How to Pick Your Cast-On

I’m continuing the huge job of updating my tutorials and this week I’m focusing on cast-ons. I’ve uploaded 3 new videos (Provisional Cast-on-Crochet Method, Knitted Cast-On and Long Tail Cast-On). When I write a pattern I want to make sure even the newest knitter can find all the information and links they need in the pattern. I really believe that if you have access to the information and you’ve got enough time and patience then any knitting skill can be mastered!

I’ve listed all the cast-ons I’ve now got videos for on this page here.
It’s very useful to have a good range of cast-ons available so when you want to create a different edge effect so you know exactly how to do it!

I’ll give you a few examples here of patterns that I use different types of cast-ons for.

Let’s start with the Long Tail Cast-On. This is my standard go-to cast on. If a pattern doesn’t call out for a specific cast-on this is usually the method that I have used. I’ve done videos for 2 different types of ways to work this cast-on; the standard method and the thumb method. As a knitter that holds their yarn in the right hand I’ve always used the thumb method as it’s just a natural extension of this knitting style. However both techniques produce the same end result so you should use the method that you like best!

For top down patterns I generally don’t call for a cast-on at the neck edge but I generally use the Long Tail Method.

My biggest use of Cable Cast-On would be at the underarm cast-on stitches for top down patterns. This cast-on creates a nice firm set of stitches here and can really help prevent it from stretching out.

If you want to create a very slick, seamless finish you can even use the Alternate cable Cast-On which alternates between knit and purl stitches so the cast-on flows seamlessly into the knitting. This was used for the body and sleeve cast-on method in Portulaca Cardigan. (If you want help knitting this cardigan you can get the full construction video in my Celtic Cables Craftsy class).

One of the most amazing cast-on techniques out there is the Provisional Cast-On (Invisible and crochet methods). This is a very fun cast-on as it opens up a world of possibilities. With this cast-on type you use waste yarn (or even a second circular needle) to cast on with. Then using your working yarn you knit until you reach the finish point for that side. Now you can undo the waste yarn from the cast-on point and begin working in the other direction. This is really useful if you want to create seamless knits that start from the middle that are exactly mirrored on each side. I’ve used this technique in my patterns Taupo and Dragon Flames.

You can find some more of my side-to-side knits here, many of which use a provisional cast-on. With this type of cast-on you need to be careful of one thing, the half-stitch ‘jog’. When you start working in the second direction you will find that your work is ½ a stitch over from the other side. This means that you’ll need to pick up a ‘loop’ at one end or otherwise you’ll be a stitch short. For sockinette stitch the jog doesn’t have an impact but if you’ve got ribbing or a very definite stitch pattern it can be noticeable. Ideally if you’ve got a transition at the middle it can help to hid the jog.
I generally use the crochet method for my provisional cast-on but it’s handy to know the invisible method as well as it is faster and you can even use a circular needle to cast directly on to.
Summer Affair has a long cast-on so I used the Invisible method for that pattern.

For Taupo I used the crochet method.

This is just a taster of different cast-on techniques. I’ve shared some of my favourites but I continue to learn new methods every day. Do you have a favourite?

3 thoughts on “How to Pick Your Cast-On

  1. Hi!!
    I’m knitting a cardigan (my first) and it’s knitted from the side to the center. It starts with the double moss stitch for 12 rows. I want to do this RIGHT, but I’m trying to dig out which cast-on method I should use?! I read where this one type of cast-on is like doing your first row ALONG with your cast-on row. Seeing as how I’m doing the double moss stitch, do I need to purl while casting on?? Or do I start with my first pattern row?? I don’t know if I count the cast-on row as row 1 of the pattern?? The more I think about it and try to look-up stuff, the more confused I get!! Can you help me?? Thanx~

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