The knitted cast-on method is easy
The knitted cast-on method is an easy way to cast on stitches. It’s not always the best way, so I’m going to show you how to do a knitted cast-on, then tell you when and when not to use it.
How you did you learn to knit? Did your mother or grandmother teach you? Maybe you learnt from a book? Or did you learn via the internet? I’m old enough that my mother and grandmothers could all knit, although I proved impossible to teach. Eventually, I realised that the reason that I couldn’t knit was that I was left-handed and everyone was trying to teach me to knit right-handed. People weren’t insisting that I knit right-handed; it just didn’t occur to them that knitting left-handed was different. Consequently, I taught myself to knit using “A Ladybird Book about Knitting”, which I borrowed from the library. There was only one cast-on method, which must have been the one my family used because it was a few years before I discovered that there are different cast-on methods. It turns out that I had learnt the knitted cast-on method.
The following explanations and images are for those who knit left-handed, that is, your left hand is your working hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and you move your stitches from your right to left needle as you knit. If you knit right-handed, then read this blog post: Knitted cast-on method – a tutorial for knitting right-handed.
Start with a slip knot
There are a few cast-on methods that start with a slip knot. There are several ways of making a slip knot: I’ll cover these in a future tutorial.
The knitted cast-on method uses two knitting needles: place the slip knot on the needle in your right hand, hold the other needle in your left hand and hold the yarn using your preferred method. I usually knit by throwing the yarn, so in the following photos, I’m holding my yarn with my left hand.
Insert your left-hand needle into the slip knot on your right-hand needle. You’ll need to hold onto the yarn tail otherwise you’ll be chasing the slip knot around!
Holding the yarn behind your needles, wrap the yarn around the left-hand needle anticlockwise (counterclockwise) (when viewed from the non-pointed end). This means that you move the yarn forward under your left-hand needle, then pass it back over the same needle (the same movement as when making a knit stitch).
Use your left-hand needle to pull a new loop through the loop of the slip knot (again, the same movement as when making a knit stitch).
Keep pulling this loop out until you can move the right-hand needle forward over it …
and into the loop. Remove your left-hand needle; you have two stitches!
Now make another stitch
Insert your left-hand needle into the newest stitch on your right-hand needle. With practice, you’ll be able to transfer the new stitch from your left-hand to your right-hand needle and position the left-hand needle ready to make a new stitch without removing it.
Holding the yarn behind your needles, wrap the yarn around the left-hand needle anticlockwise (counterclockwise) (when viewed from the non-pointed end). In other words, you move the yarn forward under your left-hand needle, then pass it back over the same needle.
Use your left-hand needle to pull a new loop through the stitch (the same movement as when making a knit stitch).
Keep pulling this loop out until you can move the right-hand needle forward over it and into the loop. Remove your left-hand needle; you have another stitch.
Cast on 15–20 stitches.
Now work a couple of rows in stocking stitch.
Oh dear; that doesn’t look so good! The cast-on edge has become loose. And this is the problem with the knitted cast-on method. The cast-on stitches look nice and neat before you knit into them, then they become loose. Not what you want for any edge that shows.
A quick fix for the loose edge is to knit into the back of the stitches on the first row. This twists the stitches tightening things up.
Personally, I prefer to use a different cast-on for visible edges. I’ll be writing about my favourite general-purpose cast-on soon. Meanwhile, if you’re feeling adventurous you could try a tubular cast-on for a 1×1 rib or 2×2 rib.
I did say that this was the first cast-on method that I learnt. Someone told me to knit into the back of the stitches to improve the edge. Somehow, in my young mind, this became knit into the back of all stitches: I blogged about this here!
When should you use the knitted cast-on method?
You should use the knitted cast-on method when loose stitches will be useful, so:
- Knitting an edge from which you will pick up stitches later.
- Starting lace which needs a loose cast-on.