Provisional Cast on


Knit Maker: Skills & Technique


Lesson Info

Provisional Cast on

Just as a refresher for a slipknot, to do that you're gonna leave a little bit of a tail, you don't need much, just in general, just you know, a few inches. You make a little loop de loop or a cursive E. The strand that's on top, you're going to bring under and push through the loop. And that will give you your slipknot. Alright, then, you're gonna place it on your hook and you're gonna pull it so it's not tight, but taut. You want it to be able to move back and forth. I should probably stop for a second and explain to you why we're doing this. So this is called a provisional cast on. The purpose for it is there are pieces that you might knit that require either a pickup for a special lacy edging or to be grafted together later, so you wanna keep the stitches live, meaning you don't want a solid cast on, you want there to be actual stitches that you can place on your knitting needles after. That's what this cast on will do for you, and I'll explain a little more in a second. Okay, so w...

hat you would do is you would just chain as many stitches as your pattern says to cast on for. So let's say you're knitting a lace scarf and it says cast on 25 stitches or whatever. It's a skinny scarf, work with me (chuckles). And you would chain that many, but then also several more. The number doesn't actually matter, but you want it to be longer. So to make a chain stitch you're gonna hold your hook in your right hand, or left hand if you're left-handed, but I'm a right-hander so I'm gonna do this. You're going to pinch the knot between your middle finger and thumb, and then I like to place my working yarn, and that is the yarn that is attached the to ball, around my finger and I also, if we're getting really nitpicky, and this is the class to do it, right? I also try and hold it a little bit taut so that it keeps the yarn from being too loose, which makes it very difficult to create the actual loop, and I'll show you what I mean. Okay, so, we're gonna take our hook and we're gonna scoop the yarn, or wrap it counter clockwise and then we let the hook do the work for us. We turn it a little a bit while we're sliding, and see when you turn it it automatically grabs it, and you're gonna pull it through, and that's your first chain stitch. Okay, so then you would go again. You'd scoop the yarn, pull it through. Now let me show you what happens if you don't hold this taut, the yarn taut. There's no grab to it, right? That's a mess. So, as you're working you start at the knot, but I always recommend pinching kind of close to where the hook is. So we're gonna go ahead and just keep doing this until you have I don't know, let's say 15, 20, it really doesn't matter for the purpose of this instruction. Okay. You keep going. Okay for me, I'm talking to me, you at home, you just chain your little hearts out. I'm gonna set up some other supplies that I need for this while you continue chaining. So what I've done is after I've completed my chain, I snip the yarn, create a little tail, yarn over, pull it through, and that's fastened off, and that is just my little setup for this. I'll set my supplies aside, you keep working. I'm gonna grab some other supplies so we're gonna get started with the actual knitting needles. Let's see if I have actual needles that will fit with this. Here I can use these. How many were we doing? It doesn't really matter, but let's say 15. That's a good, let's do that. I should also say that it's a really good idea, you should use a similar weight to the yarn that your project's gonna be in, but I actually like to use a contrasting color, I just find that it's easier if you are feeling like super awesome and trust in yourself you can use the same color, I just feel like it helps to use a contrasting color. So I'm gonna grab another color. Okay, so how are we, does anybody have questions so far on just the chain? 'Cause this is a knitting class, I just threw crochet at you the very first second, I didn't even warn you. See how it is? Does it matter which way you wrap the yarn? It does. Well, the Vickie in me says yes it does, because if you're ever going to go on to crochet, like move on to crochet projects, it's a really good habit to get in. The truth is is that if your stitch is twisted for this particular thing, it's not gonna change your provisional cast on. But I would love for you to have the foundation to able to be a crocheter too in the future, so if you did the counter clockwise I would heart you forever. Okay? Any other questions? I know that Sharon's a crocheter. Is anybody else in this room a crocheter? Tried it, can't get it. Alyssa, yeah. Tried it, can't get it. Okay, then I'm