Thumb Method Cast-On Knitting Tutorial

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Knitting | Comments


You can use it to hitchhike, dig the frosting off the top of a cake, show your approval with a thumbs up or thumbs down — who knew your thumb was so useful? Now you can put your thumb to use casting on your knitting.

Thumb method cast-on knitting — also known as the single cast-on or the backward loop cast on — is one of the simplest cast ons. There aren’t any complicated loops to form, and it’s so easy that you’ll often see knitting instructors use it when teaching kids to knit.

When to use the single cast on

While thumb method cast on knitting is easy, the results can be a little frustrating depending on what you’re knitting. If your cast on tension is too tight, the loops can be difficult to knit into when you knit your first row. If your tension is too loose, you might have a very loopy first row of knitting.

This cast on will give you a loose, thin edging on your work, so it’s not recommended if you need a super stable edge on your knitting. It is useful, however, for certain types of lace work that would benefit from a looser edge.

A lot of knitters also use the thumb method cast on when they have to cast on in the middle of a project and only need to add a couple stitches to the beginning or end of a row.

How to make the single cast on

Step 1: Make a slip knot and place it on your right-hand needle. Leave just enough of a tail to weave in later; this isn’t one of those cast ons that require a long tail.

Step 2: Grab the ball end of the yarn with your left hand. Wrap the yarn around your thumb from front to back and grasp the ball end of the yarn with your left-hand fingers.

needle

Step 3: Use your needle to go up into the loop just created by wrapping the yarn.

drop the loop

Step 4: Drop the loop from your thumb. The loop will look like this around the right-hand needle:

drop

Step 5: Pull taut to tighten the stitch. The tension here is very important. If you pull too tightly, you will have difficulty knitting into the cast on stitches when you start your first row. If you don’t pull tight enough, you’ll have a very loose first row. You may have to test the cast on a few times to get the tension just right.

pull taut

Step 6: Repeat until you have the desired amount of stitches on your needle.

repeat

Other Ways to Use Your Thumb

Your thumb can help you out with many other types of cast ons, including the long-tail cast-on. Check out five ways to cast on your knitting project for more ways to put your thumb to good use. And if you’re a beginner knitter, you’ll want to check out Knit Lab with Stefanie Japel to learn not only how to cast on but also how to cast off, purl, knit, decrease, increase, and more.

What’s your preferred way to cast on?

Come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow to discover a free knitting pattern you’re going to love! You might also enjoy this increase stitch tutorial.

Comments

  1. Jenn says:

    Not my favorite way of casting on to start a project as it makes a sloppy edge, but it’s a GREAT cast on to use when you need to add stitches while knitting, such as for buttonholes.

  2. Nana says:

    I don’t like to use this method to cast on because the edge does not end up very neat, but it is useful when you need to add stitches for some reason.

    1. ikky786 says:

      I know right. I learnt to cast on from my nana and she does it different… a much easier way to cast but I learnt to knit at school… my teacher showed me… sorry just got carried away their… I love telling stories about my life… I know its a bit weird… sorry xx

  3. Betsy says:

    I was taught this cast on when I learned to knit. If you do it regularly, you will learn to ge the right tension….I find it works great when you are doing shawls or other projects with fringe. The loopy edge makes fringing, easy.

  4. Penny says:

    I use a similar cast on, but I knit the stitch created with the loop (at step 4) It helps to resolve the problems with tension and leaves a tidy edge.

  5. Linda says:

    I have been using this cast on for 45 years. Never had a problem with the edge being less than neat with sloppy loops.

  6. Minnette Reeder says:

    Very helpful to me, as I was confused by the term thumb method of casting on, I had not seen that in a pattern before. I knit, but haven’t in a long time, and probably need a little bit of help here and there. Great information and nice clear pictures—Thank you