Crochet provisional cast-on method – a right-handed knitting tutorial

Sample of knitting with crochet provisional cast-on worked in waste yarn

An easy provisional cast-on method

The crochet provisional cast-on method that I’m going to show you today is a modification of the crochet cast-on.

The following explanations and images are for those who knit right-handed, that is, your working hand is your right hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and the stitches move from the left to right needle as you knit. If you knit left-handed, then go to my blog post: Crochet provisional cast-on method – a tutorial for knitting left-handed.

Start with some waste yarn!

The term ‘waste yarn’ will make some of you uneasy. All it means is you take some spare yarn to use as a foundation for your stitches. This yarn will be removed later and discarded, hence the terms ‘waste yarn’ and ‘provisional cast-on’. Choose a smooth yarn that is slightly finer than your project yarn; I normally use mercerised cotton.

Start in the same way as for the crochet cast-on: make a slipknot in your waste yarn and place it on the crochet hook; hold the crochet hook in your right hand. Wrap the yarn around your left hand as if to crochet and hold a knitting needle in the same hand. Place the knitting needle over the ball end of the yarn.

Start provisional crochet cast-on using waste yarn; hold hook in your right hand and knitting needle in your left hand

Pass your crochet hook over the knitting needle. Grab the yarn with the hook (move the hook back under the yarn, then forward over it), so the yarn is round the hook.

Pass crochet hook over knitting needle and grab yarn with hook

Pull the yarn through the loop on the hook, thus creating a stitch on the knitting needle.

Pull yarn through loop on hook

Pass the yarn backwards between the hook and needle.

Pass yarn backwards between hook and needle

Cast on the rest of the stitches in the same way until you have the number of stitches you require. So, for the crochet provisional cast-on, if you want 10 stitches, you need to cast on ten. I’m pointing this out because with the crochet cast-on method you cast on one fewer stitch than you require.

Continue casting on stitches in waste yarn until you have required number

Transfer the stitch on the crochet hook to a lockable stitch marker, not the knitting needle. This will make it easy to remove the waste yarn later. Cut the waste yarn leaving a long tail so that it doesn’t unravel. That’s the crochet provisional cast-on part done!

Transfer stitch on crochet hook to lockable stitch marker

Pick up your project yarn

Pick up your project yarn and start knitting with it. Leave a long enough tail so that the first stitch doesn’t unravel.

Start knitting with your working yarn

Knit the required number of rows.

Work a few more rows using your working yarn

Remove the waste yarn

Remove the lockable stitch marker. I find it easiest to do the next stage if I hold my knitting upside-down so that the waste yarn is at the top.

Hold your knitting upside-down

Insert a knitting needle into the first loop of your project yarn, …

Insert knitting needle into first loop of working yarn

… then carefully pull out the first waste yarn stitch.

Carefully remove first stitch in waste yarn

Continue like this removing the waste yarn one stitch at a time until all your live stitches are on a knitting needle.

Continue removing waste yarn stitches until all live stitches are on knitting needle

In the photo above, the provisional cast-on loops formed by removing the waste yarn are on the top needle; you will have one fewer stitch here than at the other end of your knitting.

Alternative provisional cast-on methods

I used to crochet a chain, then pick up and knit through the bump on the back of each chain. There are two problems with this method:

  1. It is difficult to insert the knitting needle into each bump if the crochet chain is tight.
  2. The crochet chain will not unravel easily if the knitting needle is inserted through another part of the chain rather than the bump.

There is also a looping provisional cast-on, which is similar to the German two-stranded cast-on.

When should you use a provisional cast-on?

  1. Knitting a cowl by grafting the provisional cast-on loops to the free loops of a length of knitting.
  2. Finishing knitted hems: fold the knitting horizontally, then knit together one provisional cast-on loop and one free loop.
  3. Starting a toe-up sock with a short-row toe.
  4. Knitting a scarf with matching ends: start with a provisional cast-on and knit from the middle to the first end then remove the waste yarn and knit from the middle to the second end.

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