Stitch: Cast On


A cast on stitch involves using the basic form of the knit stitch to create a new stitch on a knitting needle. This occurs at the outset of the project but can also occur in the midst of a project. Cast on techniques vary in terms of their appearance, their stretchiness, and their ability to be provisional so that the edge can later become available as live stitches.

  • There are innumerable methods for doing this, each with distinct advantages and disadvantages relative to the project at hand.
  • While most knitters have a favorite cast on stitch that is their “go to,” it often gets this status because it is flexible enough to look good in a variety of contexts, easy to recall, and easy to work.

Factors to consider in selecting your cast on:

  • Will it be a finished edge for the project or do you later need to be able to pick up stitches along this edge, or transfer these as live stitches at a later time?
  • Do you want the appearance to mirror the appearance of the bind off (e.g., scarves)?
  • Will the cast on be incorporated into a particular style of edging (e.g., ribbed, rolled, braided) that requires the cast on row be more, or less, stretchy?

Backwards Loop Cast On

Any cast on stitch, in its most elemental form is a Yarn Over which, with a twist, becomes either the Backwards Loop or E-loop Cast On. While some knitters conflate these two, the essential difference is the direction each faces–whatever you choose to call the stitch, keep in mind that it can be right-slanting or left-slanting. It is also sometimes called the Thumb Cast On.

Long-tail Cast On

When working the Long-Tail Cast On, you essentially are working the Backwards Loop cast on and the first row of knitting in the same stitch. The tendency for the fabric to roll towards the knitted side of the project occurs when it is followed with a knit row because this cast on actually already includes a row of knit coupled within the cast on. It is a rather stable cast on which both makes a strong edge and makes knitting the next row easier than knitting into a simple Backwards Loop Cast On; it also tends towards being a very tight cast on with little give so it is less suitable for a ribbed edging. Since you are working the tail and the working yarn at the same time, the tail will be located at the end of the cast on row once it is completed. For this reason, many find it challenging to determine just how much yarn will be needed to complete the entire cast on. One general rule is 1″ of yarn per expected circumference/length of the finished cast on row plus 12″ but this can be affected obviously by the size of the needle.

Cable Cast On

The Cable Cast On is considered to be a slightly stretchy cast on suitable for lace and ribbing; a distinct advantage with this method is that one does not need to predetermine the amount of yarn to complete the cast on row. The tail hangs at the beginning of the row.

Knitted Cast On

A cast on which works for virtually any project, it is  can be an especially good choice for certain yarns which are more complicated to work with due to bulkiness or stiffness.

Provisional Cast On

The Provisional Cast On is used to keep live stitches available on the cast on edge so that later in the project either the two ends can be joined together or so additional knitting can occur on this edge.

Old Norwegian Cast On

This is a simple, stretchy alternative cast on, in many ways similar to long tail cast on. Great for ribbings. It provides an extra bit of yarn in each cast on stitch to make it stretchier than the typical long tail cast on.

Tubular Cast On

Recommended Cast Ons in My Designs (if not listed, your choice)