A step by step tutorial on the knitted cast on and everything you need to know about it
The knitted cast-on is perhaps the most versatile cast-on technique in knitting. You can not only use it to begin your project, you can also use it to increase the stitch count at the beginning of a row mid-project. A lot of bind-off techniques, like the i-cord or the picot bind off, also make use of it.
In this tutorial, I want to show you how to knit the knitted cast on step by step. I will also show you some fun variations, like the knitted cast on purlwise, and how to calculate yarn requirements.
This technique creates a somewhat looser edge than the standard longtail cast on. Depending on the yarn and your needle size, it tends to form little ornamental holes. For some patterns, this can look awesome, while for others a longtail cast-on might be a bit better.
Good to know: Sometimes this technique is wrongly called 2-needle cast on as you do indeed require a second needle. Read this tutorial on how to cast on with two needles in case you are looking for a super stretch edge. Some knitters also confuse it with the cable cast-on which is done almost the same way but is less stretchy.
Anyay, let’s dive right into it, eh?
Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.
Knitted cast on instructions
A step by step tutorial on the knitted cast on. A super easy technique for beginners that basically boils down to knitting a knit stitch without dropping it and slipping the knitted stitch back on the left needle over and over again. Here are the instructions:
- Step: You begin with a simple slip knot.
- Step: Then, you insert your right needle into the slip knot from left to right and hold the working yarn in the back.
- Step: Wrap the working yarn around the right needle counter-clockwise.
- Step: Pull the yarn through the loop.
- Step: Now, don't drop the slip knot loop as you would when knitting a normal knit stitch. Instead, keep it on the needle and slip the just knitted stitch back on the left needle.
Important: Make sure to slip the stitch beyond the taper/tip of the needle and don't just keep it on the taper. Because then you will tighten up the stitch too much as you continue and will have troubles knitting the next row, or even pushing the cast on stitches further down the needle.
- Step: Insert the right needle into the slipped stitch from left to right, and repeat steps 2-5 until you have got the desired amount of stitches on your needle.
The resulting knitted cast on will be moderately stretchy. If you want a slightly stretchier edge, then consider using a needle size bigger for just the cast on. This, however, will also create bigger holes in the first row.
The big advantage of the knitted cast-on is the fact that you don't need to figure out how much yarn you need (like you always have to do for a long tail cast on) as all stitches are directly cast on from the working yarn. So, if you are struggling with the latter, then this could be a very viable option for you. Another advantage is that you end up with the yarn on the right side. You don't need to turn your project to start the first row, and all stitches will appear just the way you cast them on.
Still, how much yarn do you need for a knitted cast on?
You can calculate the yarn you need for a knitted cast on with one easy formula. Wrap the yarn around your knitting needle. You will need 2 wraps per stitch. So, if you want to cast on 30 stitches, you would need 60 wraps.
Casting on stitches in the middle of a project
Just like the backward loop increase you can use this technique to cast on stitches in the middle of a project. Whereas the former only works on the left end of a row, the latter can be used at the very beginning of a row.
In this case, you can skip the slip knot (step 1 above).
Step 1: Knit one stitch as normal, but don’t drop the stitch.
Step 2: Instead, lift the stitch back on the left needle.
.Step 3: Knit another stitch into the slipped stitch.
Continue repeating steps 1-3 until you have got the desired amount of stitches on your left needle
You can use the same technique to cast on stitches in the middle of a row as well. This will create a visible hole and will bunch out the fabric a bit. For some stitches (like bobbles) this can be the desired effect.
Knitted cast on purlwise
The fun thing about the knitted cast on is, like I already said its versatility. You can use it anywhere in your project. On top of that, you can use the underlying principle (so knitting a stitch and slipping it back on the left needle to knit into it again) and combine it with any other basic knit stitch – like the classic purl stitch.
The best part about the knitted cast on purlwise? It’s actually faster than the regular version, as your needle is already in the right position to purl as you slip the stitch. But let’s have a look.
Step 1: Create a slip knot.
Step 2: Insert the left needle into the loop from right to left and hold the yarn in front.
Step 3: And purl one stitch (here’s how to knit the purl stitch in case you need to catch up).
Step 4: Slip the purl stitch back onto the left needle.
Step 5: Your needle is already in the correct position to purl another stitch.
Repeat steps 2-4 as you see fit
Naturally, you can also do the knitted cast on purlwise in the middle of a project. In this case, you can skip step 1 and purl directly into the first stitch of a row.
So, where’s the difference? Well, obviously this cast on creates purl stitches and you can use it for patterns that require purl stitches on the right side. In fact, if you are knitting something like a moss stitch (or any other pattern that alternates knit and purls), you can cast on alternating knit stitches and purl stitches as well.
You might have already guessed it. You can also do the knitted cast with a ktbl (knit through the back loop) or a ptbl (purl through the back loop). In this case, you’ll have to knit, quite obviously, through the back loop, but the rest remains the same.
Stitchwise, the edge will look a bit more rounded and actually a bit neater (there will still be small holes, though smaller). The big difference lies in the stretchiness. Do note then that those back loop stitches will be considerably less stretchy.
Further reading: How to do the single cast on – the easiest method for beginners.
9 thoughts on “How to do the knitted cast on”
This was great and reassuring. Haven’t knitted in a while, do to on the job injury lowering my head has become challenging. But love to still read and make simple things. Great article.
glad you like it. I sometimes knit lying flat on the couch with my arms raised. Maybe that is something you could look into 😛
I TINK IT WOLD BE MC ESIER OR BEGINNERS I TOSE SOWING OW TO DO IT SED LRGER NEEDLES ND LRGER YRN
I assume you were trying to say that it would be much easier for a beginner if I showed you using a larger needle and larger yarn.
I must say I kind of disagree. 4-5mm needles and a worsted yarn are perfect for beginners and the kind of needle size I recommend. Besides, as I am using a macro lens and zoom in, the actually size on the screen wouldn’T be much different – except I’d cut out all hand movements – which I am not sure is all that beneficial either.
Now, I agree, that some people would probably still like to see it a bit bigger and magnified. But that’s why I record all my videos in Full HD so you can use the fullscreen mode.
I make prayer shawls for my church. I cast on 60 stitches. When I bind off, that end is shorter than the other end. Any suggestions?
Probably because either your bind off or your cast on is too tight. Without knowing what techniques you use, it will be quite impossible to say how to improve that, Ann.
I always enjoy your tutorials. I learn a lot and you explain the different stitches to use very well so that I even can follow you!
I’m doing a fingerless gloves pattern that says to “Cast on 5 stitches. Knit to the end of the row. Next row: Purl, Cast on 5 stitches over the stitches you binded off.” How in the heck do I knit to the end of the row of the stitches I just cast on?? I can’t find anything anywhere and I’m in tears. 😪 can anyone help me?
Eh, i am not sure I understand your question. You just carry on knitting after your knitted/backward loop cast-on or whatever they ask you to do. I have youtube video where you can knit fingerless gloves along with me. maybe check that out.
Other than that, please contact the respective designer if you have questions regarding their pattern.