How to cast on knitting with two needles

A step-by-step tutorial on casting on stitches with 2 needles (including a video) to achieve a super stretchy edge.

Does your pattern ask for a two-needle cast-on? But you only know how to do it with one? Well, then you came to the exact right place because this tutorial is all about it. I included a lot of pictures and even a video so you can learn how to cast on knitting with two needles the easy way.

someone holding up a two needle cast on with their fingers

Casting on stitches with two needles instead of one will result in a much stretchier edge. So, it will be perfect for lace projects, a 2×2 rib stitch, and similar knitting stitch patterns. It’s a bit more complicated to do, but it’s worth investing the extra time because it does not only create a very neat and sturdy edge, it also is very easy to knit across in the first row.

swatch in stockinette stitch with a two needle cast on edge lying on a wooden board

But there is more. This tutorial comes with a simpler version (scroll all the way down) that is also quite stretchy and not as complicated as the advanced technique. It can be a beautiful alternative for easier patterns where you still want an extra bit of give.

Reading tip: Check out my tutorial on the German Twisted Cast on which is even stretchier. Or my tutorial on the single cast on – the perhaps easiest method for beginners.

someone showing the super stretchy edge the two needle cast on creates

Important disambiguation: There are many different ways to cast on stitches using two needles, in particular, the knitted cast-on. Judy’s magic cast-on is another example. These techniques, however, do not result in a stretchy edge.

With that being said, here’s how to cast on knitting with two needles!

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Instructions: Two-needle cast-on

performing the two needle cast on with teal cotton yarn

The two-needle cast-on is a variation of the standard long tail cast-on (also sometimes called half-hitch cast-on). So, if you know how to do that, you already know half the story.

You are basically separating the knot created by the half-hitch from the loop you will knit through in the first row. You will, however, need a second knitting needle that is around 2 sizes smaller than the one you want to knit with.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Start with a standard slip knot around the bigger needle leaving a tail that is around 5 times as long as your work should be wide.
    starting the two needle cast on with a simple slip knot around only one needle
  2. Pick up the smaller needle and hold it parallel to the bigger needle trapping the front tail in between the two needles and holding the yarn the way you would for a normal long tail cast-on (so the working yarn is wrapped around your index finger & the tail around your thumb).

    picking up the second needle so it traps the yarn in between and holding the yarn like for a normal long tail cast on
  3. Insert both needles into the loop around your thumb.

    inserting both needles into the loop around the thumb at the same time
  4. Grab the yarn towards your index finger combing from above and pull it through using only the upper/bigger needle.

    picking up the yarn towards the index finger from above with only the upper of the two needles
  5. Pick up the loop around your thumb using only the smaller needle and remove your thumb.

    picking up the loop around the thumb with only the lower needle
  6. Pull the resulting stitch tight by stretching out your thumb and index finger.

    pulling the stitch tight around the two needles with index finger and thumb
  7. Twist two strands by turning the needles around by 360°.

    twisting the needle around by 360 degrees by going behind and below the yarn
    As an alternative, you can also twist the yarns with your left hand (you need to let go, twist, and pick the yarn up again).
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 until you cast on the desired amount of stitches.

    repeating the steps over and over again for the two needle cast on

    Remove the smaller knitting needle once you finished and then start knitting the normal way.

Notes

For a neat edge, I recommend starting on the wrong side, meaning you purl the first row as this cast on creates knit stitches. Because when you turn the work around, the stitches will appear like purl stitches.

You can toy around by using different needle sizes as the second needle to create even stretchier (or less stretchy) edges.

An easier way to cast on stitches with two needles

casting on stitches with two needles - someone holding it up with their fingers

The version above is admittedly a bit more complicated. So if your hands are not as nimble, you can also treat the two needles as one and use the wider circumference to give your edge that extra bit of give. In short, do a normal long tail cast on around two needles instead of one (in fact, that’s the way I teach it to begin with).

Step 1: Hold both needles parallel and start with a slip knot. You can use the exact same needles you want to knit your project with. Leave a tail that is at least 5 times as long as your projects should be wide (here’s how to calculate the yarn requirements in a more accurate way).

starting the cast onw ith a slip knot around two needles held parallel

Step 2: Pick up the yarn the way I showed you above.

holding the yarn like a sling shot with the tail going around the thumb and the working yarn around the index finger

Step 3: Insert both needles into the loop around your thumb from below.

inserting both needles into the loop around the thumb

Step 4: Grab the yarn towards your index finger coming from above.

grabbing the yarn towards the index finger from above

Step 5: Pull the yarn through the loop.

pulling the yarn through the loop around the thumb

Step 6: Pull out your thumb (so just bend it), and tighten up by stretching the yarn out with your thumb/index finger.

pull the stitch tight with the index finger and thumb

Step 7: Pull the needle towards you to create a new “slingshot”.

creating another sling shot to continue casting on around two needles

Step 8: Repeat steps 3-7 until you cast on the required number of stitches.

repeating the steps over and over again to cast on stitches with two needles

Step 9: Carefully remove the second needle and start knitting the normal way.

The cast-on stitches will look a bit wonky/loose as you knit across them. The fabric will even out after you covered a couple of rows and stretched your work in progress a bit.

the edge you create by casting on with two needles as shown on a swatch in stockinette stitch

Make sure that you don’t accidentally catch the yarn with only one needle. This can happen when you pull the yarn tight and don’t pay attention or your needle tips are not parallel.

close up of the edge created by casting on stitches with two needles

Tip: For this second alternative you can also toy around with the size of the second needle. You could even only use one needle (but 2 or 3 sizes bigger) instead if holding two needles at the same time is a bit too difficult for you.

Anyway, that’s how to cast on knitting with two needles. Comment below in case you have any questions.

how to cast on stitches with two needles - step by step tutorial for beginners with two versions

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