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?
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- 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.