How to Cast On Knitting

How to Cast on Knitting? Whether you want to acquire or advance your knitting skills, learning how to cast on knitting is essential. Casting techniques help you start or continue a knitting project. You can begin by learning the simple methods and progress to complex ones.

While you may have heard numerous names for casting techniques, some methods are identified by more than one title. They can be confusing and leave you in a dilemma, feeling overwhelmed which to learn first. With the right approach, you will complete your project and make it appealing.

To learn more about casting techniques and how to cast on knitting, read on.

What Does ‘Casting on’ Mean in Knitting?

All knitting projects start with casting on, and while this may be a basic skill, it has advanced techniques useful in enhancing projects. Most beginners will concentrate on a few simple ones when learning how to knit, but with more experience, they become interested in making their work better by casting on knitting. What does casting on mean in knitting?

In knitting, casting refers to techniques that add new stitches to your work that don’t rely on the existing ones. Knitters view it as the opposite of binding off because the latter depends on the older stitches. The two also use unrelated techniques, making them distinct.

You can decorate the cast-on with other knitting patterns like the picots. The cast-on stitches can easily be moved in either direction since you add them to the needle. This twisting is common with the single cast-on.

Depending on the new pattern, you can cast on knitting using a doubled-up or larger needle than the original one. The extra yarn will help you make the stitches more flexible, loosening them up. You can also learn how to cast off knitting for easy project completion.

Methods of Casting on in Knitting

Long tail cast on
Image source: We Are Knitters

Before you learn how to start knitting, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the different techniques. They include

    1. Single Cast-On

Also known as the backward loop cast-on or the Simple cast-on, this method is easy to follow and results in a stretchy and flexible edge. Some knitters apply this technique when learning how to knit socks.

While it’s a simple technique, knitting from its edge is quite challenging. It also has a variation that you can accomplish by making a few changes to the method. The good thing about the variation is that it is tighter and neat, although it lacks elasticity. 

      2. Knit Cast-On

This technique is straightforward; you only need to follow a few simple steps to make it. When doing it, you get to learn another stitch called the knit stitch. You can use it in all kinds of projects.

It makes a stretchy form which may give an untidy appearance. You can enhance it by making its purl or rib version. Some of its common names include knitting on and knitted cast on.

      3. Cable Cast-On

The Cable cast-on is similar to the Knit cast-on with a slight distinction of the needle placement as you perform it. It forms a more rigid edge that is even and seems like a cable. 

It is not stretchy, so it can mess up your sweater bottom or hat projects. You can learn how to knit a hat to avoid such techniques.

      4. Long-Tail Cast-On

This cast-on technique is more popular among expert knitters. It requires good estimation skills since you have to make a slip knot between the yarn and leave a dangling side for fastening the stitch.

Also known as the double cast-on, slingshot, or two-strand, this technique makes loops like knit stitches. If the dangling end is too short, you will run out of knitting yarn and unravel the garment to start again.

      5. Provisional Cast-On

The Provisional cast-on is popularly known as the invisible cast-on since it has no boundaries allowing you to knit on any edge. You begin with crocheting and then knit into it. This technique allows you to continue knitting from any direction.

It is helpful when you want to blend different patterns since you can do away with the crochet chains and remain with knitting stitches. You can also use this cast-on method to join a garment with a knitting border or two pieces of knitting work.

      6. German Twisted Cast On

This casting method is a great choice when making socks since it adds some extra twist on the edge making it more elastic. It is more similar to long-tail cast-on, although with some variation.

Also known as the Old Norwegian Cast-on, this technique requires great estimation skills. While it uses a dangling yarn, you have to leave about twice the length of what you would use in the long-tail technique to supply the extra twist.

      7. Frilled Cast-On

Eileen Casey developed this technique that adds a frilly edge to a project. It is useful in girl’s projects since it enhances the appearance of your work, making it have a flowery look.

You can also use it in projects that require something special added to it. Some of the popular names that knitters use to refer to this method include Picot Cast-on and Picot Hem.

Other cast-on methods you can use to improve your work include chain cast-on, braided cast-on, two-needle cast-on, and crotchet chain cast-on. Learning one at a time and practicing it can be of great help if you want to become more proficient in casting. If you prefer using your hands solely, you can also learn how to finger knit

How to Cast on Knitting for Beginners

Learn to cast on your first knit stitches
Image source: Purls and Pixels

Most novice knitters look forward to learning more skills like how to make a chunky knit blanket. Whether doing it as a hobby or creating an empire, learning how to cast on knitting for beginners is essential in enhancing their knitting prowess. 

