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.
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
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.
- 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.
- Hold both needles parallel. The slip knot should be sitting on the top needle.
- Wrap the working around both needles counter-clockwise once.
- 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.
- Once you have enough wraps, turn your needles around clockwise. Make sure that you don't accidentally unravel one wrap as you do so.
- Remove the bottom needle. The lower portion of the loops should be secured by the cord.
- Using the now free bottom needle, knit a simple knit stitch into the first loop.
- Continue knitting across until you've knitted one stitch into each loop.
- Turn your work around and carefully drop the slip knot and unravel it.
- Continue knitting across in pattern.
Turkish Cast-on on 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.
Step 2: Turn your needles around and pull 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.
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.
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.
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.