The Ins and Outs of Casting On

By Andrea Sanchez

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Casting on is the foundation for knitting. There are many different cast-ons, each with their own unique purpose.

When I was first learning to knit and had mastered my cast-on, I had this feeling that I could cast on for anything I wanted (whether or not I had the skills to complete it is another story).

While there are many varieties of cast-ons, I will show you the two I use most frequently: the long tail cast-on and the German twisted cast-on.

Long tail cast-on

This cast-on is the bread and butter of many knitters. It?s the one I go to most often and use whenever the pattern doesn't specify what type of cast-on to use.

Step 1:

Leave a long tail of yarn and make a slip knot. Place it on your needle and make it snug. Make sure the tail of the yarn is falling to the front of the needle and the working yarn to the back.

casting on step 1

Step 2:

Place your thumb and index fingers between the two pieces of yarn, gripping the yarn with your other fingers. Pull the needle up to create a kind of triangle.

casting on step 2

Step 3:

Angle the needle down slightly.

casting on step 3

Step 4:

The tip of the needle will go under the yarn on the outside of your thumb and over the yarn on the inside of your index finger.

casting on step 4a

casting on step 4b

Step 5:

Pull the yarn that's now wrapped around your needle through the loop created around your thumb. Tighten the yarn. You have cast-on!

casting on step 5a
casting on step 5b

Step 6:

Repeat for the number of stitches to cast on.

casting on step 6

Remember, when counting your cast-on stitches, the slip knot always counts as one.

German twisted cast-on

I like to use this stretchy cast-on for hat brims and sock cuffs, or anything that could use a little extra stretch at the cast-on.

This cast-on starts out very similar to the long tail cast-on.

To begin, work Steps 1 through 3 of the long tail cast-on.

Step 4:

The tip of your needle will go under both pieces of yarn around your thumb.

german cast on step 1

Step 5:

Tilt the needle up and pull down through the loop created around your thumb.

german cast on step 2

Step 6:

Pull the needle over and around the yarn on the inside of your index finger.

german cast on step 3

Step 7:

Carefully pull the wrapped yarn and tip of needle through the tiny loop created over the needle and cast on stitches. Snug to tighten.

german cast on step 4
german cast on step 5
german cast on step 6

Remember when you're casting on, tension is important! Too tight and you'll have a difficult time knitting your first row. Too loose and it will be loose and sloppy a looking.

To learn more knitting techniques, check out Knit Lab: Projects, Patterns & Techniques with Stefanie Japel.

Do you have a go-to cast-on?

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