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.
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).
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.
Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.
- 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.
- Pick up the yarn with your left hand. The working yarn should be wrapped around your index finger, the tail around your thumb.
- Next, go all the way around the loop around the index finger coming from behind.
- Insert the knitting needle into that loop coming from above.
- Get out on the right side of that loop.
- From here, grab the strand towards your thumb coming from below.
- Untwist the loop around the index finger by bending it.
- Pull the yarn through the untwisted loop.
- Remove your index finger from the loop and tighten up the stitch by extending your thumb and index finger from inside.
- Repeat steps 2-9 over and over again until you cast on the required number of stitches.
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.
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.
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.
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!