should be about 4 times the width of your finished edge.
      —added March 16, 2013
    • Wind your yarn around the needle for the required number of stitches. Add a few inches.
    • Measure a small length of tail; cast on stitches until you use up the tail. With a little math, you can then determine how many inches you need.
      —added January 9, 2017

    Basic long-tail cast on has many names: Continental cast on, German cast on, double cast on, finger cast on, Y cast on, two-strand cast on, one-needle cast on, single-needle cast on, twisted cast on, half-hitch cast on, two-tail cast on, Italian cast on, English method and thumb cast on. Whew!
    —added January 9, 2017, many from Cast On, Bind Off: 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting

    Twisted long tail cast ons provide a stretchy edge. I think the result looks like one row has been worked with purl bumps on both side. Other names for this cast on are German twisted (twisted German) cast on, twisted ast on, elastic long-tail cast on, elastic cast on, Old Norwegian cast on, Old Norwegian sock caston, English cast on, twisted half-hitch cast on, twisted-loop cast on and Maine cast on.
    —added January 9, 2017, many from Cast On, Bind Off: 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting
  • Moebius cast on
    When knitting a Moebius, use the Moebius cast-on. Otherwise you will end up with a faux moebius. Find Cat Bordhi’s excellent video here.
    —added February 23, 2013

  • Picot cast onPicot Cast-on
    This results in a very nice border with picots. Try this example.
    • Using a cable cast-on or other knit cast-on, cast on 4 stitches.
    • Now we are going to begin a 5-stitch picot. Cast on 5 more stitches. Bind off 5 stitches. (Try the modified conventional bind-off; once learned, it is faster.) Slip the stitch from the right- to the lefthand needle by inserting the lefthand needle in the stitch from front to back. You now have 4 stitches.
    • *Cast on 9 stitches (4 stitches plus the 5 stitches for the picot). Bind off 5 stitches. Slip the stitch from the right- to the lefthand needle by inserting the lefthand needle in the stitch from front to back. You have just added 4 stitches to the total cast on.*
    • Repeat between * * until you have 4 stitches less than the total desired.
    • Cast on 4 stitches.
      —added November 8, 2011 from Lucy Neatby’s Knitting Gems
  • Provisional cast on Provisional Cast On
    This is one of the easiest provisional cast ons I have found. Also, it can also be used if you want the cast on edge to match a conventionally bound off edge.
    • Using a smooth yarn in a contrasting color, make a slip knot and place it on a crochet hook the same size as the needles. (Figure 1)
    • With yarn in back of the knitting needle, bring the hook over the top of the needle (Figure 2), catch the yarn and pull it through the loop on the hook. (Figure 3) Repeat this step until the number of stitches desired has been cast on.
    • Chain a few stitches. Cut the yarn and pull through the last chained stitch. When you are ready to unravel the waste yarn, this will be the end that you gently pull to remove the waste yarn.
    • Figure 4 shows the completed cast on.
      —added December 1, 2011 from Lucy Neatby’s Knitting Gems 4
  • Tubular cast-on for K1, P1, ribbing: This has its own page because the directions includes several images. Click here.
    (Printable Page)

  • Tubular cast on for Single-Color Double Knitting
    • Cast on half the desired number of stitches with a smooth yarn in a contrasting color the same weight as the main color.
    • Purl 1 row.
    • Knit 1 elongated row: *K 1, wrap the yarn around the right needle twice, repeat from * ending with K1.
    • With main yarn, purl 1 row dropping the wrapped yarn.
    • Double Knitting Cast-onTo add another loop of main yarn that shows through the elongated stitch, using the beginning tail of the main yarn, complete the stitch by threading it through the first stitch in the row below the needle. This is important if you need an even number of stitches.
    • With main yarn, purl 1 row dropping the wrapped yarn.
    • With main yarn, beginning with a knit row, work 3 rows in stockinette stitch.
    • 1. Pick up the first purl bump of the main yarn, place it on the left-hand needle and knit it. (Be sure to get that first bump created when you completed the stitch in the prior step.)
      2. With yarn forward, slip the next st
      3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to the end of the row.

      You have now cast on and are ready to knit the next row: *K1; with yarn forward, sl 1*, repeat between * * across the row.
      After working several rows in this manner, remove the waste yarn.
      —added January 23, 2016