Casting on (knitting)
In knitting, casting on is a family of techniques for adding new stitches that do not depend on earlier stitches, i.e., stitches having an independent lower edge. In principle, casting on is the opposite of binding off, but the techniques involved are generally unrelated.
Casting on can also be decorated with various stitch patterns, especially picots. The cast-on stitches can also be twisted clockwise or counterclockwise as they are added to the needle; this is commonly done for the single cast-on described above to give it a neater, more uniform look.
Casting on is sometimes done with two needles, or a needle of larger size; the extra length of yarn in each stitch gives the edge more flexibility.
When casting on at the beginning, one end of the yarn must be secured to the knitting needle by knotting it, usually with a slip knot. This knot is unnecessary when casting on in the middle of the fabric (e.g., when making the upper edge of a buttonhole) since the yarn is already secured to the fabric. The original slip knot can also be pulled out (after a few rows have been knitted) without damaging the knitted fabric.
Once one loop has been secured around the needle, others can be added by several methods.
Methods for casting on in handknitting
- Knit-on cast-on
- Perhaps the most straightforward method, in which a new loop is drawn through the previous loop and then added to the needle. However, this method is deprecated for giving an untidy edge. It can also be done in a purl version, or even a rib version.
- Cable cast-on
- A closely related technique, in which a new loop is drawn through the space between the two previous loops and then added to the needle. This edge is firm and has a neat, corded look; although it may be too bulky with thick yarns.
- Single cast-on
- An even simpler method, also called the simple cast-on or "backward loop cast-on," which involves adding a series of half hitches to the needle. This creates a very stretchy, flexible edge. It is a common approach for adding several stitches to the edge in the middle of a knitted fabric, but it is difficult to knit from and make even. A variation is the twisted simple cast on, where you twist the new loop around your thumb, with the yarn going around the back of your thumb to the front as in the simple cast-on, but picking up the new loop from the back side of the loop. This is tighter and neater, but has less elasticity.
- Double cast-on
- A common method, in which all the loops are made with one yarn, while the other end (the dangling end from the original slip knot) is used to secure the base of each loop. This method is also called the "knit half-hitch cast on" or the "long-tail cast on." Although popular, this method requires that the knitter estimate the length of the dangling yarn before the stitches are cast on; if the dangling yarn is too short, the knitter will run out of yarn with which to secure the stitches before the full number of stitches have been cast on. In that case, the knitter will have to pull everything out, re-position the slip knot to give a longer tail, and begin anew. Despite this shortcoming, it's a good all-around method for casting on. Another variation for this method is to use two different yarns, one the main yarns that you are using for your project, and the second a piece of contrasting waste yarn. You attach the two with a slip knot, and then using the waste or contrast yarn as your long tail, start your row. This is useful if you need to pick up stitches on your cast on edge in order to knit in the opposite direction. You can also use it decoratively, making the contrast or waste yarn a part of your pattern design.
To execute it, you start by figuring out how much yarn you expect your cast-on row to require and pulling out that amount of yarn. Once you have that, put a slip knot on the needle (this is not absolutely necessary, since the first cast-on stitch will create a slip knot for you in the process, but it is generally more secure to start with a slip knot). Hold the needle in your right hand and the yarn in your left, with the long tail pulled around your thumb and hanging in front, and the yarn from ball around your first or second finger, with the ball tail heading toward the back. Once you have that, take the needle under the front of the long tail, picking up a half hitch, then back to the yarn over your finger from the top side of the yarn, pulling the loop through the half hitch you had formed.
This cast on can also be done in a purl and a twisted stitch version as well.
- Tubular cast-on
- Involves knitting onto a cast on row knitted in a contrasting yarn with half as many stitches. Each knit stitch into the contrasting stitches is followed by a yarn-over to double the number of stitches. After several rows, a tuck is formed by knitting together the first and third rows, forming a tube through which elastic can be pulled. A neat edge, nicely suited for 1x1 ribbing.
- Provisional cast-on (standard)
- Also known as an "invisible cast-on," since the waste yarn used can be pulled out later to allow the knitter to continue the knitting in the opposite direction. This cast-on is also the best method for double-knit fabrics, since the knitting has no boundary; the knitting is continuous from one side of the fabric to the other. Holding the ends of a waste yarn and the working yarn, make an overhand knot. Place a needle held in the left hand between the two yarns, with the knot below, the waste yarn held underneath and parallel to the needle out to the right, and the working yarn up and in front of the needle. Bring the working yarn down behind the needle and in front of the waste yarn; up behind the waste yarn and over-and-up then down in front of the needle; down behind the waste yarn; then up in front of the needle. Repeat for each two stitches. When desired number of stitches is reached, loosely fasten the waste yarn and work as usual with the working yarn. To take out the provisional cast-on, unfasten the end of the waste yarn and carefully pull it out, picking up the now loose loops on a needle and working from the opposite direction of previous work.