comin' over to you. I'm comin' to you. Okay, so do you have the slipknot portion? Oh wait, you did it. Oh, I did the, I can do chain. Oh, okay I thought we were in panic mode. I was ready to buckle everyone down at home (laughs). Like, come closer. Um, well I actually have crochet, like crochet maker courses if you ever decide you want to, and I take you from very, very beginning how to hold the hook, everything. Excellent. As far as you wanna go. All the way through 201 courses. So CreativeLive, check it out. I will find 'em out. Alright, so now that we have our little chain, we are going to flip it over and you'll see kind of what looks like, well, if you can see this, they look like little noses, little loops in the back. That's what we want. So we wanna have a couple on either end that are just not used. So we wanna grab the yarn, our working yarn, whatever our yarn in the project's gonna be, we're gonna grab our knitting needle, and we're gonna go in a couple, and we're gonna pick up stitches through it. So there's one. And to pick up I'm just yarning over and pulling through. But you by all means just get it done however you can pick up the stitches. What you're doing is you're picking up what will be live loops, and this is gonna take place of just a traditional cast on, so you won't have to do any form of cast on after this. This is it. Okay, I didn't quite see how, It didn't seep in how you started that. Okay, then lets pull it out and let's start again. Okay. So, we have our piece laying flat, right? And you'll see there's two sides to your chain. Like if you have it on one side you see what looks like a series of kind of upside-down raindrops, if that makes sense, that's not the side we want, not the V side. You wanna flip it over so that you can see the side that has the bumps or what I call tiny noses. Do you see it? Did I hear an oh? Oh, I like that, I like that. Okay, so you're gonna count a couple in, and it doesn't matter, I say a couple, it honestly doesn't matter. I just don't want you to go on that very first or second stitch. Give it a little space. You're gonna insert the needle through that loop, or through that bump. Marsha Anne, are you with me so far? I think so, yeah. Okay, I believe in you! So through the bump? The bump, just the bump, yeah. So then, you're gonna introduce your new yarn. You lay that yarn over the needle and you kinda have to be a little creative with your hands right here, I just kind of grab it so it's secure. And then you scoop it through so that you pull up a loop. Does that make sense? Yeah, it does. I'm gonna wait for you, I'm gonna wait until I see it happening. I mean, in theory, you could also use a crochet hook if that was easier for you. What did I do with my crochet hook? Oh, here it is. If you wanted to do that, you could go to the next one. I'm not sure that that's necessarily easier, but here's another option. And you could yarn over and pull it through. I'm kind of making this up on the fly, it may not be a good option. Well, it works okay. And then you could then slide it on the needle. But honestly, I think that gets fussy, so just take your time. What's happening, I hear some mumbles. I've got one done, I think. One and done, that's great. That's a great foundation. So then, just keep going and actually you did the hardest part, so the first stitch is gonna be the hardest one because there's nothing to keep it secure. So, I have part of my chain where I can't tell where the little nubby things are, it looks almost like it's twisted. I'm coming over, I'm coming in. Okay, so. I was doing okay, and then I got to there and now I can't tell where the nubs are. Okay, so I think what you did is you just kind of twisted your chain and that's not a big deal, so really just fake it 'til you make it, which is basically my philosophy for life. (Olivia laughs) That looks pretty bumpy, what happened was when you crocheted, the tail turned, so you went in a different, totally fine. It doesn't actually matter, really what you just want is a place for it to anchor, right? So just go to the next. Okay, so it'll still pull out fine? It'll totally pull out fine, and honestly, if it didn't pull out fine, you could take little scissors to just the crocheted part, and that's another great reason to use a contrasting yarn versus the same yarn so that you don't accidentally cut your working yarn. Make sense? How are we doing? How are people at home doing so far? So far, so good, mhm. We're all good, we're good? Alright, so let's go ahead and continue doing this, and you would do this until you had however many stitches were called for for the pattern for whatever you are making. Sometimes this cast on is called for if you were making something, it