Before I start talking about how to create this cast-on you really need to know why and when you would use it. A provisional cast-on is used as a ‘holding space’ for when you will need to use those stitches again. For instance if you are starting a sweater at the bottom but you still haven’t decided how you want to work the edge then you can begin the body using a provisional cast-on and you can come back later, undo it and work your edge in the opposite direction.
It can also be used in a situation where you want to work in two directions, begin your work using a provisional cast-on and once you have undone it you can work in two directions.
Now that you know when you need this cast-on you must decide which type of provisional cast-on you want to use. There are several different types out there but the Crochet method that I’ve described below is my favorite. It is easy to work even for a non-crocheter like me!
See it in action in this video or check out the photo tutorial below:
Start by creating a slip stitch and placing it on your crochet hook using a smooth waste yarn. Cotton is a good choice or another smooth fuzz free yarn.
Step 1: Now hold your crochet hook at right angles above the knitting needle and wrap the yarn around under the knitting needle and over the crochet hook.
Step 2: Pull the yarn through the crochet hook. You will now have 1 stitch on the crochet hook, 1 stitch on the needle and the start of a crochet chain forming.
Step 3: Continue to repeat step 2 above until you have the number of stitches you want on your needle. Take care to always wrap the yarn around the needle as shown in step 1. If you do not your crochet chain will not ‘unzip’ neatly when you go to undo it.
Step 4: When you have competed the stitches you need, break your waste yarn and put a knot at the end. This will let you know which side you must start at to unzip the stitches later.
Now with your working yarn just start knitting with the stitches you have created. When you want to begin working with the provisional stitches undo the crochet cast on starting at the knotted end and place all the stitches on a needle.
Do note that when begin working in the opposite direction from a provisional cast on that your stitches are off set by half a stitch. If you are working in a new stitch pattern (st st is usually ok as well) pattern this is not noticeable but if may be a slight issue if you are continuing a complex pattern in the opposite direction.