Different ways to provisionally cast on

We all have our own bête noir that feels as if we should be able to defeat it, but somehow each time they raise their heads, they get the better of us. Three little words that strike terror into my heart are:

provisional cast on

For some reason, I really have to screw my brain up to get my fingers and needles to play nice enough to do a provisional long tail cast on. Okay, it not something  that’s called for every project – and I’m sure that’s part of the problem – but still I feel it ought to come naturally by now.

This horrible feeling sunk over me again when I read the pattern I’d chosen for the yellow sweater and discovered I needed to provisionally cast on 288 stitches.


Much as I know the only way to become proficient to keep practising, I also knew me attempting to provisionally cast on 288 stitches using the provisional long tail method, was going be like me trying to swim the channel when the only time I swim is on holiday.

I wasn’t even going to go there. But I wasn’t going to give up on my pattern. I googled. If I knew knitting, there had to be another way to do it. And there it was. More than one. But the crochet chain provisional cast on sounded good to me – this involves crocheting a chain of stitches in waste yarn, slightly longer than the number of stitches you need to cast on, then knitting into the correct number of bumps for the cast on.

I crochet a chain of about 300 stitches with some waste yarn of the same weight as the yellow.


However, it was late on and the light wasn’t good, so when I started to knit into the bumps locating them wasn’t easy. It was also very fiddly and my doubts were growing about how easily my skinny crochet chain would unravel. With heavier weight yarns it would have been easy, but not ones this thin. I went to bed and left it for the daylight.

20160214_075916 (1)

In the middle of the night, I woke with a thought; why not cast on and knit two or three rows with waste yarn then start knitting with the working yarn? When the provisional is ready for undoing, I can just cut off the cast on edge and frog the waste yarn until I reach the working stitches. I guess you could call it cast on steeking.

So that’s what I did.


I’ll certainly also use the crochet chain method for thicker yarn. I’d also still love to become proficient in provisional long tail cast on. I guess I’ll end up fumbling my yarn along with YouTube again, but what I’d really like is to take a workshop. As a kinaesthetic learner, this would be my preferred method as well as more fun and more sociable.

Anyway, moan over. The yellow sweater is at least finally cast on. My bête noir has returned to its swamp and I can get on with the knitting.

What about you? Do you have a crafting bête noir that you haven’t conquered yet?

Bekki Hill

35 thoughts on “Different ways to provisionally cast on

  1. Kitchener. I just don’t get it. I mean, in theory, I get it, you mimic the line of knitting. But I can’t do it. I sit there with 47 double pointed needles, 16 yarn ends and 10 thumbs and read the directions over and over and over,it is a struggle every time. So, I avoid patterns that call for it. Maybe I need to YouTube as well. I took a class, and it made sense in class and I could do it but when I got home, it was gone.
    However, I can do a provisional long tail cast on. Go figure. 🙂 I like your solution, though. Sometimes you just need to sleep on it. In fact, doing it your way, you don’t need to crochet the cast on – just cast on normally and knit a couple of rows. Wouldn’t that work?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s what I mean I did in the end – should have explained better! I can do Kitchener stitch, which gives me home that if you can do provisional cast on, but not Kitchener stich, one day we will both be able to do both. Try this YouTube video -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmgE7YQkrFw
      I think it’s about finding your rhythm with Kitchener stitch, but them maybe it is with all knitting?


      1. Thanls fro the link – I think you are right about the rhythm… and I don’t do enough Kitchener to get it. Maybe I should knit a few things that need it, and wait until they are all ready before I try it, so I can figure it out AND practice it a lot at once.
        As for provisional, you will get it. it is a lot like long tail cast on, but with two different yarns, not two pieces of the same yarn.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re right – I seem to come across a lot of Kitchener stitch needing patterns. Of course you actually have to want to knit them, which I guess is part of the problem sometimes 🙂 Good luck anyway with the Kitchener and thanks for the encouragement 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the provisional cast on with the crochet method 🙂 Maybe it’s because I was a crocheter before I was a knitter. I haven’t come across anything that I haven’t been able to figure out so far; however I am sure there will come a day. I can tell you that I do not like casting on stitches at the end of a row when working in the round. Congrats on starting your sweater!

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  3. I have never come across a pattern needing a provisional cast on and hope I never do.
    As you will probably have read on my most recent blog post, my bête noir is any craft project that needs stuffing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Why do you have to do this? Are you going to go back later and do something else at the bottom? I have always ignored ‘long tail cast ons’ as I may as well be told ‘liggel gobble, doo-wee’. It’s never occurred to me to Google any of these foreign instructions – now that’s something to ask ‘why?’ about 🙂

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    1. I very much believe that if something works in knitting, then you should do it that way and it doesn’t matter how anyone else does it or what others think is right or wrong. If it works it works, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.. However I have this terribly determined streak too, that just don’t like to be defeated! Right now the determined streak is winning.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I did Judy’s Magic Cast On the other day for the first time. I can’t tell you how many times I had to attempt it, but after countless youtube videos and picture tutorials I got there. I’m not looking forward to having to do it again, but I’m guessing the more I do it the easier it will become right?? The sweater pattern looks lovely 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lol. Now you just made my Monday morning. I can not “provisional cast on” despite years of knitting. Each time I try it, and I use the crochet chain method, by the way, its a nightmare. Somehow I have not yet mastered it. 🙂 I like the idea of “cast on steeking” and will rather keep that in mind for next time.
    Enjoy the yellow sweater, it is going to be worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hear ya. I crochet right onto the knitting needle. Pretty easy and no picking up stitches. Glad you thought of the other option! Knitters are resourceful!

    Liked by 1 person

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