Knitted cast-on method – a right-handed knitting tutorial

Insert right-hand needle through new stitch

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.

You’ll be pleased to know that I knit right-handed for teaching purposes! So, here we go … the following explanations and images are for those who knit right-handed, that is, your right hand is your working hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and you move your stitches from your left to right needle as you knit. If you knit left-handed, then read How to Knit tutorial: the knitted cast-on method (for knitting left-handed).

Starting the knitted cast-on

There are a few cast-on methods which 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 left hand, hold the other needle in your right 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 right hand.

Step 0: Place slip knot on left-hand needle.

Insert your right-hand needle into the slip knot on your left-hand needle. You’ll need to hold onto the yarn tail otherwise you’ll be chasing the slip knot around!

Step 1: Insert right-hand needle through slip knot

Holding the yarn behind your needles, wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle clockwise (when viewed from the non-pointed end). This means that you move the yarn forward under your right-hand needle, then pass it back over the same needle (the same movement as when making a knit stitch).

Step 2: Move yarn clockwise round right-hand needle

Use your right-hand needle to pull a loop through the loop of the slip knot (again, the same movement as when making a knit stitch).

Step 3: Pull new loop through slip knot

Keep pulling this loop out until you can move the left-hand needle forward over it …

Step 4: Lengthen new loop

and into the loop. Remove your right-hand needle; you have two stitches!

Now make another stitch

Insert your right-hand needle into the newest stitch on your left-hand needle. With practice, you’ll be able to transfer the new stitch from your right-hand to your left-hand needle and position the right-hand needle ready to make a new stitch without removing it.

Step 6: Insert right-hand needle through new stitch

Holding the yarn behind your needles, wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle clockwise (when viewed from the non-pointed end). In other words, you move the yarn forward under your right-hand needle, then pass it back over the same needle.

Step 7: Move yarn clockwise round right-hand needle

Use your right-hand needle to pull a loop through the stitch (the same movement as when making a knit stitch).

Step 8: Pull new loop through stitch

Keep pulling this loop out until you can move the left-hand needle forward over it and into the loop. Remove your right-hand needle; you have another stitch.

And repeat!

Cast on 15 – 20 stitches.

Cast-on 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.

Step 10: Cast-on stitches and two rows of stocking stitch

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.

Step 11: How to tighten up a loose cast-on edge

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:

  1. Knitting an edge from which you will pick up stitches later;
  2. Starting lace which needs a loose cast-on.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Lynn Astill

    If you knit into the back of the cast on row does this become your first row, so you start your pattern on row 2?

    1. Being Knitterly

      Hi Lynne, if you knit into the back of the cast-on stitches this is your first row. The next row is row 2 from the pattern.
      If pattern row 1 has both knit and purl stitches, for example, a rib, you can knit into the back of the knit stitches and purl into the back of the purl stitches. That way you will tighten the cast-on edge and maintain the pattern.
      However, it would be better to use the cable cast-on method, then you can work the first row exactly as in the pattern.