How to knit the longtail purl cast on

How to cast on purlwise with the longtail cast on. A step by step tutorial with close-up pictures and a video.

Have you ever looked very closely at your longtail cast on? It’s a great cast on technique, but if you look very closely at the first row of stitches you are creating, then they appear like knit stitches. The problem: When you turn the needles around to knit your first row, these will appear like purl stitches. So, when you knit across, you will be creating a garter stitch edge.

A longtail purl cast on on the needles

This can be nice because it prevents curling in stockinette stitch (a bit at least), but it doesn’t look as neat. And when it comes to ribbings, it suddenly not as perfect anymore. In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to do the longtail cast on purlwise.

When you alternate this new technique with the standard way, you get the basis for the perfect ribbings.

Tip: Looking for more variations of the long tail cast on? Try the 2-needle cast on for an even stretchier edge. Or the German twisted purl cast on for another in pattern option!

How to cast on purl stitches

To prepare, you need to set aside a little tail. I wrote a bit more about how much yarn you need for a long tail cast on here. As a rule of thumb, you can guestimate it 4 times as much yarn as your work will be wide.

The working yarn connecting to the ball should be on your left and the tail on your right.

Wrapping the yarn around your hand in preparation for the slip knot and cast on purlwise

Step 1: Wrap the working yarn around your pinky finger, bring it across the back of your hand, bring it under your stretched thumb and wrap it around clockwise once creating a nice loop here. I describe this in greater detail on my cast on tutorial for beginners. The extra length of yarn/tail should be on your left exiting your hand from the thumb.

Step 2: Create a slip knot.

A slip knot on the needles

Step 3: Bring your needles/yarn into the “slingshot” position.

insert the needle from above and behind

Step 4: Insert the needle into the loop around your index finger from above and behind.

grab the yarn around the thumb from below

Step 5: Insert the needle into the loop around your thumb from below.

pull the yarn through the loop

Step 6: Grab the yarn and pull it through the loop around your index finger.

Removing the index finger and tightening up the loop

Step 7: Remove your index finger from the loop and tighten up.

create a second slingshot

Repeat steps 3-6 until you have got the desired amount of stitches on your needle. Combine it with the standard cast on as needed to alternate knit and purl cast-on stitches.


What kind of cast on stitch your pattern requires, also depends on if you are knitting flat or in the round. Remember, when you are knitting flat, you are turning the project around. So, for a knit stitch in the first row, you will need to cast on a purl stitch and vice versa. For knitting in the round, this is not needed.
A purl stockinette stitch cast on edge
How the perfect cast on edge for stockinette stitch should look like

Also, here’s one more important thing to consider. If you are knitting stockinette stitch, by that logic, you would have to actually cast on purlwise to get an edge that reflects the pattern. In reality, you can also use the standard long-tail cast on and start with a purl row. This would mean you start on the “wrong side”, which you will ignore after that initial row.

This obviously doesn’t really work for knitting in the round. But here you only need to cast on purlwise if you need purl stitches.

Anyway That’s how to cast on purlwise. Leave a comment in case you have any questions.

how to knit the longtail purl cast on

3 thoughts on “How to knit the longtail purl cast on”

  1. Thank you so much for this! I have always wondered how to do a purl cast on and had begun to wonder if such a thing even existed! Thank you for your usual super clear, thorough instructions! (All my books – except for Principles of Knitting – have now arrived, so I’m going to have a great Christmas reading up on everything you’ve suggested. Hope you have a good Christmastime, and keep well.) All good wishes.


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