How to Cast on Knitting: The Knit Cast On

  • 01 of 05

    Begin With the Useful Slip Knot

    slip-knot.JPG
    The foundation of most cast ons is a slip knot. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    There are many different methods for casting on knitting. The 'knit cast on' is perfect for beginners because you learn how to form knit stitches as you are getting the stitches on the needle. This makes the learning process go a bit faster.

    This cast on isn't just useful for beginners; it's also a great choice when you're:

    It All Begins With a Slip Knot

    Like most cast on techniques you will encounter, the knit cast on begins with a slip knot.

    To make a slip knot:

    • Hold the yarn so that the tail of the yarn ball is hanging in front of your hand.
    • Wrap the yarn loosely behind the first two fingers of your left hand. The yarn should loop all the way around your fingers clockwise.
    • Take the part of the yarn that's attached to the ball and slip it back under the loop behind your fingers. 
    • Then slide this off your fingers, pull to tighten slightly, and slip it over the needle.
    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Opening the Loop to Make a Stitch

    openloop.JPG
    The knit cast on works just like making the knit stitch. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Once you've made your slip knot, put the needle with the slip knot in your left hand and the empty needle in your right hand.

    To begin the cast on:

    • Slide the right-hand needle into the loop on the left-hand needle, from front to back. This is known as "opening the loop" because you're piercing the loop and leaving it open for working a stitch.

    If you're familiar with how to knit, this is exactly how you start making a knit stitch.

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Wrapping the Yarn

    yarnwrap.JPG
    Wrap the yarn around the back needle to make the next stitch. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    The next step is exactly like the next step in forming a knit stitch.

    • You will loop the yarn that is attached to the ball over the point of the right-hand needle, going counter-clockwise.
    • Be careful not to loop the yarn over both needles.

    Hold the yarn loosely in your right hand. This is known as English knitting, right-hand knitting or "throwing," which is different from Continental knitting, in which the yarn is held in the left hand. You can, of course, do the same thing continental...MORE style if that's the method you want to learn.

    Watch Your Tension

    Don't pull too tightly as you wrap or your stitches will be hard to work on the next row. Your loops should be tight enough to stay on the needle, but loose enough to slide the second needle through with ease.

    This is a concept known as tension, and like in other parts of life, too much tension makes things more difficult. As you become a more experienced knitter, you'll learn what feels like the right amount of tension in your work.

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Pulling the Loop Through

    pullthrough.JPG
    Pulling the loop through the old stitch to make a new stitch. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Here's the only tricky part in mastering the knit cast on and knitting in general. It is a simple movement of the needles that creates a new loop and it seems a bit awkward at first. With practice, it will become second nature and you will not even have to think about it.

    The goal in this step is to keep the loop you just made on the right-hand needle while bringing it to the front of the work. The slip knot stays on the left-hand needle.

    • Keep holding onto the yarn with your right hand so it...MORE doesn't get away from you.
    • Slowly slide the right-hand needle down so the loop gets close to the tip of the needle, but does not slide off.
    • At the same time, the right-hand needle comes out from behind the left-hand needle. 
    • When the right-hand needle barely comes out from behind the left-hand needle, give the right needle a little push with your left index finger to push the needle in front of the left needle.
    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Finishing the Stitch

    finished-caston.JPG
    Counting the slip knot, you now have two stitches on the needle. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    You're almost done casting on a stitch with the knit cast on.

    • Now all you have to do is slide the loop that's on the right-hand needle onto the left-hand needle, above the slip knot loop.

    You now have two stitches. This isn't the way you finish a knit stitch, but all the other steps are the same, so once you get your cast on finished, you'll be ready to roll with the knit stitch.

    To cast on the desired number of stitches, simply keep repeating these steps until you have the required number of...MORE stitches on your needle.