You can start by focusing on those easy to execute methods as you progress to those that are complex. Below are some precise instructions on how to cast on knitting

How do You Cast on Knitting with One Needle

Casting makes loops on your needle so you can have stitches to knit from. Some of the techniques you need to learn to achieve this include

    1. Single Cast-On

Knitting simple cast on
Image source: Pattern Duchess

Step 1. Slip Knot

To make a slip-knot, start by making a loop with your yarn. Then pass the yarn through the loop to make a ring with a knot.

Step 2. Single Cast-On

    • Slide the needle into the knot and pull the yarn to tighten it.
    • Take the working yarn (from the ball of yarn) and wrap it around your thumb. It will make a ring around your finger (thumb).
    • Pass the needle under and up via the loop around your thumb.
    • Remove your thumb from the ring and pull the yarn to tighten the stitch.

Step 3. Repeat the step two process until you reach the preferred number of stitches you want to cast on. Here is a video guide for the Single Cast-on technique.

      2. Long-Tail Cast-On

Before you begin to execute this method, you need to measure the length of dangling yarn you need. The size depends on the number of stitches you plan to make. For instance, if you want to make 10 stitches you can leave about a foot for the tail.

Step 1. Slip Knot

    • After measuring the dangling side, hold the spot where it ends on the working yarn and make a loop. 
    • Take the working yarn and pass it through the loop to make another circle. Then slide the needle into the slip knot and use your right hand to hold it.

Knitting long tail cast on
Image source: WOOL AND THE GANG

Step 2. Long-Tail Cast-On

    • Take the tail, wrap the thumb with it, and then hold it with your middle and ring finger. Ensure it lays in the opposite direction from you.
    • Take the yarn from the ball, wrap the pointer finger, and hold the yarn against the palm using your ring and pinky fingers. 
    • Insert the needle under the loop on the thumb, then scoop the wrap around your index finger. 
    • Bring the scooped yarn out via the thumb loop. Pull the thumb out of the ring and pull the yarn to tighten the new stitch.

Long tail knitting cast on
Image source: WOOL AND THE GANG

Step 3. Repeat step two until you have the desired number of stitches on your needle.

That’s how to cast on knitting with one needle. Another technique that utilizes a single needle includes the German Cast-On. Click here to learn this method. 

How to Cast on Knitting Needles

Learning how to cast on with knitting needles is crucial, especially if you want to make projects with different patterns. Here are some guidelines on how to cast on with two needles

Two-Needle Cast-On

How to cast on knitting needles
Image source: Tricksy Knitter

This method is more similar to the knit cast-on technique and is common among beginners. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to execute the two-needle cast-on

Step 1. Slip Knot

Make a slip-knot, and then slide it into one of your needles. Complete this step by tightening the yarn and holding the needle with the left hand.

Step 2. Two-Needle Cast-On

    • Insert your right needle via the front of the slip-knot stitch. While doing this, make sure that the right needle is behind the left one.
    • Take the working yarn and wrap it around the right needle in an anticlockwise direction.
    • Using the tip of the right needle, draw a loop with the yarn (wrapped around it) by passing it under the slip-knot and out.
    • Take the right needle up and transfer the stitch to the left needle, then release the right needle. 
    • To complete this step, tighten the stitch.

Step 3. Repeat step two to make more stitches.

How Do You Cast On Stitches In Knitting?

How to cast on knitting stitches
Image source: Pinterest

Some projects require that you cast on a specific number of stitches amidst the project. It can be confusing, especially if you are a novice in knitting. The good thing is that you can always learn to complete their projects.

How Do I Cast On Stitches in Knitting?

Method 1: Backward Loop Cast-On Variation

Backward loop cast on knitting
Image source: New Stitch a Day

This technique is a variation of the single cast-on and is simple compared to others. Here is how you can execute it

Step 1. Hold your project on the left for the yarn to face on the right. Then pass the right index finger under and up the yarn.

Step 2. Rotate the pointer finger in an anticlockwise direction to make a loop.

Step 3. Take the loop, slide it on the needle in your left hand, and pull the working yarn to alter the size of the new stitch.

Step 4. Repeat steps one to three until you get the desired number of stitches.

So, if you are looking for a simple method on how to cast stitches in knitting this technique is ideal even for beginners. It will give you noticeable stitches even after you continue working on the project, therefore making it easy to join. It also has a downside like any other backward loop cast-on, which is leaving loose edges.

