An easy provisional cast-on method
The crochet provisional cast-on method that I’m going to show you today is a modification of the crochet cast-on.
The following explanations and images are for those who knit left-handed, that is, your working hand is your left hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and the stitches move from the right to left needle as you knit. If you knit right-handed, then go to my blog post How to knit tutorial: Crochet provisional cast-on method (for knitting right-handed).
Start with some waste yarn!
The term ‘waste yarn’ will make some of you uneasy. All it means is you take some spare yarn to use as a foundation for your stitches. This yarn will be removed later and discarded, hence the terms ‘waste yarn’ and ‘provisional cast-on’. Choose a smooth yarn that is slightly finer than your project yarn; I normally use mercerised cotton.
Start in the same way as for the crochet cast-on: make a slipknot in your waste yarn and place it on the crochet hook; hold the crochet hook in your left hand. Wrap the yarn around your right hand as if to crochet and hold a knitting needle in the same hand. Place the knitting needle over the ball end of the yarn.
Pass your crochet hook over the knitting needle. Grab the yarn with the hook (move the hook back under the yarn, then forward over it), so the yarn is round the hook.
Pull the yarn through the loop on the hook, thus creating a stitch on the knitting needle.
Pass the yarn backward between the hook and needle.
Cast on the rest of the stitches in the same way until you have the number of stitches you require. So, for the crochet provisional cast-on, if you want 10 stitches, you need to cast on ten. I’m pointing this out because with the crochet cast-on method you cast on one fewer stitch than you require.
Transfer the stitch on the crochet hook to a lockable stitch marker, not the knitting needle. This will make it easy to remove the waste yarn later. Cut the waste yarn leaving a long tail so that it doesn’t unravel. That’s the crochet provisional cast-on part done!
Pick up your project yarn
Pick up your project yarn and start knitting with it. Leave a long enough tail so that the first stitch doesn’t unravel.
Knit the required number of rows.
Remove the waste yarn
Remove the lockable stitch marker. I find it easiest to do the next stage if I hold my knitting upside-down so that the waste yarn is at the top.
Insert a knitting needle into the first loop of your project yarn, …
… then carefully pull out the first waste yarn stitch.
Continue like this removing the waste yarn one stitch at a time until all your live stitches are on a knitting needle.
In the photo above, the provisional cast-on loops formed by removing the waste yarn are on the top needle; you will have one fewer stitch here than at the other end of your knitting.
Alternative provisional cast-on methods
I used to crochet a chain, then pick up and knit through the bump on the back of each chain. There are two problems with this method:
- It is difficult to insert the knitting needle into each bump if the crochet chain is tight;
- The crochet chain will not unravel easily if the knitting needle is inserted through another part of the chain rather than the bump.
There is also a looping provisional cast-on, which is similar to the German two-stranded cast-on.
When should you use the crochet provisional cast-on?
- Knitting a cowl by grafting the provisional cast-on loops to the free loops of a length of knitting;
- Finishing knitted hems: fold the knitting horizontally, then knit together one provisional cast-on loop and one free loop;
- Starting a toe-up sock with a short-row toe;
- Knitting a scarf with matching ends: start with a provisional cast-on and knit from the middle to the first end then remove the waste yarn and knit from the middle to the second end.
Want to learn more?
Take a look at my other tutorials. Choose from:
You knit right-handed if your right hand is your working hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and you move your stitches from your left-hand needle to your right-hand needle as you knit.
You knit left-handed if your left hand is your working hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and you move your stitches from your right-hand needle to your left-hand needle as you knit.
You crochet right-handed if your right hand is your working hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and your new stitches are on the left of your old ones.
You crochet left-handed if your left hand is your working hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and your new stitches are on the right of your old ones.