One of the favourite techniques that I have learnt over the years is the provisional cast on. I have been using it in more and more of my designs. There are a few ways to do it, but I have developed a favourite.
One of the ways you can start a provisional cast on is with the use of scrap yarn. In this method you make a crochet chain and then knit into it. I would add a few extra chains than the number of stitches you need just to be on the safe side.
When you have finished knitting you take the scrap yarn out and transfer your live stitches back on to a needle ready to work with.
Pros and Cons
As with everything in life, this method has its pros and cons. For me it was a nice, quick and easy way to get going with a new project. And most of us have scrap yarn laying around and a crochet hook handy.
But I would find getting the yarn out a bit tricky and I did lose a few stitches here and there.
What’s the Alternative?
I had heard a rumour that some people used a cable from their interchangeable needles instead of scrap yarn. They would cast directly on to the cable and leave the stitches there just ready for when they wanted to use them again. So I pulled up You Tube and looked into it…..
As you can imagine, You Tube is filled with videos on how to do the provisional cast on. I watched a few and eventually decided how I wanted to go forward with this method.
I would need two sets of interchangeable needles and two balls of wool. This is how I use them to cast on…
The Zig-Zag Method
Apparently this method of casting on is officially called Judy’s Magic Cast On. I have always called it the Zig-Zag method as you zig zag between the two strands of yarn.
There are many more videos of this method on You Tube which show this cast on in a much more easy to see way. But I just wanted to give you an idea of how I do it. In this video I have used two different coloured yarns for clarity, but when you do it for your project use the same yarn on both needles.
I put both needles and cables together, make a slip-knot with the two yarns and place it over both needles just as an anchor. I separate the two yarns with my fingers and use the top one to make a loop on the bottom needle and the bottom yarn to make a loop on the top needle. Keep alternating until you have the number of stitches you want on each needle. So if I need 50 stitches I will do 50 loops on each needle or 100 in total.
The first row can be a little tight to get going, but you just knit the top stitches as you would normally. I pulled the bottom cable out of the way, took off the needle tip and replaced it with a stitch blocker. This just keeps your stitches safe and also makes knitting the first couple or rows a little bit easier.
You can now carry on knitting as you would normally, keeping your stitches nice and safe on the cable. Below you can see the provisional cast on from a project I am working on. I have used the same yarn for both sets of stitches. This project is knitted in the round, but as I always do I have knitted the first few rows flat and then joined as I find it prevents twisting.
So you have finished knitting your project and you are ready to cast off! This is where I feel this method really comes into its own. If you had used scrap yarn you would now need to transfer your stitches back on to a needle. But not this way! Simply take the stitch blockers off and replace with needle tips. And here comes the fun part! You are going to do a three-needle bind off!
How About a Project to Practice?
I absolutely love to use a provisional cast on. If you are looking for a project to practice the technique here are some of my patterns that use it!
And look out for my new pattern in February which will use a provisional cast on!
Tell Me Your Thoughts….
Over to you now! Have you used the provisional cast on before? Which method do you like? Have you tried working directly onto a cable?
If you liked this post don’t forget to check out my other posts!