How To...

Published on February 5th, 2014 | by Elizabeth Bagwell


4 Ways To Cast On

cast onCasting on is often the very first thing a knitter learns, and many knitters progress a long way before they realize that there are many ways to cast on. Different cast ons have different attributes. Some are very stretchy (ideal for socks and the necks of jumpers) while others are very firm (ideal for the edge of a bag or washcloth). Some cast ons are very easy, while others are very quick, once you get the knack. Here are four of our favorites.

1. Cast on the way you knit
Also called: knit cast on, knitting on, cable cast on (variation)
Great for: beginners, casting on mid-project

This is a great stitch to teach new knitters, as it’s the same action as when you knit. It’s also really useful for casting on mid-project. A variation of this, where you put the knitting needle between two stitches instead of in the stitch, is often called the cable cast on. You can also do this by purling during steps 2-4.

How to do a knit cast on
1. Tie a slipknot and place the loop on your needle. This is your first stitch.
2. Slip your needle into the loop as though to knit.
3. Wrap the yarn around the needle and pull through, as though you were knitting.
4. Instead of slipping a stitch off, slide your new loop onto the needle next to your first stitch.
5. Give the yarn a tug to make the stitch snug.
6. Repeat as necessary!

2. A very stretchy cast on
Also called: Jeny’s super-stretchy cast on, Jeny’s stretchy slipknot cast-on
Great for: socks, necks and cuffs of sweaters, baby projects
Popularized by Jeny Staiman, this cast on is made up of a series of slipknots. It works particularly well with ribbing. It’s the stretchiest cast on I’ve ever come across. It is a bit fiddly to learn, and takes me a while to do, but is well worth it as the cast on is as stretchy as the knitted fabric itself.

How to do Jeny’s stretchy slipknot cast-on


3. Backward-loop cast on
Also called: Single cast on
Great for: Casting on quickly, adding stitches mid-project

Easy to learn, the backwards-loop cast on is often taught to new knitters. However, although it’s easy to cast on, knitting the first row is often a pain as it’s hard to make the stitches even, and they tend to get tight. This cast on can look loose or uneven.

How to do a backward-loop cast on
1. Tie a slipknot and place the loop on your needle. This is your first stitch.
2. Pick up the working yarn (still attached to the ball)
3. Make a loop
4. Slip that loop over the needle so that the yarn from the ball is closer to the slip knot and the yarn from the slip knot is further away.
5. Give the yarn a tug to make the stitch snug.
6. Repeat as necessary!

4. Long-tail cast on
Also called: Each variation has at least one name, including: thumb method, German Twisted cast on, Old Norwegian cast on, double cast on, Continental cast on, Austrian cast on, sling shot cast on
Great for: Casting on really quickly, a firm cast on

There are loads of slight variations to this cast on. A long-tail cast on uses two strands of yarn. Typically, you’ll pull out a length of yarn from the ball, divide it in half and start the cast on at that point, using both the long tail and the working yarn. It’s easy to miscalculate the length of the tail required. An alternative is to use two ends – the inside and outside of a ball, for example – but this means more ends to weave in.

How to do a long-tail cast on


Want to learn more? Check out the Ultimate Knitting Bible or the Compendium of Knitting Techniques. Both books explain several ways to cast on, cast off, and get from one to the other.

About the Author

Elizabeth is a keen knitter, occasional designer, enthusiastic traveler and a professional freelance writer. She spent three years working for British knitting magazine, Simply Knitting, and has also written for The Knitter and other craft titles. She blogs at:

Last updated: August 8th, 2017.

3 Responses to 4 Ways To Cast On

  1. Virginia Rinehart says:

    A backward loop cast on is a POOR excuse for a cast on and will not maintain its integrity when moved to a circular needle cord. It is uneven and looks terrible.

  2. Pat Pierce says:

    The pattern I am using states cast on using thumb method. How do you do this.

  3. The_L says:

    The long-tail cast-on is how I learned. It’s easy to work with, but not very stretchy, and you have to be good at judging how much “tail” you need for a project (I’m not very good at it).

    I’ll have to start using a Super-Stretchy more often, since it doesn’t require the headache of starting over if your tail’s too short, nor the headache of having to cut off a whole foot of yarn if your tail’s way too long (I just did this, and yes, there is still a good 7-8″ left over for weaving in).

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