When you start knitting, one of the first things that you learn is how to get the stitches onto your needles – in other words, how to cast on. And for many knitters, that first method remains their favourite – their ‘go to’ way to cast on. But as you start to gain more experience and discover all the amazing techniques that knitting has to offer, you soon realise that there’s more to casting on than meets the eye.

There is a surprisingly large number of different cast ons that you can use, many with very specific purposes. For example, there are cast ons for decorative edges, for working in multi-colours and for socks that are started at the toe. And even the most basic of cast ons give you different results.

Probably the simplest method is the knitted cast on: after putting a slip knot loop on your needle, you simply knit into that and all the subsequent stitches to cast on.

This cast on gives you quite an elastic edge with a slight ridge. Where it’s particularly useful is when you have to cast on stitches in the beginning of a row, part way through a project – all you have to do is knit into the first stitch on the row and then continue to cast on the required number of stitches.

Very similar to the knitted cast on is the cable cast on. In this method, you create the first two stitches as for the knitted cast on, but for the next stitch you knit between the first two stitches, rather than into the second stitch.

 

With this technique you’ll get a firm edge that still has a bit of give. You can use it when having to cast on at the beginning of a row and it can also be adapted to create a good cast on for ribbing. If you’re going to be working a knit-1 purl-1 rib, form the first two stitches and then purl between them to create the third stitch. Knit between the second and third stitches to create the fourth, and so on. Use the same technique for whatever ribbing you are working – knit-2 purl-2, knit-3 purl-3, etc.

Both the above cast ons use two needles; the long-tail cast on uses one needle and your thumb. As the name suggests, you start with a long tail of yarn, so before you begin you need to measure that out. There are several ways to do this: you can use about 2.5cm of yarn for each stitch you want to cast on; you can measure out a length three to four times the finished width of your project; or you can wrap the yarn around the needle ten times, then unwrap this and measure that length to work out the length required for ten stitches – multiply this accordingly.

In this method, you use your thumb to make loops in the long tail through which you draw your working yarn to form stitches.

This is a great all-purpose cast on with a good deal of stretch to it. It’s ideal for lace work or projects made in a fine weight of yarn. You also form a row of knit stitches as you cast on – so bear this in mind if you’re working in stocking stitch.

As you explore the wonderful world of knitting, you’ll come across all sorts of other cast on techniques – so have fun trying them out and don’t forget to share your experiences with the rest of the Crea community on Instagram and Facebook!