How to Cast On





Introduction: How to Cast On

There are some things I constantly find myself going back to my knitting books for a refresher on, and casting on is one of them. I’ve built it into my muscle memory now, but for years I’d need to consult some reference or another to remind me how to start every new project.

If you’re anything like me, you can use a reminder on occasion about even some of the most basic knitting techniques. If so, I hope you find this little tutorial helpful. It also might be useful for any beginners out there who are trying to tease out the meat from the illustrations in knitting books that often don’t speak very well from themselves.

There are, of course, many different ways to cast on, but once I learned this one, I never bothered to learn another. Anyway, here’s how I do it.

Step 1: Start the Slipknot

To begin the slipknot that will become the first cast-on stitch, make a loop with the yarn, leaving about an inch of tail for each stitch you plan to cast on (in this example, we’ll use 10+ inches for 10 stitches) and a few extra inches, just to be safe.

Step 2: Finish the Slipknot

Loop a section of the tail and pull it through your first loop. The slipknot formed by second loop will be your first stitch, while the first loop will provide the tension.

Step 3: Finish First Stitch

Insert the needle through the slipknot and pull it tight. You’ve cast on your first stitch.

Step 4: Start Second Stitch

Hold the needle in your right hand, with the knot of the first stitch facing away from you. Loop the tail around your left thumb (as shown here), and insert your needle into the front of the loop.

Step 5: Knit Second Stitch

Wrap the skein-side yarn around the tip of your needle, just as you do when knitting.

Step 6: Finish Second Stitch

Fold the loop in your left hand over the tip of the needle and pull taut. You’ve just cast on your second stitch and are ready to do the rest just like this one.

Step 7: Finish Up

Once you’re done casting on, your 10 stitches should look like this.

And that’s basically it. Works every time.



    • Stick It! Contest

      Stick It! Contest
    • BBQ Showdown Challenge

      BBQ Showdown Challenge
    • Backpack Challenge

      Backpack Challenge

    27 Discussions

    OK, this is how I originally learned to cast on, but everything I've read since was a longer, more complicated way that uses way more yarn! Thanks for showing this is the way to cast on. I've got to start a project and didn't think I'd ever get it done, let alone started !!! WHOO-HOO!!!

    I've always used a more complicated "stretchy" cast on that uses twice the yarn. This was perfect for my latest project - thanks!

    Thanks this was VERY helpful. My try turned out just like the picture.

    I think I've done this once, but I didn't have that white stick, I just held one end between my toes and kept getting those loops one into the other. maybe it's not the same thing, but thx for posting, it's surely better than any other guide..

    Thanks for this awesome instructable. Casting off makes much more sense now to me.

    it was interesting to see your way of casting on - here in central europe we cast on differently and we also knit differently than the british for example. how do you knit in the states, the continental or the british way?

    6 replies

    Hi Pixiebits...There are THREE ways of knitting, or so I've heard tell. 1) British, 2) European and 3) American. And then there is a 4th: Left-handed knitting for any/all of the above! Confusing, eh? Living in Canada, we can pick n' choose...and get very confused about which size needles to use! LOL The best bit is that if any given method confuses you...switch to another - eventually the right one will turn up!

    Could you post the continental version of casting on? I'd like to see the difference. I knit in the continental fashion, but came about it accidentally: I was taught to knit the English way, then spent some time crocheting. When I returned to knitting I accidentally conflated the two, and was told I had stumbled into the continental way. I find the continental version to be much smoother, and easier to do without looking at my hands. I guess both of these knitting techniques should be "instructableized" too, but I've got a backlog! Maybe you'll beat me to it.

    I'm German and was taught casting on exactly like Brian. However, nowadays I prefer a different method: I crochet a linkchain where the number of links is equal to the required number of knitting stitches later. At this stage I do not cut off the thread but leave the strand of yarn attached. With a second strand of yarn and my crochet needle I pull a loop through the first chainlink and transfer that to the knitting needle, pull another loop through the next chainlink, transfer it to the knitting needle and so on. The next row will be knitted of course. The chainlinkmethod has a couple advantages: if at the end of the first row you find that you need to add a couple more stitches, it is easy to chain a couple more instead of undoing the first knitting row and starting all over. Also if you are knitting sleeves from the wrist on upwards, most of the time the wrist part is somewhat too rigid to let your hand slip through easyly. But if you are using the chainlink method, once you have completed the sleeve, all you have to do is unravel the starting chain carefully one by one, put the now appearing loops of the first knitting row on your knitting needle and finish off the sleeve by k1p1 or k2p2. This is my very first post and I'm sorry for not being able to upload any images - I simply don't have the equipment yet. I hope though, that everybody interested will be able to follow these instructions. If not, let me know and I'll try to help. Oh, and please don't forget that English is not my native tongue but I'm trying my best...

    This sounds like a great way to cast on -- I'm going to try it soon. I learned a different way of knitting from a lady who watched a woman knitting on a train in Finland. Here this is called "combination knitting" and I like it, but it's hard to translate Western patterns sometimes. Thanks and your English is very good! Sharon

    i will see what i can do this weekend, i will post on here when i've done it!

    Yeah, as I mention in my introduction, I realize there are many ways to cast on, though this is the only one I've ever needed. I knit in the English style and have never really tried to learn Continental, which struck me as complicated.

    I tried this for the first time yesterday, and while I thought it worked okay, the girls I was with thought that maybe I was missing a step in the instructions I had. When I get home I think I'll try your way of doing it. :)

    lady2007bumbble says: One time trying to learn to knit was a failure; your way looks easier and pictures are wonderful!

    I am teaching my 16 year old grandson is learning both knitting and crocheting. He is over 6 ft tall and shy. His high school Economics teacher wants all of her students to learn to knit or crochet neck scarves. She says that way she knows that if they don't learn anything else in school, her students can support themselves on the streets selling scarves. So now the school is full of students making scarves. Some at breaks, some in secret. My grandson is good enough that some of the girls ask him for help. He even asks them to add a few rows to his scarf. Who knew? A new way to meet girls!

    1 reply

    Tell your grandson that knitting is definitely a great way to meet girls. Like babies, puppies, or other accessories that show a man's "sensitive side," a ball of yarn and a pair of sticks can be something of a chick magnet.