A step-by-step tutorial on the Italian tubular cast-on method including a slow-motion video
Are you looking for a super neat and stretchy cast-on for your ribbings? Well, then the Italian cast-on method might just be what you are looking for. It’s super simple to knit and will create a particularly well-balanced and almost invisible edge when you pair it with a 1×1 rib stitch.
In fact, I believe there’s probably no better way to cast on ribbings for beginners. The repeat is just so simple and you will quickly fall into a rhythm that you may even forget you are actually casting on here. And the results obviously speak for themselves. The edge is just so crisp and invisible.
Anyway, let’s dive right into it. Oh, and don’t forget to check out my tutorial on casting on for beginners if you are looking for alternatives that are just as easy.
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- Bring the yarn into the slingshot position the way you would hold it for a longtail cast-on. So the sizeable tail is wrapped around your thumb and the working yarn around your index finger.
- Start the Italian cast-on with a simple twisted loop.
- Bring the needle around the yarn connected to your index finger coming from above & behind.
- Grab the yarn towards your thumb from above.
- Get out the way you came and tighten up. This will create a (pseudo) purl stitch with a visible little bump around its base.
- Bring the needle around the yarn connected to your thumb coming from above & behind.
- Grab the yarn towards your index finger coming from above.
- Get out the way you came and tighten up. This will create a (pseudo) knit stitch.
- Repeat steps 3-8 until you cast on the desired number of stitches.
- Turn your work around clockwise with the yarn held below the needles.
Technically speaking, this step finishes the Italian cast-on. But since you need to pay attention in the first row, I listed one more step.
- Knit one row of *ktbl, p1*.
This cast-on will create twisted knit stitches and you need to untwist them in the first row. After this first row, you can continue knitting across in the regular 1x1 rib stitch repeat.
If you don't want to knit the first round with twisted knit stitches, then yo have to change the way you cast on the purl stitches. In this case, you have to grab the yarn connected to your index thumb (step 4) coming from below. The result will be an almost similar edge but maybe slightly less invisible and neat.
The Italian cast-on in the round
You can, of course, also use the Italian cast-on for projects knit in the round – either on double-pointed needles or using circular needles and the magic loop technique. In this case, I urge you to follow the exact same steps I showed you above and only join in the round after you finished the first row flat.
Why? Unlike the German twisted cast-on or, say, the knitted cast-on, the Italian cast-on doesn’t create a very stable first row. So, when you want to join things in the round, it can be extremely difficult to avoid your edge getting all twisted. And the worst part, since you just wove the yarn around its axis, if you twist things, you will actually unravel stitches.
So, for the sake of your sanity, cast on, knit one row flat, and then join in the round. Later on, you simply have to graft one stitch to bridge the gap. In my tutorial for the tubular cast-on (which is actually a variation of this technique), I show you how to do this.
You can also use a variation of the Italian cast-on for circular projects that start in the middle. This alternative is often called the pinhole cast-on but essentially works the same.