- Double needle cast-on
- First, you must put all of your stitches on one needle.
- Braided cast-on
- Frequently used in mitten edges ...
- Chain cast-on
- Uses a crochet hook or two knitting needles. To execute, hold a knitting needle in left hand and crochet hook or second knitting needle in right hand. Make a slip-knot in yarn and put it on the crochet hook or right-hand needle. Wrap the yarn from the back of the left-hand needle and over to the front, over the crochet hook or right needle, pass the slip-knot loop over the wrap, leaving the new loop on the crochet hook or right needle. Repeat, wrapping the yarn over the left-hand needle before passing it over the crochet hook or right needle to make a new loop, until you have one less stitch than required. Place the last loop on the left-hand needle as the first stitch that will be worked. This cast-on creates an edge that mimics a standard bind-off edge.
- Crochet chain cast-on
- For this you need to know how to do a simple crochet chain. Once you have chained enough to equal the number of stitches you need, plus a few extra, turn the chain over so that you see the bumps that were forming as you pulled the yarn through the hole. Put your knitting needle through those bumps and knit through it as normal. This produces the same edge as knitting on.
- Provisional chain cast-on
- Simply the crochet chain cast-on using waste yarn; this is also an "invisible cast-on" that can be pulled out later to allow knitting in the opposite direction. Work a crochet chain in waste yarn, loosely fastening the tail end. With working yarn, pick up the chain-bumps, as for the crochet chain cast-on, to create the working stitches. To take out the cast-on, simply pull out the tail of the waste yarn at the fastened end and "zip off" the crochet chain. Pick up the now loose loops and work from the opposite direction of previous work. This is done in toe-up socks and shawls or scarves with directional patterns that need to start from a center edge.
- Turkish cast-on
- Used for circular beginnings, often for the toes of socks made toe-up. It is invisible (as with the provisional cast-on). You begin with two circular needles held one above the other as you look at them (Upper called A, lower called B). Place a slip-knot on B, and wrap the yarn up behind A. Then begin wrapping it around both needles, down in front and up in back, until the number of wraps equals half the number of stitches needed. Slide B along, through the wraps, until they sit on the cable, and the ends dangle on either side. Then bring the other, loose, end of A up, and knit into the wraps still on A. Once you've knit all of those wraps, pull A until the wraps are on the cable, and pull B so that the tip of the needle holds the wraps, pointed to the end with the working yarn. Bring up the other end of B and knit across the wraps again. This completes one round. From here, you can continue to work around the stitches on the two circular needles, increasing as desired, or switch to double pointed needles or a single circular needle for the Magic Loop method of knitting circularly.
- Magic cast-on
- Developed by Judy Becker; also known as the "magic toe-up cast-on," due to its popular use in beginning toe-up sock construction. Instructions were first published in an issue of the on-line knitting magazine knitty.com .
- Circular cast-on
- Popularized by Elizabeth Zimmermann as "Emily Ocker's Circular Beginning."
- Old Norwegian cast-on
- Also known as the "German Twisted cast-on" and similar to the "long-tail cast on" but uses a longer tail due to a second twist in the thumb loop. Leaving a tail the necessary length, make a slipknot and place it on a needle held in your right hand. The slipknot counts as the first stitch. Place the thumb and index finger of your left hand between the yarn ends so that the strand connected to the ball is around your index finger and the tail end is around your thumb. Secure the yarn ends with your other fingers and hold your palm upwards, making a V of yarn. Bring the needle in front of your thumb, under both yarns around the thumb, down into the center of the thumb loop, back forward, and over the top of the yarn around your index finger. Use the needle to catch this yarn, then bring the needle back down through the thumb loop, turning your thumb slightly to make room for the needle to pass through. Drop the loop off your thumb and place your thumb back in the V configuration while tightening up the resulting stitch on the needle. Instructions published on knittingdaily.com .
Hiatt, June Hemmons (1988). The Principles of Knitting. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 123–148.
Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework. Reader's Digest Association. 1979.
Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book. New York: Sixth and Spring Books. 2002.
Wiseman, Nancy M. (2002). The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques. Woodinville, WA: Martingale & Company. pp. 9–25.
Zimmermann, Elizabeth (1974, 1981). Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac. New York: Dover Publications. p. 141.