There are many modifications to the original Magic Cast On that was developed by Judy Becker 15 years ago. I tested all variations I could find to come up with a way that is the easiest and the most efficient.
The method explained in this tutorial is a blend of several adjustments and it works well for different setups that allow us to knit in the round. You can use this technique when you work with double-pointed needles, two circular needles or one long circular needle using the magic loop.
It could be a bit tricky to make this cast on with a very short circular needle, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Otherwise, it is a great way to start toe-up socks, seamless bags (like the Rope Bag), toys and any other projects that should begin from a closed edge.
If you are a visual learner, click here to watch every step described below in a video tutorial. Or, simply scroll to the bottom of this page to watch an embedded version of the video.
Align two needles and hold them in your right hand so that one needle is at the top and the other one is at the bottom.
With your left hand, place the working yarn between the needles from back to front.
Then move the tail over the top needle, making a yarn wrap. This wrap forms the first stitch on the top needle.
This part is different from the original method described by Judy Becker. We start with a yarn wrap instead of a slip knot to make sure the sides of the cast-on edge are smooth.
Slip knot is not flexible and it often causes visible stiffness at one side of the edge. We can easily avoid it by making a yarn wrap instead.
Just as we do when we use the long-tail cast on, place the yarn tail on your left thumb and the working yarn on your left index finger and hold both strands with your other three left fingers.
If you plan to cast on many stitches, make sure the yarn tail is long enough.
This cast on is easy because there are just three simple rules that we need to follow to cast on more stitches. Once we understand these rules, casting on becomes a breeze.
Here they are:
- We usually cast on stitches in pairs – one stitch on the top needle, then one stitch on the bottom needle. We do it because most projects that require a closed-toe cast on start with two equal sets of stitches.
- We always wrap the yarn around each needle in the same way – from the bottom of the needle to the front and over the top. This rule does not only make it easier to remember the process but also forms stitches in the correct orientation so that we can knit all stitches through the front loop in the first round.
- We always use the yarn that comes from the thumb (the bottom strand) to add stitches to the top needle and the yarn that comes from the index finger (the top strand) to add stitches to the bottom needle. To make it easy to remember, think “bottom needle – top strand, top needle – bottom strand”.
Let’s see how these rules work in two simple steps.
STEP 1 – ADDING A STITCH TO THE BOTTOM NEEDLE
Move the needles so that the bottom needle lays on the top strand (the strand that comes from your left index finger).
Wrap the top strand around the bottom needle from front to back.
The yarn wrap that we’ve just formed is our next stitch.
STEP 2 – ADDING A STITCH TO THE TOP NEEDLE
Move the needles so that the bottom strand (the one that comes from your left thumb) is between the needles, that is, at the bottom of the top needle.
Wrap the bottom strand around the top needle from front to back.
We’ve just formed another stitch on the top needle.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you make as many stitches as you need for your project. For example, if the pattern tells you to cast on 12 stitches in total, stop adding stitches when you have 6 stitches on the top needle and 6 stitches on the bottom needle.
Twist the yarn tail and the working yarn after you cast on the last stitch to keep that stitch from unravelling.
Take both needles in your left hand and work the first round.
If you work with two circular needles or one long circular needle and the magic loop technique, pull the bottom needle to the right to move the bottom set of stitches to the cable of the circular needle. Use the bottom needle to knit the stitches on the top needle.
If you work with double-pointed needles, knit half of the stitches of each set with one needle and the other half with another needle. This way, you’ll have all stitches evenly distributed between four needles after you finish the first round.
Unlike several other popular closed-toe cast-on techniques, magic cast on does not form loose stitches at the cast-on edge even when our tension is not perfect. They don’t call it “magic” for no reason 🙂
This cast on is simple and easy to remember. It always forms a nice-looking seamless edge without any ridges on the wrong side of the work.
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