Many crochet hats, blankets, shawls, doilies and toys are made from the centre out, and in most cases, it is recommended to start with a magic ring (also called magic circle) to eliminate the hole at the beginning of the work.
Magic ring is a well-know reliable technique that crocheters have been using for years. We can easily adapt this technique to knitting and make knitted top-down hats, centre-out blankets, shawls, doilies and toys without forming a hole at the starting point.
Elizabeth Zimmermann described a variation of this method as the “Emily Ocker’s Cast On” in her book “Knitter’s Almanac”. She suggested using a crochet hook, but why not use a knitting needle instead?
Here’s how we can do it step-by-step. If you are a visual learner, click here to watch the steps explained below in a video tutorial. Or, simply scroll to the bottom of this page to watch the embedded version of the video.
Make a loop with the working yarn on top of the yarn tail.
Take one needle in your right hand and insert the tip of the needle from front to back into the loop.
Pick the working yarn from behind the loop.
Pull the yarn through the loop forming a stitch.
Make a yarn over.
Repeat steps 2 through 5 to cast on the number of stitches you need for your project. To make a swatch, I’ll cast on 8 stitches.
Note that all stitches are sitting on two strands of yarn – the loop and the yarn tail. Otherwise, the magic ring might unravel and won’t be that magic any more 🙂
Arrange the stitches for working in the round. Depending on the tools you plan to use, divide all stitches evenly between two circular needles, three or four double-pointed needles or pull the cord of a long circular needle from between the two stitches in the middle to work using the magic loop method, as I did in my swatch.
If the number of stitches is even, you will finish casting on with a yarn over. Make sure it does not unravel as you move the stitches around to set up the work for knitting in the round.
Once the stitches are properly arranged, move the loop and the yarn tail to the back of the work.
STEP 7 – ROUND 1
This is a set-up round. We need it to give the stitches some “body” and to secure that last yarn over. It is also a good idea to neaten the stitches and to ensure that the yarn overs do not create holes.
To solve all these issues knit each stitch and every yarn over through the back loop.
Once the first round is worked, we get to the fun part – closing the hole at the centre of the work. Because the stitches are cast on around the loop, the only thing we need to do is to pull the yarn tail to close that loop.
If the tail managed to sneak to the right side of the work, move it to the wrong side before you close the hole.
As soon as you close the hole, you will see that the twisted stitches created in the first round form a lovely clover-like design at the very centre of the work. It is a nice side-effect of knitting stitches through the back loop.
Now, that we cast on and secured the stitches and even created a cute four-petal design, we can move on and work on the project according to the pattern instructions. I turned my cast-on edge into a circle by using the shaping instructions from the Brigitte Beret pattern.
You can work in any other pattern to make a circle, a centre-out square or any shape you like, and turn it into a beautiful blanket, shawl or a top-down hat.
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.