When a project requires steep increases, the pattern will instruct us to cast on a certain number of stitches at the beginning of a row. At first, it might seem confusing, because we usually cast on stitches when there are no stitches on the needles, not when we are already halfway through the project.
Despite the confusion, casting on stitches at the beginning of a row is a fairly simple task. There are at least three ways to do it, with each way creating a slightly different edge.
Let’s take a look at these ways one by one.
If you prefer to learn by watching a video tutorial, click here.
This is probably the most common way to cast on stitches at the beginning of a row. It’s a variation of the backwards loop cast on, but we make it with the working needle in the left hand. Here’s how to do it step by step.
1. Hold the working needle in your left hand so that the working yarn is at the right side of the work.
2. Place your right index finger from front to back under the working yarn, as it is shown in the photo below and in this part of the video tutorial.
3. Now rotate the finger counter-clockwise to make a yarn loop with the working yarn at the back of the loop.
4. Place this loop on the left needle, and pull the working yarn to adjust the size of this new stitch we’ve just created.
Repeat these steps to cast on as many stitches as you need for the project. Then work the newly cast on stitches according to the instructions in the pattern.
The edge created by this cast on is a bit loose (as any edge created by backwards loop cast on), and it works great only when you plan to seam this edge. The loops at the bottom of the edge are easy to see when you stitch the project later on.
Plus, this edge won’t add any unnecessary bulk to the seam. That means the project will look better and will be more comfortable to wear.
This time we’ll use the knitted cast on. It is easy to make because it requires the same steps as knitting, except for the last part when we slip the original stitch off the left needle. With this cast on we are not going to slip stitches. Instead, we’ll be adding more and more of them to the left needle.
1. Hold the working needle in your left hand so that the working yarn is at the right side of the work (just as we did in step 1 of way #1).
2. Insert the tip of the right needle from left to right into the first stitch on the left needle.
3. Wrap the tip of the right needle with the working yarn and pull the wrap through the stitch creating a new stitch.
4. Place the new stitch on the left needle. If necessary, pull the working yarn a bit to adjust the size of the stitch.
Remember NOT to slip the original stitch off the left needle! We are not knitting stitches. We are adding more stitches to the project.
Repeat these steps to cast on as many stitches as you need. Then follow the pattern to work the next row.
The edge created by the knitted cast on is more firm than the edge created by the backwards loop cast on. It is also not bulky and will do well in a seam.
If you are looking for a nice sturdy edge that you’ll be able to show off on an open side of the project, cast on stitches using way #3.
This way uses the cable cast on to add more stitches to the project at the beginning of a row. A bit fiddly (especially for a tight knitter!) but overall a great way to cast on stitches, the cable cast on creates a firm edge that looks nice and holds shape well. Let’s give it a try.
1. Just as we did before we cast on stitches using ways #1 and #2, hold the working needle in your left hand with the yarn at the right side of the work.
2. Insert the tip of the right needle from front to back between the first and the second stitches on the left needle.
3. Wrap the tip of the right needle with the yarn and pull the wrap through creating a new stitch.
If the fabric is tight, it could be a bit tough to complete this step. It helps to move the first stitches closer to the tip of the left needle. This way, the right needle will get more room, and it will be easier to pull the yarn wrap through the opening between two stitches.
4. Now place the new stitch on the left needle.
Repeat these steps to cast on more stitches. When you make a new stitch, if necessary, adjust its size, but don’t make the stitch too tight. The tighter the stitch, the harder it will be to cast on the next stitch, so keep the new stitches moderately loose.
Now you know three ways to cast on stitches at the beginning of a row. Each way has its little “pros” and “cons”, but none of them is difficult or overly complicated.
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.
Dealing with Unfinished Projects
Dictionary of Knitting Symbols and Abbreviations – E-Book
Eastern (Russian) Knitting Simplified
Knitting Collection #6
Simple Socks in Any Size with Any Yarn
Top-Down Hat in Any Size with Any Yarn