Get started knitting fast with these three easy cast on techniques, perfect for beginners!
If you are new to knitting, the first thing you need to learn before you even start to knit stitches is how to cast on your first row.
There are so many ways to cast on stitches, and it can get overwhelming to figure out where to start. I’ve narrowed down to easy to learn cast ons that I have used many times.
Easy Cast On Techniques We’ll Cover
With these three cast on techniques, you will be able to knit all kinds of projects! So grab a pair of knitting needles and some yarn and let’s get knitting!
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, be sure to check out my posts explaining basic knitting concepts, and basic knitting terms. These are designed to help you get started on your knitting journey!
How To Tie a Slipknot
The first step for each of these cast on techniques is to tie a slipknot onto one of your knitting needles. A slipknot is a simple knot that gives you an adjustable loop, like half of a bow you would tie on your shoes.
Depending on which type of cast on, you may make this loop a few inches from the end, or further in.
First, make a loop of yarn over your fingers so that the working end of your yarn crosses over the tail end.
Then, pull a loop of the working yarn from the back to the front of the first loop.
Pull gently on the yarn end to pull the knot closed. Now you have an adjustable loop.
Place the loop over one of your knitting needles and pull on the working end of the yarn to tighten the loop onto the needle. This counts as your first stitch, and you are ready to cast on more stitches!
The Backwards Loop Cast On
The backwards loop cast on is a super simple cast on and easy for beginners to learn.
Start by tying a slip knot and securing it to one knitting needle. This is your first stitch.
Hold the knitting needle in your right hand. Then hold the working yarn over hand with the fingers of your left hand and hook your left thumb around the yarn from the top clockwise, to create a loop around your thumb.
Then slide your knitting needle into the loop around your thumb from beneath.
Take your thumb out of the loop and tighten it to the knitting needle. Now you have two stitches on your knitting needle.
Repeat the loops until you have as many stitches as you need to start your pattern. Then start knitting!
- Easy to learn
- Quick to make
- Tail length doesn’t matter
- Great for mid-pattern cast ons like buttonholes and mitten thumbs
- Easy to loose stitches when knitting the first row
- Difficult to work off of
- Can be too tight
The Knit Cast On
This is another quick cast on that uses the same method as the knit stitch. You can learn to cast on and knit at the same time!
Just like our other techniques, start with a slip knot and secure it to one knitting needle. Hold this needle in your left hand.
Insert the right-hand needle into the in the slip knot from the bottom, keeping the right needle behind the left.
Next, wrap the working yarn around the right needle counterclockwise.
Be careful to use the working end of the yarn, not the tail end.
If you want to learn about how to hold your yarn and needles, be sure to check out this post about different knitting styles.
Using the right needle, pull the working yarn through the slip knot. You will now have a stitch on the left needle and a stitch on the right needle.
Using the left-hand needle, come through the stitch on the right-hand needle from beneath. Remove the right-hand needle from the stitch. You should now have two stitches cast onto the left-hand needle.
Working from the most recent stitch, continue knitting more stitches in the same way until you reach the number of stitches you need for your pattern.
Once you get comfortable with this technique, it can go quite fast. You can keep making stitches continuously without removing the right-hand needle from each loop.
- Fast cast on
- learn cast on and knit stitch at the same time
- Tail length doesn’t matter
- Creates stable stitches to work off of
- Only creates one row during cast on
The Long Tail Cast On
The long tail cast on is a great technique. It is a bit more complicated to learn than the previous cast ons, but creates a beautiful cast on edge that is easy to knit off of. It also creates two rows of stitches at once!
Before You Cast On
The most important part of the long tail cast on is starting at the right point on your yarn. Like the name suggests, you will need a long tail of yarn to create this cast on. As you cast on stitches, you will use yarn from the working end and from the tail end, so you don’t want to run out as you cast on.
How long of a tail you need depends on how many stitches you need and how big the size of your knitting needles is. The more stitches and the bigger the needles, the longer tail you will need.
I have a bad habit of just guessing how long to make my tail. Sometimes it’s long enough, sometimes it’s too short, and I have to start my cast on over.
There are different ways you can estimate how much yarn you need for your tail. The easiest way I know is to start at the tail end of your yarn (leave a few inches for weaving in) and quickly wrap the yarn around your needles as many times as the number of stitches you want to cast on.
No matter how you want to calculate or guess how long of a tail you need, always leave a longer tail than you think.
After finding a point on your yarn that will give you a sufficiently long tail, tie a slip knot and secure it to one knitting needle. This is your first stitch.
Hold the knitting needle in your right hand with the tip pointing toward your left hand. You will want the tail end of the yarn closer to you, and the working end on the far side of the needle.
Drape the ends of the yarn over your left hand so the tail end is over your thumb, and the working end is over your left hand. Hold the ends of the yarn with the remaining three fingers of your left hand.
Tip: Use the pointer finger of your right hand to keep the stitches on the knitting needle as you cast on stitches.
With your right hand, gently pull the knitting needle toward you so that a loop is visible around your left thumb. Coming from underneath, insert the knitting needle into the loop around your thumb.
Cross the knitting needle over to the working yarn strand over your left pointer finger. Wrap the working end of the yarn over the knitting needle counterclockwise.
Pull the working yarn through the tail loop of yarn around your left thumb.
Remove your thumb from the loop of yarn and bring it underneath the knitting needle and press on the length of tail yarn to tighten the stitch on the knitting needle.
You now have two stitches cast on.
Keep casting on stitches in the same manner until you have the number of stitches you need for your knitting pattern.
- Quick cast on
- Knits two rows at once
- Easy to knit on
- Easy to keep tension even
- Difficult to get the right tail length
- More complicated movement to make stitches
Now Get Knitting!
I hope these three easy cast on techniques help you get started on your knitting journey. They were some of the first methods I learned, and I have used them for years.
The long tail cast on is my personal favorite of these three techniques, even when I lose at yarn chicken and have to start over again.
If you want to learn more about knitting, click here.
What is your favorite cast on? Let me know in the comments below!