Provisional Cast On: One-Step Method
A Provisional Cast On keeps cast-on stitches “live” so you can knit them later. It’s a very useful technique when you’re not sure what kind of edging you’ll want or how long to make something. A Provisional Cast On allows you to make these decisions when you have the actual finished piece to look at. A Provisional Cast On is also sometimes used to create underarm stitches in top-down sweaters or hems in bottom-up ones. Really, there are tons of fabulous uses of this cast on… You’ll see!
The video below demonstrates a One-Step method, which casts stitches directly onto the needle. (The Two-Step Method has you first crochet a chain and then pick up stitches from that chain.) This method is nice and efficient, and the one we tend to use nowadays!
PROVISIONAL CAST-ON, ONE-STEP METHOD: STEP-BY-STEP
MATERIALS + TOOLS
Before you cast on, make sure you have the following:
- Smooth scrap yarn similar in weight to the main yarn of your project
- A crochet hook, appropriate in size for the scrap yarn
- The knitting needles required for the pattern you’re working
To begin, make a slip knot on the crochet hook (you don’t need to leave much of a tail here and you don’t want it to be too tight). Place your knitting needle in your left hand, and with the same hand, hang onto the tail of the slip knot to keep it out of the way.
Next, cross the crochet hook in front of the knitting needle, and hold onto it with your left hand. With your right hand, bring the yarn behind the knitting needle and wrap it around to the front of the crochet hook…
…then use the hook to pull the yarn through the slip knot. You’ve cast one stitch onto your knitting needle!
Keeping the loop on the crochet hook nice and loose, repeat these steps until you have the right number of stitches for your project. Once you’ve cast on all the stitches you need, use the crochet hook to chain a few stitches, pull a little loop, and cut the yarn. You’ve cast on… What next?
JOIN MAIN YARN
At this point, you’ll be joining the main yarn and beginning to knit. Some patterns, like our Dumpling Bag, for example, might ask you to leave a certain-length tail when you join the main yarn, so it’s a good time to refer back to your pattern to check. To begin knitting, simply grab your main yarn, and starting at the chain end, knit directly into the stitches on the needle. Just pretend that the scrap yarn stitches are regular cast-on stitches and knit away to the end of the row!
WORKING IN THE ROUND
If, at the end of the first row, your pattern has you join to work in the round, join as you normally would by first making sure the stitches aren’t twisted around the needle. Place a marker for the end of round, and then knit the first stitch of the round. Simple, you’re ready to go!
REMOVE THE CAST ON
When you’re finally ready to use the cast-on stitches, you’ll need to remove the scrap yarn and get the live stitches safely onto a needle. First, turn your work so the cast-on stitches are at the top. Find the end of the round and with your working needle, pick up the right side of the first main-yarn stitch, right below the scrap yarn… Continue like you’re weaving, over a strand, under a strand, picking up the right side of each stitch all the way to the end of the round or row.
Double check that you have the right number of stitches on your needles, and then gently un-pick the tail of the chain you made and pull. This will unravel the scrap yarn from your work until you are left with only live stitches on your needles, ready to work in the other direction.
What happens next depends on your pattern, whether it’s folding the piece to create a hem, adding a special edging, or for things like bags and the toes of socks, dividing the stitches in half and closing the bottom with either Kitchener Stitch or a 3-Needle Bind Off. Don’t worry, your pattern will tell you!
And that’s it… A One-Step Provisional Cast On! Very handy and nothing to be scared about!