All about Beginnings – Casting On Your Knitting

I distinctly recall that I just couldn’t get the hang of knitting for ages for one reason. Long-tail cast on. Like so many knitters, I was learning from my Mother. And she patiently, and as the years progressed, less patiently, showed me time and time again. I just didn’t get it. And there is a lesson there for all of us – most knitters know and use one cast on and one cast off their entire life. It didn’t occur to me that there was any other way to cast on, and I don’t presume my Grandmother or my Mother knew another way either.

cast on

Some years after she gave up on me, I did manage to work it out for myself. And a while later, I had an epiphany. There were many, many different ways to cast on – one to match your exact project. I’ve now added a few more cast ons  to my knitting vocabulary.

There are the Basic, Stretchy, Decorative, Circular, Double-Sided, Multicolour, Provisional, Tubular and even the Mobius cast on. My head was spinning the more I researched.


If you’re like me and you’re planning your coming Autumn and Winter knits, the Tubular cast on is a good one to learn. It’s very stretchy, so it’s useful for socks, mittens, gloves, and hats. It’s also the perfect beginning for ribbing, which it mimics. The edge looks rolled over; it appears to have no real beginning, so it’s very attractive on hats and cuffs of all sorts. This cast-on is aptly named, because it forms a tube as it’s knitted. The knits stay in front and the purls go to the back. You achieve this by alternately knitting and slipping each stitch, creating two layers of fabric. Be aware that the edge may flare undesirably if it’s worked in bulky yarn, so you might need to go down a needle size when casting on.

Tubular Cast On

Tubular Cast On

It’s worth searching out the instructional videos widely available to show you how to cast on in different ways. There is also a fantastic book called “Cast On Bind Off” by Leslie Ann Bestor which shows you step by step instructions for no less than 33 cast ons AND 21 cast offs. It is a beautiful little book with a spiral binding (lays flat on any page), with clear photos and explanations. A real gem of a book.

Each time I cast on a new project, I have promised to start with a cast-on specific for the purpose!

And before I go – thank you to all the new readers and your comments about the Make-a-Monster competition. I look forward to your entries!


About monsteryarns

I am a yarn enthusiast and knitter.
This entry was posted in Cast on, Knitting, Patterns, Techniques, wool, Yarn and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to All about Beginnings – Casting On Your Knitting

  1. Febr12 says:

    Great post! I also only recently discovered all these different ways to cast on and cast off.

  2. Really looks great. I think I need to try some of these out. You are so right we tend to stick with our favourite!

  3. teabeaknits says:

    I’ve only recently heard of the long tail cast on so I don’t know what it’s good for (or how to do it). I use the method my grandma taught me, which involves two needles, and I’ve also tried the thumb method but somehow it doesn’t feel comfortable. I think I would definitely like to try some of these though. Can you post your pieces as you finish them please 🙂

    • monsteryarns says:

      The long tail cast on is really similar to the thumb method and uses two needles! The other problem is the terminology : )
      There is a multicoloured cast on I will most definitely try when I’m doing hat patterns for the winter. Will try to remember to post…

  4. lisagono says:

    It’s unreal how many ways to cast on and bind off are. I felt like a total beginner when I encountered all the bind offs in a reference book a few weeks ago – I couldn’t even imagine uses for half of them!

  5. Pingback: How to Increase Stitches in Knitting | MonsterYarns

  6. Pingback: How to Increase Stitches in Knitting - Monster Yarns

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s