Provisional Cast On – Yes You Can

Last week I was knitting mittens that had a scalloped edge and I was in a hurry. Usually I am either writing my own patterns or I read the pattern all the way through before I start knitting to avoid lines like this:

Thanks, I’ll just figure that out on my own.

Needless to say, when I got to the scalloped edge, my trusty pattern failed me. The structure of the piece was fine, but the method of construction was completely off. Specific knitting skills can take a project from impossible to simple in a matter of seconds, but these skills often times take planning. My scalloped edge for instance could have used a provisional cast on, which would have simplified the pattern one million times. It’s so easy, I’m going to show you how to do it with photographs.

First, your supplies. A provisional cast on requires a crochet hook, your knitting needle sized for your project, extra yarn in a completely different color than your project yarn, scissors and then of course your project yarn.

With your extra yarn you are going to make a slip knot and put it around the crochet hook. Don’t be scared. This is easy. Start with a big loop with the tail underneath.

Now bring the tail end of the yarn over the top of the loop and then under the loop.

Place your crochet hook at the top of the loop and tighten both the tail and working end of the yarn until the slip knot is tight on the hook.

Nice work! Now bring your knitting needle out.

Put your crochet hook and knitting needle right next to each other with the working yarn underneath the knitting needle. Eventually you will be doing this in the air, but for now, it’s easier to do it on a flat surface. The first stitch wiggles quite a bit.

With your crochet hook reach over the knitting needle and grab the yarn and bring it over so it’s wrapped around the knitting needle.

Pull the yarn on your crochet hook through your slip knot. You have just made your first provisional stitch – excellent work!

Now, take your working yarn and move in underneath your knitting needle and align your crochet hook and knitting needle next to each other so you can start the process all over. I will walk you through it again. You can scroll up to look at the photos if you need to. With your crochet hook reach over and grab your working yarn and bring it over so it’s wrapped around your knitting needle. Next, pull the working yarn through the loop and last move your yarn back underneath your knitting needle and align your hook and needle. Repeat this process until you have as many stitches as your pattern calls for.


When you’ve completed the number of stitches you need pull the yarn through the loop five or six times in a chain and then knot the end.

You can knit with these provisional stitches just like you would normally cast on stitches. If you need to divide them to knit in the round, go right ahead. These stitches work exactly the same way.

When you’re ready to use your provisional stitches, simply cut your chain and get out your extra knitting needle.

Unravel the chain and the provisional stitches will start to release, revealing a row of stitches in the color of your original work. Simply unravel the provisional stitches one by one, while picking the new stitches up with the extra needle.

Now you have two sets of stitches and the skills to take on even the most poorly written patterns.

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