could be if you were making a sock that had a little lacy edging, that you need to pick up the stitches so that they work upward instead of downward, same goes for the edge of a scarf. I've done it before when I've designed wraps that had sort of a wavy design pattern to them, because if you just kept going and knitting and made one piece, one edge would be straight and one would be wavy, and that wasn't my gig for that, so I wanted them both to have the exact same edges, so I had two pieces that I wanted to graft together later. It looks so much cleaner to not have a seam, and this way you wouldn't have a seam. Alright, so. We have a quick question from home. Yes, ma'am? Can I do this cast on for every knit project? So, can you do this cast on for every knit project? No, you really can't because, I mean you can, but you would be creating an extra step for yourself because what it would mean, and this is gonna make a little more sense after I show you pulling it out, but what happens is that you're gonna have live stitches, so if you think about you're knitting just a plain scarf, just a plain stockinette or rib stitch, whatever scarf, you need that solid edge, right? You need that solid foundation. So what's gonna happen is, you're gonna have completely live stitches on the end, so that would mean that you would need to pull this out, put these stitches on a needle, and then bind off. You could do it, but there's not really a purpose for it unless you have some awesome design in your mind and then by all means, like, rock on with your bad self. But it really, it just creates an extra step that's unnecessary for most projects that don't need to be grafted together or worked in another direction. Make sense? Alright. Alright, so. We're getting there. So I have, I'm having to fight my stitches a little bit because I actually used a smaller crochet hook than I am knitting needles. And I told you before it doesn't matter, and it doesn't really matter but ideally you would use the same millimeter size of hook and needles. Use what you've got, and what I mean by that is, this is a five millimeter hook, it's an H, but in millimeters, well that translates to, a US size 8 knitting needle. I didn't have one of those handy, so this is a 9, which means it's 5.5 millimeters. It's so small of a difference, but it's why I'm having to struggle just a little bit. So if that happens to you, that's probably why, it's not a big deal. I hear a big sigh in the studio audience. Is everything okay? Did you do it? Yes, that's awesome, alright! Okay, so now we've got our little, we are done with the crochet hook, that was all that you needed that crochet hook for. So now you would just go ahead and you would knit on it the same way that you would if you were just knitting in life. Whatever the pattern stitch called for. Whoops, I accidentally got my. So go ahead in studio and at home, just knit a couple of rows, and any stitch pattern is fine, because I just want you to see, actually more than a couple, if you could do at least five, that would be great, or four, whatever. I just want to show you what it looks like at the opposite end. Do you have a question? I do, is it better to start with fewer stitches or continue going? Should I keep going, 'cause I only have eight stitches (chuckles) so far picked up. Are you talking about just for practicing? For right now. Oh, that's totally fine, yeah. Start knitting on the eight that I have. Go ahead, yeah. Cool. Just start knitting on that, yeah. And the other thing that's good to know is that you could have a chain that was 45 stitches long even if you're only knitting 20 stitches. It's probably gonna be cumbersome and weird, but that number actually doesn't matter at all, you just want to make sure that you have a little bit of room on either side to give. Okay, so I'm just gonna, and so the first, as the first row often is, the first row may feel a little bit tighter or a little bit looser, it just depends on how you work. But then after that it's gonna feel totally normal, how you're knitting. I should also share with you that there are many different types of provisional cast on, and they oddly have often the same name, they're just called provisional cast ons, sometimes they'll have like, if this is the German provisional or whatever, so if you go home and go to a search engine and search provisional, and something else comes up, don't panic, it's just a different way. I just find that this way is the easiest. Okay, so we're knitting. I'm gonna work a couple more. It doesn't matter, any stitch, in the studio audience, they were asking if we were just knitting, or if we were doing stockinette or whatever, for now, since we're just practicing, you do whatever