How to knit the Turkish Cast-on

A step-by-step tutorial on knitting the Turkish cast-on – perfect for toe-up socks – on circulars or dpns.

Are you looking for a super easy and invisible way to start your socks toe-up? Then the Turkish cast-on could be your new favorite method! It’s so simple and yet so versatile I would actually say it should be the second cast-on technique a beginner should learn.

someone holding a swatch started with the turkish cast-on

And the best part: you can use the Turkish cast-on as a provisional cast-on as well – perfect for any project where you want to knit in both directions OR have a matching edge on both ends (see below).

Anyway, let’s dive right into it, eh?

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Instructions: How to knit the Turkish cast-on

close-up of a knitted swatch started with the turkish cast-on

The Turkish cast-on works best with circular needles - combined with the magic loop technique. Then, it's super easy and super neat. Depending on your individual tension you may go down one needle size.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  1. Start with a simple slip knot and slip it to either end of the needle. Leave a short tail long enough for weaving in ends later on.

    starting with a simple slip knot around one end of the circular needles
  2. Hold both needles parallel. The slip knot should be sitting on the top needle.

    holding both needles parallel with the slip knot on the top needle
  3. Wrap the working around both needles counter-clockwise once.

    wrapping the working yarn around both needles counter-clockwise
  4. Continue wrapping the yarn around both needles counter-clockwise. Each wrap will later result in 2 stitches. So if you need to cast on 20 stitches, wrap the yarn around 10 times - not counting the initial slip knot.

    continuing to wrap the yarn around the needle
  5. Once you have enough wraps, turn your needles around clockwise. Make sure that you don't accidentally unravel one wrap as you do so.

    having turned around the needle by 180°
  6. Slide out the bottom needle. The lower portion of the loops should be secured by the cord.

    pulling out the bottom needle so the stitches rest of the cord
  7. Using the now free bottom needle, knit a simple knit stitch into the first loop.

    knitting a knit stitch into the first loop
  8. Continue knitting across until you've knitted one stitch into each loop.

    continuing to knit across the first needle
  9. Turn your work around and carefully drop the slip knot and unravel it.

    undoing the slip knot at the beginning of the second needle
  10. Continue knitting across in pattern.

    continuing to knit across the second needle in pattern to finish the turkish cast-on

Turkish Cast-on on dpns

someone showing how to do the turkish cast-on with dpns

Quite a lot of readers have been asking me: Can you knit the Turkish cast-on with double-pointed needles? And the answer is: yes and no. Yes, you can knit it with dpns but it will be a little bit trickier.

To facilitate things, you might do the wraps a little bit looser and use rather sharp dpns.

Step 1: Start with a slip knot and wrap the yarn around but leave a little gap in between the two needles. Use your slip knot as a spacer.

wrapping the yarn around with a gap i between

Step 2: Turn your needles around and pull out the bottom needle slightly.

turning around the needles and pulling out the bottom needle slightly

Step 3: Pick up your third double-pointed knitting needle and knit across the first needle. This WILL be fiddly. Knit close to the taper and wiggle your needle through.

starting knitting across the first dpn close to the taper

Step 4: After 4 or 5 stitches, join in your fourth double-pointed knitting needle. This is not entirely necessary but you may notice that it gets incredibly difficult to knit across.

joining in the new dpn in the middle

Step 5: Turn your work around once you’ve finished knitting across the first half of the stitches, and then continue in the round as normal. Join in your fourth needle in the middle again.

Note: In most cases, I would say it’s easier and neater to knit the first two or three rounds with circulars and then switch to double-pointed knitting needles as you put too much stress on the stitches and this typically results in a less-than-perfect stitch definition.

Using the Turkish cast-on as a provisional cast-on

There are many ways to knit a provisional cast-on. My favorite method uses a crochet hook. That being said, you can also use the Turkish cast-on, if you want to knit in the other direction later on.

someone using the turkish cast-on as an easy provisional cast-on

The steps remain the exact same. The only difference is that you don’t knit across the second needle. Instead, you simply unravel the slip knot, turn your work around, and purl across the wrong side.

For larger projects, you may want to slip the provisional stitches to a spare cord or a stitch holder. And later on, you simply knit across that part. Easy as that.

You could also start your project like that and bind off those provisional stitches straight away. That way, you will be able to achieve the exact same edge on both sides. Super neat and super easy!

Differences compared to the Magic Cast-on

You might wonder where is the difference between the Turkish cast-on and (Judy’s) Magic cast-on, right? Well, structurally, there is no difference in the end. The magic cast-on creates the first row in the same breath, while the Turkish cast-on basically just creates one weft/row.

Basically, this means, at the very point where you unravel your slip knot, you will have the exact same structure on your knitting needles as you would if you did the Magic cast-on. It entirely boils down to preferences, and – depending on your individual style and tension – one or the other may yield neater results.

Anyway, that’s how to knit the Turkish Cast-on. Comment below if you have any questions

how to knit the turkish cast-on - a step by step tutorial for beginners

7 thoughts on “How to knit the Turkish Cast-on”

  1. Very helpful! Only one suggestion: at your Step 6 near the top, instead of “remove” the needle, direct us to pull the bottom needle through, leaving its stitches on the cord part of that end & freeing up the needle to knit the upcoming row. Thanks to your excellent photos I was able to puzzle this out, but you might want to adjust the how-to wording for those of us who learn by reading directions. Thanks for a great Turkish Cast-On tutorial!

    • The only reason you would do that is if you are knitting socks two at a time or so. Other than that, I would say it’s plain wrong/cumbersome/dangerous.

  2. Hey Norman! First of all, thank you for providing easily understandable instructions on how to use the turkish cast on. I’m trying to knit a pattern where I have to cast on stitches using the turkish cast on but in the middle of my work and I’m a little confused on how to do it because I don’t know how to continue the pattern correctly if I have to turn around my work several times. I’m not even sure if I’m supposed to turn around my work, because I feel like the purl stitches aren’t lining up as they are supposed to. Unfortunately I have no video instructions, just the written down pattern and a few photos . I thought maybe you might be able to help me. This is where I’m stuck at right now: So I already have the first round of stitches on my needle, then I have to cast on 2 stitches using the turkish cast on (1 stitch on each needle), after I have to knit 2, purl 1, knit 1; cast on 2 stitches using the turkish cast on again, knit 2, purl 1, knit 2.
    So for the casting on two stitches I wrapped the yarn around my upper needle + the cable just one time (because each wrap equals two stitches, right?) and knit one off the upper needle. Then I turned my work around, pulled out the former upper needle so the stitches are on the cable and knit one off my “new” upper needle. After, without turning my work, I continued knitting 2, p1, k1. Again, without turning anything, I wrapped the yearn around needle and cable once, knit one and THEN turned the work around, knitting one (for the cast on), knitting 2, p1, k2. I’m thinking maybe I’m not supposed to turn my work at all… Overall I’m just confused on how to combine the turkish cast on with the rest. Can you help me?

    • Hey natalie,
      I cannot help you with other designers’ patterns. Sorry. I simply don’t havev the time to read through them, etc.

  3. Wow, the Turkish cast technique is a game-changer – easy to learn and perfect for anyone wanting to add a professional touch to their knitting projects!


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