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Pinhole Cast On Tutorial

May 25, 2012

The pinhole cast-on is an elegant way to start a piece of knitting from the centre.  It is used to begin circular and square shawls, blankets, top-down hats, and other similar items.  The POP! , Dogwood , and Vivid blankets all use the pinhole cast on.

While you may find it quite awkward the first, second, and perhaps third time you try it, it becomes easy with practice, and is a useful technique to add to your knitting repertoire.


Note: I have described and illustrated these instructions using a knitting needle, because that is how I do it, however you may find it easier to use a crochet hook instead, and then transfer the cast-on stitches onto knitting needles at the end.  The instructions are the same in either case, so you can try both and see which way suits you best.

To begin, create a circle using the end of the yarn.  Pinch the circle in your LH, and hold the needle and working yarn in your RH.  You will create new stitches using the point of the needle, working into the centre of the circle.

1.    insert needle into circle from front to back
2.    wrap yarn around needle
3.    use needle point to bring loop through circle from back to front (1 new loop on needle)
4.    wrap working yarn around needle point (2 new loops on needle)
5.    use finger to lift first loop over second loop and off the needle : 1 loop remains, this is one stitch cast-on

Repeat steps 1-5 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches.  Pull on the yarn end to close the circle up to a tiny spot in the centre of the work.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

So here’s what it looks like close-up:

Pinhole Cast On - Make a Loop

Pinhole Cast On - hold loop in LH

Pinhole Cast On - insert and wrap

Pinhole Cast On - pull loop up

Pinhole Cast On - lift first loop over second

Pinhole Cast On

Pinhole Cast On - several CO

It must be noted that this technique is also referred to as the Emily Ocker cast-on.  So many fabulous Emilys in the knitting world eh?  Is that too cheeky or what?!

Did you try this tutorial and it’s not doing it for you?  Other knitters who have also described how to do this cast on:  Watch a video at by MountainMom [here] or see a photo tutorial by Theresa at SpellingTuesday [here]

What have you been struggling with?  Are there any techniques that you would love to learn?  Is there something you think that we should cover on the blog?  We love to hear from our readers, so be sure to pop us an email!

Like this?  Share on Facebook and get our email updates! Thanks for your support, ♥ Emily & Alexa

Patterns that use the pinhole cast-on:

Dogwood BlanketPOP blanketDrift Blanket

59 Comments leave one →
  1. Petrona permalink
    October 15, 2020 8:21 pm

    Hello. I hope you can help me with the crossed cardigan. After watching tutorials, I got the pinhole CO. NOW I am struggling with the math of beginning after CO 8 plus round 1 (+4 stitches from YO’s)=12. Now chart A rounds 1, 3, 5, and 7 with 4 stitches per round, total 16 additional stitches: 12+16=28. How do I get to 36 total after 8 rows of chart A? Pls help. Thanks.

  2. August 15, 2020 1:55 am

    Dear Emily and Alexa
    I watched Mountain Mums Tutorial ,it made more sense of what u were trying to say and it brought back memories of my crocheting days..😁.Thank you. The Dogwood blanket is beautiful.

  3. Carol permalink
    December 17, 2019 5:13 am

    I can manage to get the first stitch cast on. I don’t know which loop to use to cast on the second stitch?

    • December 17, 2019 3:10 pm

      Hi Carol – it’s the same loop, you are casting all the stitches onto the same loop. Does that help?

  4. Betty C Long permalink
    July 1, 2019 3:18 pm

    I am frustrated as I cannot find how to get to your knit alongs. I have clicked on the link to your blog and it takes me to the CO. I need to watch as you knit the German short rows. I am confused at that point.

  5. February 15, 2018 10:59 am

    Best damned instruction I’ve come across ! I’ve spent HOURS watching videos and swearing horribly … :D

  6. Amanda Keane permalink
    April 22, 2016 12:39 pm

    I am working on the POP blanket and it is so beautiful but my cast off remains super tight. Any suggestions?

    • April 24, 2016 10:18 am

      Try the stretchy bind off recommended in the pattern and try going up a few needle sizes for the bind off.

  7. binkydiva permalink
    February 23, 2016 8:55 pm

    Just got the Vivid blanket pattern and used this tutorial to learn how to do the pinhole cast-on. Thank you so much! The great drawings make it so easy to follow! It took me 3 tries (and one change of yarn) to get it just right, and I have finished my first test square. Can’t wait to try another one!!!

  8. Casey Valverde permalink
    November 7, 2015 9:32 am

    I just bought the POP! pattern. Printed it out, got out my GORGEOUS Noro yarn, and needles. I looked at the pattern for the first time and my heart sunk when I saw that I had to learn a new cast on.

    All that happened about three minutes ago. Thank you SO much for such an easy cast on tutorial!! :D

  9. Ann permalink
    October 21, 2015 7:41 am

    I’d like to enlarge one circle of the pop blanket to make a circular cushion cover. Can you advise me how to go about increasing the circle to make it much larger than in the pop blanket please?

  10. Kalli permalink
    October 14, 2015 10:45 pm

    Thank you very much; this is he first time I have understood this cast on because your pictures are so clear.