Method 2: Knitted Cast-On

Knitted cast on tutorial Knitted cast on tutorial beginner
Knitted cast on tutorial for beginners Tutorial on knitted cast on
Image source: Knotions Craft Smarter

With this cast-on technique, you will need the basic skill of knitting. It is similar to the knitting process except where you slip off the original stitch from your left needle. How do you cast on in knitting using this method?

Step 1. Hold the work with your left hand for the working yarn to face on the right hand.

Step 2. Insert the needle on your right hand in the first stitch of your project.

Step 3. Using the working yarn, wrap the right needle’s tip, then pull the wrapped yarn under the existing stitch (of the left needle).

Step 4. Step three will give you a new stitch on the right needle. Place this stitch on the left needle and pull the yarn to adjust its size.

Step 5. Repeat steps one to four to reach the specified number of stitches required for the project.

One common challenge that knitters face when executing this technique is slipping the original stitch off the left needle. Remember, this is the step you have to skip for your stitches to increase. 

Knitted cast-on makes a more firm edge compared to that of the backward loop technique. It’s also not bulky, giving it an upper hand for seams. 

Method 3: Cable Cast-On

Cable cast on knitting
Image source: WOOL AND THE GANG

If you like firm edges that hold shape well, this technique does that excellently. Here is how to cast stitches in knitting

Step 1. Ensure that you are holding your work with the left hand and the yarn is facing on the right.

Step 2. Insert the right needle in between the first and second stitch of your work. To accomplish this, slide the right needle from the front to the back. 

Step 3. Wrap the tip of your right needle with the working yarn and pull the loop down between the two stitches to get a new stitch. 

Step 4. Transfer the new stitch from the right to the left needle.

Step 5. Repeat steps one to four to get the required number of stitches. 

Steps number three and four can be difficult due to tightness. To avoid this, ensure that the two exiting stitches are closer to the left needle’s tip. It will allow more space to pass the needle without difficulty.

The new stitches also determine how easy it will be to cast on new stitches. While you are free to adjust the size of the new stitch, avoid making it too tight. You will have an easy time casting on new stitches.


Pros Cons

Backward loop cast-on

    • Simple to execute
    • Easy to join edges
    • Leaves loose edges

Knitted cast-on

    • Leaves a firm edge
    • Is not bulky
    • More complex compared to the backward loop.

Cable cast-on

    • Firm edges
    • Holds the work in good shape
    • Challenging to do for tight knitters

How to Cast on Knitting in the Middle of a Row

How to cast on in the middle of your work
Image source: Pinterest

Searching for how to cast on while knitting in the middle of a row? You can use different techniques, from simple to complex ones. For instance, the single cast-on, knitted cast-on, and cable cast-on. 

How do I cast on in knitting at the center of the row?

    • Purling On

When learning how to knit a sweater, some parts of this project, like the underarm, requires a technique that will not add extra stitches to the needle. While most people are familiar with the cable and knitted cast-on, they are not ideal for such projects.

Purling plays a significant role in this since it maintains the number of stitches. When casting on, instead of knitting the stitches, you purl them. You can either use this method on the purl side or at the beginning of the row.

    • Chinese Waitress Cast-On

This method is also applicable at the beginning of a row, in garter stitch, at the start of your work, and other reversible projects. The Chinese Waitress cast-on utilizes a needle and a crochet hook. It makes a stretchy and smooth edge on both sides, making it comfortable to wear.

Some of its downsides include the need to practice more, unlike other techniques like the single cast-on. The method also necessitates you to have a crochet hook ready to execute the technique.


Are you a novice trying to figure out which casting technique to learn first? Starting from the easy-to-follow methods will help you master the basics before progressing to the difficult ones. For example, you can begin with single cast-on and long-tail cast-on, then advance to techniques like Cable and Knitted cast-on techniques.

What about casting on, in the middle of the row? Some simple methods like the backward loop apply here. You can also learn the purling on and Chinese Waitress after you master the basic techniques. After knitting your garment, improve your work by adding woven labels or care labels.

When choosing a cast-on method, you also need to consider the texture and look you want to accomplish, whether it’s firm, loose, neat, or bumpy. Which of these cast-on techniques will you be learning next?

Casting stitches using one needle

Casting stitches using two needles

Casting stitches at the middle of the row

Single cast-on

Two-needle cast-on

Single cast-on

Long-tail cast-on

Backward loop cast-on

Knitted cast-on

German cast-on

Knitted cast-on

Cable cast-on

Cable cast-on

Purling on

Chinese Waitress

As a beginner, this video will help you learn how to cast on knitting quickly. Check it out.