How to do the German twisted cast on

A step by step tutorial on the German twisted cast-on method with a very detailed slow-motion video so you can get it right the first time

Does your pattern require a super stretchy edge? And now you are looking for a tutorial on the German Twisted cast-on? Well, then look no further! As a local, I’m going to show you this ingenious method step-by-step. And at the end of this article, there’s even a much more simple alternative waiting for you.

close up of a german twisted cast on on the knitting needles

The German twisted cast-on, also known as Old Norwegian cast-on, is a variation of the much more common longtail cast-on. It is knit in a very similar way but results in a much stretchier edge. That’s because the base loops get twisted in the other direction. Since the edge has so much give, it’s a very popular choice for hat or sock patterns.

stretching out the german twisted cast on edge with the fingers

Let’s dive right into it, eh?

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The German twisted cast-on method

profile of the german twisted cast on seen from the edge

The German twisted cast-on is a variation of the longtail cast-on. It also automatically creates the first row but does so with twisted stitches and results in a very stretchy edge.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Start 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.

  2. Pick up the yarn with your left hand. The working yarn should be wrapped around your index finger/hand, the tail around your thumb. It should look a bit like a "slingshot".

    asuming the sling shot position with the yarn wrapped around thumb and index finger
  3. Next, go all the way around the loop around the thumb coming from below.

    going around the loop around the thumb
  4. Insert the needle into that loop coming from above.

    inserting the needle into the loop around the thumb coming from above
  5. Go out on the left side/the side facing towards you.

    exiting with the knitting needle towards the left bottom of the loop
  6. Grab the working yarn/strand towards your index finger coming from behind.

    grabbing the yarn towards the index finger from above
  7. Untwist the loop around your thumb by bending it towards the palm of your hands.

    untwisting the loop by bending the thumb
  8. Pull the yarn through the untwisted loop.

    pulling the yarn through the loop
  9. Remove your thumb from the loop.

    removing the thumb from loop
  10. Tighten up the stitch lightly by extending your thumb and index finger from the inside. This should result in another slingshot position.

    tightening the finished cast-on stitch up by stretching thumb and index finger
  11. Repeat steps 2-10 over and over again until you cast on the required number of stitches.

    repeating the steps for the german twisted cast on

Notes

Be careful as you tighten up the stitches. The stitches should be aligned side by side and not cross each other. Also, if you tighten up too fast, the spacing between the stitches can become a bit unregular.

When you are knitting in the round, consider skipping the slipknot and starting with a simple backward loop instead. This will result in a much smoother transition.

Also, consider starting the project on the wrong side if you are knitting stockinette stitch. If you knit across the first row, your edge will be a bit thicker and have one row of purl stitches. That's because the German twisted cast-on creates knit stitches in the first row as you do it.

the german twisted cast on if you knit across first row instead of purling

An easier method to knit a german twisted cast on

someone holding swatch started with a german twisted cast on

Now, admittedly the German twisted cast-on is a tiny bit more complicated, maybe even the most complicated technique to start a project of them all. It’s quite easy to lose track, and then you end up wrapping and turning in the wrong direction. But there is actually a super simple solution.

In fact, it’s so simple every knitting beginner can do it.

*drumroll*

The German twisted cast-on produces the EXACT same edge as the single cast-on. The only difference is that the latter requires you to knit across one row while the German twisted cast-on creates that first row as you go.

comparing the german twisted cast on with the single cast on
Top: German twisted cast-on | Bottom: single cast-on

And, I guess, this explains why this technique is so complicated. You are doing two things at the same time. But you can easily deconstruct the technique (something you also do with a 2-needle cast-on).

Step 1: Cast on the required number of stitches with a single cast on (so just a row of twisted loops around your needle).

a single cast on on the knitting needles with various tools in the background

Step 2: Knit across one row.

the german twisted cast on on the knitting needles and some tools in the background

The only difference you might notice is that it’s a bit less stretchy – depending on how tight you pull those loops as you cast on. You can combat that by doing it around one or two needle sizes larger if you really want a super stretchy edge.

Reading tip: Here’s my tutorial on how to cast on stitches for beginners.

Casting on purlwise

someone holding up the stretchy edge of ribbing with german twisted cast on purl

Now, as I said above, you will create knit stitches as your first row. That’s great for garter stitch or stockinette stitch. But what if you want to knit a 2x2rib? In this case, you have to alternate between casting on knit and purl stitches. This means you have to learn the German Twisted Purl cast-on as well.

It’s a bit complicated but it will allow you to create perfectly mirror-inverted stitches and thus an edge that is in pattern. A great choice for advanced knitters!

Here’s my full tutorial on the German twisted purl cast-on

How much yarn do you need for a German twisted cast-on?

The German Twisted cast-on uses quite a lot of yarn. To calculate the yarn requirements, you can employ all the common methods for the longtail cast-on. A very reliable method is the wrap method.

Simply wrap yarn around your knitting needle. For a medium-sized project, you will need about 2.5 as many wraps as you want to cast on stitches. So, if you want to cast on 20 stitches, you will need around 50 wraps + a sizeable tail for weaving in later on.

If you want it super precise and you need a lot more stitches (say 400 or so), then I recommend casting on 10 or 20 stitches. Unravel them right away and measure how much yarn you needed. And then use simple math to find out how much yarn you need in total:

  1. Divide the length you measured with the number of stitches you cast on with (e.g 8 inches / 20 stitches = 0.4)
  2. Multiply the resulting factor times the stitches you need to cast on and add 5-8 inches for weaving in later on. (e.g 0.4*80 st = 32 inches)

Why is it called German Twisted Cast-On?

close-up of the edge of the german twisted cast on

Quite honestly, I have no clue. The funny thing is, this cast-on method is barely known in Germany. In fact, you will only find it referred to as Verschränkter Deutscher Anschlag, which is a direct translation of German Twisted Cast-on and makes little sense. After all, nobody in England will call themselves an English-style knitter. They simply call themselves knitters.

Or take German Short Rows, we just call them short rows here in Germany. My only guess is that it is a mistranslation and/or misattribution. The standard longtail cast-on is called Kreuzanschlag – cross cast-on. Maybe whoever made the method popular learned it from a German and kind of made things up from there. After all, the technique is based on twisted stitches. But that’s just a guess.

Anyway, that’s how to do the German twisted cast-on. Feel free to ask your questions in the comment section below.

how to do the german twisted cast on step by step for beginners

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