German Twisted Purl cast on

A step-by-step tutorial on how to do the German twisted cast on purlwise. A smart and stretchy method if you want to knit ribbings.

Do you want to knit perfect ribbings with a super stretchy edge? Well, then you should consider casting on knit and purl stitches. You can do this by doing the German twisted cast-on purlwise mixed with the standard repeat and this tutorial is all about it.

The “problem” with the German twisted cast-on is that it creates a row of knit stitches in the same breath. And if you knit across it in the first row, you create a tiny edge in Garter stitch. You can easily fix that by purling across the first row and starting on the wrong side.

a knitted swatch started with german twisted purl cast on for a neat and stretchy edge for ribbing
A swatch in ribbing where I cast on knit and purl stitches with a German Twisted cast on

But what if you don’t want to knit stockinette stitch but maybe a 2×2 rib stitch? Then it doesn’t matter on which side you start as half of your stitches will always end up having the wrong base stitch in the actual first row (aka the stitch you created through the German twisted cast-on).

someone holding up the stretchy edge of ribbing with german twisted purl cast on
The edge will be super stretchy

So, if you want a super neat edge that is both stretchy AND in pattern, there’s no way around alternating between casting on knit and purl stitches.

Let’s show you how to do that.

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How to do the German twisted cast on purlwise

close-up of the edge of a german twisted cast on purl shown with a swatch of 3x3 ribbing

The German twisted cast-on purlwise mirrors the instruction for the standard repeat to create a purl stitch in the first row. So, when you want to knit ribbing or any other combination of knit and purl stitches, you may want to alternate between a normal stitch and casting on purlwise.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Start the German Twisted cast on purlwise with a slip knot around your knitting needles leaving a tail that is around 3-4 times as long as your project will be wide.

    starting the german twisted cast on with a simple slip knot around the knitting needle
  2. Pick up the yarn with your left hand. The working yarn should be wrapped around your index finger, the tail around your thumb.

    creating a sling shot with the working yarn around the index finger and the tail around the thumb
  3. Next, go all the way around the loop around the index finger coming from behind.

    going all the way around the loop around the index finger coming from below
  4. Insert the knitting needle into that loop coming from above.

    inserting the knitting needle into the loop coming from above
  5. Get out on the right side of that loop.

    getting out towards the right top of the loop
  6. From here, grab the strand towards your thumb coming from below.

    grabbing the yarn towards the tumb comming from below with the knitting needle
  7. Untwist the loop around the index finger by bending it.

    untwisting the loop around the index finger by bending it
  8. Pull the yarn through the untwisted loop.

    pulling the yarn through the untwisted loop
  9. Remove your index finger from the loop and tighten up the stitch by extending your thumb and index finger from inside.


    tightening up the german twisted cast on purl stitch with index and thumb
  10. Repeat steps 2-9 over and over again until you cast on the required number of stitches.

    repeating these steps over and over again for the german twisted cast on purl

Notes

The German twisted cast-on purlwise will create exact mirrored copies of the standard repeat. As it's a bit more complicated to knit, it probably only makes sense if you want to knit a combination of knit and purl stitches. Otherwise, you can also do the normal version and start with a row of knit stitches for the exact same edge.

Let’s take a look at a couple of swatches so you can see why doing the German Twisted cast on purlwise matters.

First of all, if you follow the standard repeat (so casting on stitches through the loop around your thumb), and then knit across one row, your edge will look like this. You can clearly see the row of purl stitches with their characteristic little bumps.

the german twisted cast on if you knit across first row instead of purling
Standard German twisted cast on. The first row was knitted across all stitches.

If you purl across the first row, then the same swatch will look like this and it is in pattern. While there is still an edge with horizontal stitches, there is no third tier with these purl bumps.

someone holding swatch started with a german twisted cast on
Standard German twisted cast on. The first row was purled across all stitches.

Now, let’s see what happens if you stick to the standard method and knit a 3×3 rib compared to alternating between doing the German twisted cast-on purlwise for 3 stitches and then 3 stitches with the standard technique.

comparing two swatches of ribbing with different ways to do the german twisted cast on
Top: Alternating between casting on knitwise and purlwise | Bottom: Just knitwise

You can clearly see how the purl stitches have a little V at their base in the bottom swatch. Mind you, the difference is not going to win you the Nobel Prize. Still, I personally believe it’s those little details that let something look handmade as opposed to self-made. And this is just one of those tiny little things you can adjust for an overall neater look.

Of course, if you find that it doesn’t matter all that much, you don’t have to do it. You can also cast on the regular way. You can also achieve a similar effect with the longtail purl cast on. It’s entirely up to you!

Anyway, that’s how to do the German twisted purl cast on. Comment below if you still have any questions.

how to do the german twisted cast on purlwise

3 thoughts on “German Twisted Purl cast on”

  1. Thank you so much for this! I’ve often wondered if there was a purl version of the German Twisted cast on. I started a sock test knit today and was able, slowly, to use the purl version for the cuff of my sock. It took several tries to get it right but I persevered. Thank you again!

    Reply
  2. Thanks for this! I’ve done the Alternating Longtail Cast On for scarf bottoms with rib patterns (like 8 x8 rib patterns), but I think the alternating the German Twisted cast on for say the beginning of a ribbed hat would be stretchier.

    I have been trying to create an Italian cast on in the round for a single-color brioche hat, but so far keep having to rip it out. I’m starting on straight needles, then would move to 16″ circulars–but I can’t get it right on the straight needles either. Any advice?

    Reply

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