  11. Margie permalink
    September 23, 2015 11:54 pm

    Keep coming back to this page to refresh my memory! Knit the Vivid blanket and loved the pattern and the results. Thanks for your creativity and clarity!!

    • September 29, 2015 6:23 am

      You’re welcome!

    • June Grayston permalink
      February 7, 2016 7:40 pm

      Marie – I am about to attempt the Vivid blanket and am apprehensive. What does it mean by wet block the squares ??

      • February 8, 2016 8:48 pm

        Wet blocking is just getting your square wet (I soak it in cool water in the sink), then laying it flat to dry, or better yet, pinning it to a mat or piece of cardboard to really show off the lace

      • June Grayston permalink
        February 10, 2016 11:49 pm

        Thanks for that. Now just to master the cast on 😊😊

  12. StumptownSHE permalink
    September 25, 2014 11:37 am

    Amazing hand-drawn tutorial! I’ve never had such an easy time learning a new knitting technique – thank you!

  13. lilafreckle permalink
    April 27, 2014 2:39 am

    I have been enjoying knitting up the POP Blanket for my little one, but I do have an observation to make regarding your Pinhole Cast On Tutorial. I looked at your images again and again and keep on coming up with the same result: my stitches end up twisted after the cast on (I am casting on using knitting needles). This leads me to think that one of your images might be faulty. I think it is due to the image in step 4, where the yarn wraps from front to back instead of back to front as in step 2. It seems logical that this can’t be, as with a crochet hook one would always grab the yarn the same way? Or am I missing something obvious? I did try to wrap the yarn from back to front for step 4, but this gets really tricky with a knitting needle. In the end I just opted for readjusting my loops when knitting them up.

  14. Helen D permalink
    April 13, 2014 10:00 am

    how fabulous! worked beautifully first time! thankyou :)

  15. Debbie permalink
    January 12, 2014 11:31 pm

    First off I just want to say I love this!!!
    I know that I’m probably being dense but….. I prefer Magic Loop and I can’t seem to wrap my ahead around the yarn overs that end up being at the end of a needle. Any insight would be greatly appreciated :) (I should mention that it’s 11:30 pm so maybe I’m just tired?) LOL

    • January 23, 2014 2:21 pm

      Hi Debbie – thanks for your question! When I get to the end of one of the needles in magic loop, and the lace pattern has a yarn-over at the end of the needle, what I do is work the yarn over as usual (wrap the yarn from the back, to the front, then over the needle to the back of the work). Then I use my left hand to pinch that yarn over on the needle, while I rotate the work 180 degrees, so that the needle I just worked onto is in the back… keeping my left hand pinched over the yarn over prevents it from falling off the needle. Then I push the old LH needle back into the new 1/2 of the stitches, and pull out the old LH needle, drawing the tip under the working yarn. Then I work the first stitch right away, thus ‘trapping’ the yarn-over, so it’s in place and can’t go anywhere.

      Not sure if this description is clear… but best to try it when you’re not too tired! Good Luck!

  16. November 24, 2013 1:22 am

    I want to know what is w&t

  17. November 24, 2013 1:20 am

    I want what is w&t

  18. Shirley Donohue permalink
    October 13, 2013 12:10 pm

    Just took the class yesterday at Verb in Oakland. Enjoyed the class and loved to be spending time learning new skills. Got myself a new pattern book too! Emily was very patient and fun to learn from (I was next to the “rapid turn” as I dubbed her as she was speedy in the w&t’s). Can’t wait to get my blanket under way…

    • October 13, 2013 2:10 pm

      Hi Shirley – thanks for coming out yesterday! It was a very enjoyable class and such a lovely place to teach! Good luck with the blanket, and be sure to share it on the Tin Can Knits ravelry group too! Warmly, Emily

  19. July 15, 2013 6:08 pm

    I guess I am stupid but do you recommend knitting Vivid in the round or with double pointed needles

    • July 15, 2013 10:16 pm

      Solid question, I used dpns to start, then switched to a circular for the border. Emily used magic loop for the whole thing.


  20. helen h permalink
    February 24, 2013 4:02 pm

    When you go on to start knitting (in Dogwood specifically, but I guess anywhere) would you recommend transferring to DPNs or do you use a magic loop technique?

    • February 24, 2013 10:34 pm

      Hi Helen

      I hate to give you conflicting advice but it’s really just a preference. I prefer double pointed needles for something small like that but Emily loves the magic loop. Both will work!


  21. February 19, 2013 8:41 am

    Thank you for the tutorial. I love the pictures! I looked in several knitting books and nothing! Now I can start knitting the POP blanket!

  22. Gemma permalink
    January 3, 2013 9:13 am

    Cast on was fine, I used a crochet hook though, bind off however had me a bit confused

  23. December 26, 2012 1:40 pm

    This cast on is essentially for crocheters and has been around for eons. It’s called the Magic loop.

  24. melodye permalink
    October 8, 2012 5:15 am

    This is really a great cast-on for knitting in the round! I love it!

  25. May 26, 2012 2:26 pm

    I can’t believe that’s knitted! I love the colours of the circular throw. :)


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