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Provisional cast on: needle and hook method

July 16, 2015

There are LOTS of ways to work a provisional cast on, I find this method a little less fussy than the crochet chain method, although both work just fine. I find lefties are concerned this method won’t work for them, but I assure you it is a 2 handed process (just like knitting), you don’t need to work anything differently.

materials

You will need: a crochet hook, your needle, waste yarn

Note: the size of the crochet hook doesn’t matter, the tension of your cast on is determined by your needle, not the hook.

Step 1: Using waste yarn wake a slip knot and place it over the hook

Step 2: place your needle to the left of your crochet hook with the yarn UNDER the needle

Step 3: move your hook OVER the needle, grab the yarn with your hook and pull it through the slip knot on the hook

Step 4: Once you are finished pulling through the loop, the yarn will be OVER the needle. To put it in position to work the next next stitch you need to bring it BETWEEN the needle and the hook so it is again UNDER the needle.

Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the desired number of sts are on your needle (do not include the st on the crochet hook). Once the last st has been cast on leave the yarn where it is (do not more it under the needle)

Step 5: with your hook, grab the yarn and pull a loop through the loop on the crochet hook

Work step 5 a few times – you are creating a small crochet chain that will help you when you are un-picking the provisional cast on.

Step 1: Using waste yarn wake a slip knot and place it over the hook

Step 1: Using waste yarn wake a slip knot and place it over the hook

Step 2: place your needle to the left of your crochet hook with the yarn UNDER the needle

Step 2: place your needle to the left of your crochet hook with the yarn UNDER the needle

Step 3: move your hook OVER the needle

Step 3: move your hook OVER the needle….

...grab the yarn with your hook and...

…grab the yarn with your hook and…

...pull it through the slip knot on the hook.

…pull it through the slip knot on the hook.

4. Once you are finished pulling through the loop, the yarn will be OVER the needle. To put it in position to work the next next stitch you need to bring it BETWEEN the needle and the hook so it is again UNDER the needle.

4. Once you are finished pulling through the loop, the yarn will be OVER the needle. To put it in position to work the next next stitch you need to bring it BETWEEN the needle and the hook so it is again UNDER the needle.

Once all of your sts have been cast on, make a little crochet chain so you know where to unpick later.

Once all of your sts have been cast on, make a little crochet chain so you know where to unpick later.

Now that all of your sts have been cast on you can start working with the yarn for your project. If you are working in the round, your work will not be joined in the round until the second round.

All your sts are cast on and you are ready to go!

All your sts are cast on and you are ready to go!

NOTE: The first round after this type of provisional cast on should be knit or purled. If you work ribbing or a pattern stitch it will be difficult to un-pick the provisional cast on (it will work but it doesn’t ‘unzip’ easily like it does if the first row/round is entirely knit or entirely purled)

Use your working yarn and knit or purl the first round

Use your working yarn and knit or purl the first round

So you have worked your provisional cast on (either this one or this one) and you are ready for step 2: unpicking your provisional cast on and putting the live sts on the needles.

Unpicking the provisional cast on and putting sts back on the needles:

Step 1: Unpick the knot in your crochet chain and start to unravel.

Step 2: Start picking up sts. You can either insert your needle first, then pull the provisional cast on loop out, or you can pull the provisional cast on loop out first and pick up the hanging live st.

Step 1: Unpick the knot in your crochet chain and start unraveling

Step 1: Unpick the knot in your crochet chain and start unraveling

Pick up the first stitch

Pick up the first stitch

Needle is inserted into the stitch and then the provisional cast on loop is removed

Needle is inserted into the stitch and then the provisional cast on loop is removed

If you choose to remove the provisional cast on first, then pick up the hanging st.

If you choose to remove the provisional cast on first, then pick up the hanging st.

There you have it! Continue picking up sts and un-picking the provisional cast on until you have them all. Sometimes there is one fewer stitch than you cast on, even though you don’t have any dropped sts. This happens because the pick up is actually 1/2 stitch off and it’s easy to miss the first one. Not to worry, just increase by 1 st on the next row.

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Patterns that use the provisional cast on:


13 Comments leave one →
  1. Erin permalink
    June 8, 2017 9:03 pm

    Hi and thanks for the great tutorial. You specifically say the size of the crochet hook does not matter but never mention if the waste yarn needs to be the same / similar to the actual yarn​ or if it can be significantly different. I have some cotton yarn that is worsted weight (20 st/4″) that I was wondering if I could use it as waste yarn for provisional co for DK weight j(26st/4″) project. Will that mess up my 1st row or does it not matter? Thanks for your clarity. I have searched and searched & no one seems to clarify this point

    • June 9, 2017 8:47 am

      I would use yarn that is the same weight as my project. Because you are knitting into the waste yarn on the first row you would want it to be the same weight to keep your gauge right.

  2. John Dorrance permalink
    January 31, 2017 2:04 pm

    You don’t actually need a crochet hook for the crochet cast on – I find it much easier to just use my fingers.

    • February 2, 2017 12:54 pm

      It’s true, it is do-able without the crochet hook, I just find it a lot faster (especially when casting on 200+ sts) and my tension more even

  3. August 30, 2015 11:49 am

    Thanks for sharing! A great tutorial that I have re-blogged on my site. Thanks again, Christina in Sweden

  4. July 17, 2015 4:28 am

    Reblogged this on Pointe Shoes Punk Rock And Purl and commented:
    One of the best tutorials I’ve seen for my favourite provisional cast ons.
    This may be a little tricky to learn if you are less familiar with a crochet hook but it’s very worthwhile to learn, giving the most tidy and secure start to a piece IMHO. That says a LOT from this very OCD knitter / crocheter.

  5. July 16, 2015 4:13 pm

    This is fantastic! So clear . . I always balk at doing P.C.O. Now, it seems super easy, thanks to your tutorial. Thank you!

  6. Katie Lynn permalink
    July 16, 2015 12:51 pm

    This is my FAVORITE provisional cast-on, which is odd because it seems like there aren’t a lot of tutorials that show it! This is a great one, the photos are really clear.

  7. Amy C permalink
    July 16, 2015 8:29 am

    Yes! This is my favorite provisional cast on and I’m a lefty, so I can testify that it works very well. As a lefty, though, I hold the crochet hook in my left hand so I find that passing the yarn under the needle results in a ‘backwards’ stitch mount. I usually pass the yarn over, not under the needle. Sometimes I’ve messed up and created a bunch of stitches mounted the wrong way. Rather than take it all out and start over, I just knit into the back leg of the stitches.

    • July 20, 2015 8:57 am

      Thanks for the details on how you work this as a lefty! Super useful! Cheers – Emily

  8. July 16, 2015 8:01 am

    Oh so very useful!

  9. July 16, 2015 7:37 am

    Thank you for the lovely lesson! I only started using the crochet cast-on in the last couple of weeks. I was always a bit disappointed that my starts didn’t look like my cast-offs (self-taught knitter). Now they’ll look more alike! I’m going to share this with my knitting friend.

  10. July 16, 2015 6:35 am

    I am a lefty and it works just fine for me! Thanks for posting this, i will flag for future reference as I usually have to look up crochet provisional CO.

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