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How to Cast On

June 14, 2013

The starting point for a piece of knitted fabric is called the cast on.  You can’t knit until you have cast on, so grab some needles and yarn, and cast on now!

There are many different cast on methods (each with different properties), but we will start with the ‘knitted on’ cast on method first.

Knitted fabric is formed of a series of loops (called stitches). To start casting on, make a slip knot as your first stitch.

1. make a loop in the end of the yarn.
2. push another loop of yarn through that loop.
3. voila – you have a slip knot.  Place the loop it on the needle.

How to make a slip knot

Now that you have your first stitch on the needle,  hold the needle in your left hand (LH needle) and take a look at it.

The stitch has two ‘legs’ – one in the front of the needle, and one at the back.  From now on, whenever you knit (or purl) you will begin by inserting the right hand knitting needle (RH needle) in between the front and back leg of the stitch.

1. insert the RH needle from front to back into the stitch
2. wrap the yarn around the point of the RH needle
3. use the RH needle tip to pull a loop of the working yarn out from back to front, through the first stitch.
4. place this new loop on the LH needle.

You now have 1 more stitch on the needles (2 total).

Simply continue to repeat steps 1-4 (always working into the last stitch you placed on the LH needle) until you have the desired number of stitches.

How do you know how many stitches you have?  Easy – just count the number of loops on your LH needle.  The slipknot you made first counts as a stitch.

How to count your cast on stitches


TENSION: Don’t pull tightly on the new loop after placing it on the LH needle, or the stitch will be too tight for you to insert your needle into it when you knit the next row.  You will be able to tell if you cast on too tightly, because you will find it awkward when attempting to knit the next row – in this case start again with a looser cast-on.

KNITTING FRIENDS: Sometimes casting on can seem like the most complicated part of a knitting project.  If you can’t get it, just find a friend to cast on for you.  After a little practice at knitting, casting on will seem much simpler!  Don’t know any knitting friends?  Well, you should!  Generous and welcoming knit groups exist in most places, and are a great place to learn knitting and meet new people.  Just google “knit group Vancouver” and see what pops up!

Are you ready to start a project, and practice casting on?  We suggest starting with the Wheat Scarf, or the Malt blanket.  These are the first two designs from The Simple Collection, a free step-by-step learn to knit program.  Each beginner pattern is explained by tutorials (like this one), and you can share them with your friends, or if you are a teacher, you can use them in your classes!  If you get our email updates, we can let you know when new free patterns and tutorials are released!

Do you teach knitting?  For Simple Collection PDF handouts for knitting teachers, click here.

Simple Collection Designs by Tin Can Knits:

Malt Blanket

29 Comments leave one →
  1. Julie permalink
    September 11, 2021 12:40 pm

    This article says “Links to other methods can be found here”. When I click on “here” it takes me to the new site and I can’t find any info on other methods. I could have sworn there were instructions for a long tail cast on but I can’t find it anywhere.

  2. Jude permalink
    September 12, 2019 7:39 am

    Which cast on method would you use for flax light pullover.

  3. Wendy permalink
    February 10, 2018 4:16 pm

    First time knitting a top down garment (Lush) and I’m wondering what technique you use for the underarm cast on when separating sleeves from the body? Thanks.

  4. Jen permalink
    October 3, 2017 5:41 pm

    Would a leftie just mirror this? I’m kinda ambidextrous, but I already crochet left-handed. Thanks!

    • October 3, 2017 8:27 pm

      Hi Jen – I find knitting to be a 2 handed process (like playing the piano), so I wouldn’t change a thing. You might just want to try holding your yarn in your left hand, as opposed to your right, but lots of righties do that too

  5. Jackie Ohlson permalink
    September 18, 2017 8:50 am

    I just started the Easy Peasy hat pattern and have finished both ear flaps. I’m not sure how to cast on at this point since I already have stitches on my circular needle.

  6. Christine Bolduc permalink
    March 20, 2017 7:20 am

    Very helpful, thanks !

  7. sherry permalink
    July 15, 2016 1:34 am

    I have started the malt blanket–I used the knitted cast on that I learned just now–the long tail cast on is the only one I had been taught –wish me luck and thank you for offering this

    • Veronica permalink
      August 6, 2016 5:03 pm

      Sherry are you using the same yarn to make the malt blanket? If so where did you purchase it?

  8. Rosemary permalink
    March 9, 2015 12:18 pm

    Hi, I want to knit a stocking stitch touque for wearing hunting jusy plain, I have made your Antler hat & your barley hat & find your sizing to be very accurate.I was wondering if I could use one of your free hat patterns that would give me best results using 4mm &5ml needes that would provide me the besr results for 22 in mans touque.Hope you can help me out.Many thanks.Rosie

  9. Cathy permalink
    November 5, 2014 6:18 pm

    Where can I buy the yarn to make the baby blanket entitled Malt?


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