Advent calendar: 17. Casting on

In knitting, the first thing you do is cast on. This is the process of getting your first set of stitches onto the needle ready to knit with. In all honesty, this is sometimes as far as I get on many projects. It’s because I am fickle and lazy and easily confused.

My favorite cast on, I think, is called a cable cast on. I prefer it to a long tail cast on because that one requires both some estimation of how much yarn you will need, plus the foresight to know how many stitches you want anyway – not always possible if you freewheel like me. Also, I hate the frustration of being so close to the end of a piece, running out of yarn, and seeing a giant long tail at the start of your work, probably long enough to finish off. Ok that wouldn’t happen if I was cleverer or more organized, but it occurred more than once which is plenty enough thank you.

This is how you do my favored cast on.

1. Create a slip knot. There should be a better way to start off but I haven’t found it yet. If you know it, please tell me! Actually I probably do it wrong. This is what I do:

1.1 – loop the yarn:


1.2 – stick the needle into the loop, pick up the tail, and bring the needle back out of the loop:


1.3 – pull tight:


2. Start knitting into your slip knot as normal, but just at the point where you’d normally pull the left needle out to leave your new stitch onto the right hand needle, don’t. You want to put it back onto the left needle instead. I often find I need to pull the stitch slightly larger to stick the left needle into it and pass it over. You can of course pull the yarn to tighten it back up if you need to, but it is nice to have a loose edge I think. I’d put a photo here, but I only have two hands, and I have a large baby strapped to my front, so you’ll just have to try it to see what I mean.

3. Now start knitting into your new stitch – again, as in point 2., passing it back onto the left hand needle when it’s created.

4. Keep going until you have enough stitches for your pattern.

See, your tail is exactly as long or as short as it was when you created the slip knot, because you’re only knitting with new yarn from the ball.

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3 Responses to Advent calendar: 17. Casting on

  1. Pingback: Advent calendar: 19. Polly’s leg warmers |

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