Need a stretchy cast-on? How about a cast-on for a moebius scarf? Or a cast-on method that will destroy Second Sock Syndrome? Check out these little-known cast-on methods
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Can a cast-on method change your life?
Oh, you’d better believe it can!
Once upon a time, I had a distressing problem knitting anything that came in twos (including both socks and mittens). I could never get the two to match.
No matter how carefully I counted rows/rounds or measured, one always turned out longer than the other.
Since mittens and socks are two of my favorite knitting projects, this issue drove me bonkers.
Enter Liat Gat’s fabulous two-at-a-time cast-on method…
What Every Knitting Project Has in Common
From the most basic dishcloth to the most complex sweater or pair of socks, every knitting project has one thing in common.
It doesn’t matter what you do with your needles and yarn. You could knit every stitch, alternate between knit and purl stitches, or slip or cable or entrelac or mosaic or duplicate or double knit your stitches.
Regardless, somehow, you’ll have to start your project! You’ll need to cast on.
When I first started to knit, I used the knitted cast-on. I think almost everyone learns this method first! It’s perfect for brand-new knitters because you learn how to cast on and how to knit a stitch all at the same time.
Later, I learned the long-tail method. That is the method I used to use in almost every knitting project. Mainly because it’s fast! I love that all I have to do is swing around my needle a few times, and boom, I can start knitting!
(Okay, it’s a little more complex than that. But not much.)
I still use the long-tail cast-on when I want to whip up something really quickly. However, I have a new favorite. It’s the Chinese waitress cast-on, which you’ll find out about shortly!
A Few Alternatives to Long-Tail Cast-On
I had three exceptions to my long-tail cast-on. One: if I’m knitting toe-up socks, obviously the long-tail cast-on will do me no good. For this, I use Judy’s Magic Cast-On or the Turkish cast-on, which you’ll find a little later.
Two: if the pattern I’m knitting tells me to use a different cast-on. If a pattern says to use a particular cast-on method, it probably has a really good reason!
For instance, some patterns need a stretchy cast-on. Others require a very firm cast-on. Still others require flexible cast-ons for later added stitches.
Finally, my third exception is Liat Gat’s Limitless Cast-On for Two-At-A-Time-ANYTHING. This is another method you’ll learn about shortly!
Now then, you’ve waited long enough. Keep reading for several little-known cast-on methods you’ll find extremely useful. And for each method, you’ll find a video tutorial.
7 Little-Known Cast-on Methods
Chinese Waitress Cast-On: When I I discovered this method, I was utterly blown away by it. This method uses both a knitting needle and a crochet hook. Sounds bizarre, I know, but it’s actually quite simple.
To me it looks like a cross between a provisional and a knitted cast-on, with a dash of long-tail for speed. In addition to adding a fun factor, this method is a great way to cast-on stitches in the middle of a project.
You can actually use a knitting needle by itself for this cast-on. However, I’ve found using the crochet hook is easier.
And I know this looks completely insane! But when you try it yourself, you may be surprised at how easy it is to get into a nice rhythm.
What I love most about this method is that it offers the nicest-looking edge I’ve ever seen. That’s why I’ve taken to using it for most of my cast-ons, unless there’s a specific reason it won’t work.
Turkish Cast-On: This was the first toe-up cast-on I learned, and I can’t for the life of me remember why I abandoned it for Judy’s. (Probably because the sock patterns I used called for it.) This is a far easier method!
You will simply wrap yarn around your needles half as many times as the number of stitches to be cast on, and then you knit. The only tricky part here is to make sure your wraps don’t fall off your needle before you start knitting them.
If you want to cast on for toe-up socks with lightning speed, this is the method.you want. I use it all the time now when I knit socks toe-up.
Rib Cable or Alternating Cable Cast-On: This cast-on is very nearly identical to the cable cast-on, with one key difference: every other stitch is pulled from between the stitches in the opposite direction.
The result of this cast-on is a row of 1 x 1 ribbing that renders the cast-on completely invisible!
It creates an extremely stretchy edge ideal for sleeve cuffs, hat brims, sock cuffs, sweater necklines, and so on. (I can’t wait to try this one on my next hat project!)
Estonian Cast-On: Here’s another very stretchy cast-on that can be used for just about anything. It’s very much like the long-tail cast-on, but the second step is long-tail in reverse. In addition to the original version’s simplicity,
I also like the variation (showed here by Nancy Bush) that provides a more decorative element.
Crochet Cast-On: Most of us have heard of provisional cast-ons, using a crochet hook. But did you know that you can just as easily use the same movements to create a traditional cast-on?
Just use your working yarn as you normally would for a cast-on, and this will work just fine. If you’re an established crocheter new to knitting, this is the perfect method for you!
Moebius Cast-On: Let’s get this out of the way: this might be the funkiest cast-on I’ve ever seen.
When you see someone slide a slip knot onto a circular needle cable, and then bravely take a needle tip to it, your first reaction is, “Okay, there’s no way this is going to work.” (At least, that was my first reaction!)
In a way, it’s like a Turkish cast-on in that it involves simple yarn-overs. But in another way, it’s like the long-tail or Chinese waitress cast-on. That is, once you get the hang of it, you’ll get into a rhythm.
It really does work, and if you want to knit a moebius scarf (i.e., an infinity scarf with a twist in it), this is the only way to do so seamlessly. Note: you’ll definitely want to give yourself plenty of time and practice with this one!
The video also shows how to knit the first row of a moebius. Don’t skip this part! Also, I highly recommend viewing this video full-screen for full, glorious detail.
Liat’s Limitless Cast-on for Two-at-a-Time ANYTHING: Here it is: the cast-on that changed my life. Thanks to Liat’s method, I now knit everything that comes in pairs two-at-a-time. My mismatching days are over!
If you have the same problem as I do, or if you suffer the dreaded Second Sock (or Mitten, I suppose!) Syndrome, you really must try this method.
Did you learn a new technique out of these cast-on methods? Which one will you try in your next project? I want to try all of them… I’m even feeling inspired to try a moebius.
I hope you’ve found a cast-on method that will change your life!
For more cast-on methods, check out this post on how to find the perfect cast-on for your project!