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How to: work provisional cast on

video by

Let's Knit Together

  • Overview
  • Practical Guides

This is a cast on that temporarily holds the first row of knitting on a crochet chain, and then allows you to go back and pick up these stitches and work the other way. This is useful for a seamless join, or allows you to add a cast-off edge to this side of the fabric.

Take special care to not split the waste yarn when you pick up stitches as otherwise it will not unravel cleanly when you come to remove it and you may need to snip stray strands to free up the yarn.

Start with a crochet hook the same size as your knitting needles and some smooth waste yarn, which won’t become part of your knitting. Make a slip knot and place it on your crochet hook. Put a little knot at the tail end, so you can identify the slip knot end later. Tensioning the yarn in your left hand, and holding the knot under the hook between your thumb and middle finger, dip the hook under the yarn to wrap the yarn around the hook, and pull a loop through to make one chain stitch. Remember to turn the hook down to move it smoothly though the previous loop, without snagging on the sides. Repeat this action to create the correct number of even chain stitches needed to cast on, plus a couple more at either end. Cut the waste yarn, remove the hook, and fasten off by pulling the tail through the last stitch. You’ll undo this later, so don’t pull it tight. The front of the chain has Vs and the back has central bumps. Take your knitting needle in your right hand and insert the tip through the second or third bump at the slip knot end (by the knotted tail). Wrap your working yarn round the needle and pull a loop through to sit on the needle. Make sure you have a long enough tail for weaving in, and that the loop is not too tight or slack on your needle. Continue to pick up one loop through each bump on the back of the crochet chain until you have the correct number of stitches for your cast on. With the stitches on your needle you can now carry on with your pattern until you’re told to go back to the provisional cast on. When you come back to the provisional cast on, you may find it easier to use a narrower needle just to pick up the stitches again. Turn your work so the provisional cast on is at the top, with the right side facing you. Working from left to right, undo the fastening knot of the crochet - not at the knot end - and carefully unravel the chain stitches to the first knitted stitch. The first stitch may need a little extra unpicking. Insert the knitting needle from front to back into the first live stitch to pick it up and then carefully pull the waste yarn to undo the chain. The stitch is now on the knitting needle. Repeat this action in each stitch along, inserting the needle from front to back before unravelling the waste yarn. Work back across the whole row until the crochet chain is no longer attached and all the stitches have been picked up and are on the left-hand needle. The waste yarn can now be discarded. Depending on your yarn, you may be happy to pull out the waste yarn before inserting your needle, just be careful to pick up the stitches in the correct orientation (ie not accidentally twisting them) and avoid pulling on the fabric or dropping any stitches. Check the number of stitches on your left-hand needle to ensure you’re ready to continue with the pattern.


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