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News Provisional cast-on: crochet hook edition

Published on October 15th, 2014 | by Amy Kaspar

16 comments

Provisional cast-on: crochet hook edition

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There are so many ways to cast-on, but sometimes you need some invisible magic…. Amy Kaspar shows you how….

We all have our favourite cast-ons, but those cast-ons are usually with a smooth bottom or top edge in mind. Provisional cast-ons provide a way to pick up seamless, invisible live stitches without needing to pick up and knit a new row. You just use your first row of live stitches, which you have conveniently left on a piece of waste yarn for later.

This particular provisional cast-on requires smooth waste yarn (I used dishcloth cotton), a crochet hook either the same size as or one size larger than the knitting needles you will be using, and then your normal yarn and needles for the project. Ready?

Crochet a chain with at least five stitches more than the number of stitches your project requires, with your waste yarn. In other words, if the first direction in your knitting pattern is “Cast on 16,” then chain at least 21 stitches. For the crochet-challenged, place your slip knot on the hook, bring the yarn around the hook from back to front over the top, and pull the slip knot over the loop. You will now have a new loop on the hook, and one chain stitch has been formed. Repeat as many times as needed.

Provisional cast-on: crochet hook edition - LoveKnitting blog

When you have enough stitches, break your waste yarn and bring the tail loosely through that last chain. If you look at the chain, one side has little crossed “v”s (like the left side of the photo), and the other side has little bumps in the middle of each chain (like the right side of the photo).

Provisional cast-on: crochet hook edition - LoveKnitting blog

Put your knitting needle through the purl-bumps of the crochet chain, just like you were picking up stitches, one bump at a time. Go the same way through each purl-bump, instead of weaving from one side to the other. Pick up the same number of stitches you require to start your project. There should be a few extra chain stitches after your pickups.

Provisional cast-on: crochet hook edition - LoveKnitting blog

Then, just start knitting with your project yarn. Make sure your yarn is secure on the first stitch, either by twisting the tail under that first stitch, or using the crochet hook to pull the yarn through the stitch below it on the next row on your way back. You can attach it any way you want, really, except do not tie a knot to the crochet chain.

Provisional cast-on: crochet hook edition - LoveKnitting blog

Knit knit knit. When you are as far as you need to go, bind off and get ready for the magic to happen!

Provisional cast-on: crochet hook edition - LoveKnitting blog

Now, undo that tail from your waste yarn. Be careful to not undo the slip knot; this only works going from the last chained stitch to the first one. Once you undo the knot, pull the waste yarn tail and have your knitting needle on the ready to pick up live stitches. As you pull out the chain, little loops from the first row you knitted will pop right up. Slide them on the knitting needle so that the front leg is ahead of the back leg.

Provisional cast-on: crochet hook edition - LoveKnitting blog

Look at the orientation of your stitches. I picked up so that theย next row is a knit row, in order to knit garter stitch.

Provisional cast-on: crochet hook edition - LoveKnitting blog

Then…again…knit knit knit. Continue in whatever stitch your pattern calls for. This cast-on is often used to make cuffs, hems, necklines, and contrasting stitch patterns in the same direction.

See? Invisible. I left all of the ends hanging out so you can see where I started and stopped, but if you look at the right edge, the new row is undetectable from the old one.

Provisional cast-on: crochet hook edition - LoveKnitting blog

In addition to adding cuffs and hems, this cast-on can be used so that you end up with two cast-off edges instead of a cast-on and a separate cast-off. By knitting in both directions from the provisional cast on, your edges will look exactly the same. This is also a great cast-on for when you need to graft two edges together, such as a cowl that you knit in a panel instead of a tube.

Try it out and let me know how it goes. You’ve got this.

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About the Author

Amy lives in Chicago and can either be found knitting, writing about knitting, designing knitted things, or watching professional hockey while knitting. There is also a necessary cup of coffee nearby at all times, Follow her on Twitter @thefiberfriend for more yarny bits.


Last updated: October 16th, 2014.

16 Responses to Provisional cast-on: crochet hook edition

  1. Betty Edwards says:

    Wow, I will,have to try this! Thanks

    • Amy Kaspar says:

      Miss Betty…Amy here…you are quite welcome! Let me know how it turns out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Cornelia Tietze-Boeink says:

        I am german and don’t understand this tutorial can I read it in german?

  2. Jordan says:

    Have a seaman’s scarf pattern that I never tried because I couldn’t figure out how to do the provisional cast-on. This really helps and I plan on making all five of the patterns, now that I know how to do the cast-on correctly. Thx

  3. Laurie says:

    Kitchener stitch is so cumbersome and confusing. Do you have other suggestions for connecting the provisional cast on to the other end of a cowl scarf that has been knitted flat?

  4. vtknitboy says:

    ๐Ÿ™‚ i think in the paragraph describing the Vs and bumps the second part should be “like the bumps on the RIGHT side of th photo.” You said left side for both examples. Thx for a great tutorial! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amy Kaspar says:

      Eeps…turns out I’m NOT perfect! Ha ha…thanks so much for pointing that out…it has been fixed now. Good eye, and thank you for reading!

  5. Petra Daniels says:

    Hello Amy,
    Since you have the crochet hook and the needle why not crochet the chain directly onto the needle. Make a slip knot on the crochet hook and chain a couple of stitches. Then hold your needle to the left of the crochet hook. Bring the yarn under the needle. With the crochet hook going over the needle pick up the yarn and make a chain stitch. This puts the back bump on the needle. Bring the yarn under the needle to the left again. Pick up the yarn with the crochet hook going over the needle and do another chain stitch. Continue this until you have the desired number of stitches. Then chain several more stitches that you can start the unzipping when you are ready to work the provisional cast on part of your knitting.

    • Amy Kaspar says:

      Petra…Amy here…I love that method! I do try to only cover one technique at a time per post, and this week I chose the two-step method. Space-permitting, I would love to outline the crochet-onto-the-needle technique in another post with photos to support it…you did a great job explaining how to do it. Thanks very much for reading!

  6. Ski Croghan says:

    I love this stitch. I could never figure out the written only directions. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

  7. Diane says:

    Thank you so much! I taught myself to knit 7 years ago. I do not crochet. I have tried provisional cast-on many times and now just avoid them unless I can do the Russian cast-on.
    This is so clear! For example, I have never seen the difference of the Vs and bumps on crochet. I didn’t know to pull from the last stitch.
    And every other tutorial I’ve tried mixes too many techniques…like pickup and knit, or cast onto the needle like someone else suggested. Maybe when I know what I’m doing…for for now it is too much.
    I can’t wait to try this! Thank you!

  8. Hello Amy !
    Do you design Knitted animals ? In Uruguay, South America there is a rodent called Capyvara and I would love to have a pattern. If by any chance you do not design animal patterns would you know of somebody who would ?
    I would send some photos of real ones …
    Thank you,
    Maria Ines

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