stitch you wanna do. I'm actually just doing garter 'cause I went into the knitting zone and wasn't even paying attention anymore to what I was knitting, so, it doesn't matter. I just want to show you what the purpose, the overall purpose looks like. How's everyone doing at home? So far are we on board? So far so good. Okay, good. Yeah. I would also love to know, and you don't have to answer me right this second 'cause I realize that requires putting your needles down, but I would love to know how long my studio audience has been knitting, and what your favorite projects to knit are. So when you feel like you're at a point where you can set down, Sharon, do it. I haven't been knitting that long, I started out as a crocheter but I wanted a new challenge. Yeah. So I started knitting, just kinda self-taught, online videos and things like that, books. Hopefully from my books and my YouTube channel? Absolutely. Okay, good answer, good answer. So I started with little things, baby things, and I did some sweaters, baby sweaters, and hats, and started knitting in the round, and I realized there's so much to learn and so many tips and techniques that there's just no end to it, so every day's a new challenge, I love it. Yeah, absolutely, oh, well, fantastic. And Sharon also was a crocheter, she also crochets for charity and does a lot of blankets and stuff, so it's a pleasure to have her in the course again. Alright, you can keep knitting at home and here, I'm gonna show you how you remove this cast on when you're done knitting. So let's pretend that you've knit your big, beautiful shawl, and it's laying out, and it's gorgeous, and now you're ready to, what you would do is you would probably bind off this, I'm just gonna do that, 'cause why not? You would bind off or whatever the pattern says, calls for, so that you have a bound off edge. Alright, we're almost there. I really love working with bamboo needles, too. I find that they're super warming in the hands and if they've got a sheen on them that the yarn slides right off of them. But you should use whatever you're most comfortable using, absolutely. Okay, so, I have done my little, wee, wee, mini swatch. Okay, so let's pretend this is your big, beautiful piece for knitting, and we are going to remove our tail. So what you wanna do is you wanna find the end that you fastened off of the tail, and I think this is the right end, we'll find out in a second. And you want to, I wanna make sure you can see this, pull it, but do it slowly. I'm gonna get a smaller needle 'cause this one is not working for me. You do it slowly and you can see, there's my first stitch that's live. So I just go ahead and put the, now, I accidentally grabbed one of the plies, I don't know if you can see that, it's soaked. I grabbed one of the plies. That was a mistake on my part, no problem though, 'cause we don't need that, so I'm just gonna take my little scissors and just snip that ply, 'cause that's something that can totally happen when you're working with plied yarn, right? You're gonna accidentally grab one, it's not a big deal at all. Okay, so then you pull, you'll see that next stich. And you do that all the way to the end. Do it slowly so you don't drop stitches, although we will be talking about fixing dropped stitches later, it's still a good idea to not do that. Oh, it looks like I did it again, I grabbed one of those plies, so I'm just gonna keep my little scissors. If you're working with a roving yarn that's not plied, that won't really be an issue, but this is a plied yarn. Or you could just be more careful than I was. Yes, ma'am? So it's better to just snip them than try and just get them into the stitch the next stitch or the previous stitch? Yeah, you won't be able to pull out your strand if you do that, it stops the chain from pulling out. And you don't need this, you're just gonna be trashing this waste yarn, anyway. You're not cutting, I just wanna be clear, you're not cutting the yarn that you're gonna be knitting with, this is only the plies of the crocheted piece. Don't cut the knitting yarn. And this again is why I really recommend using a different yarn or a contrasting color, so that that's really clear. Okay, so I accidentally just dropped a stitch, you can see that, there, so what I wanna do, and I'm working in garter stich, so for garter stitch that means that the loops fold over each other. But actually, this is a knit row so I'm going to just take the tip of my needle and slide it over. Now that stich is actually oriented wrong, but I could either fix it later or I could fix it now. There we go, okay. So we're gonna keep going. How's everybody doing at home? So far so good, I was curious what caused everyone to get into knitting. Just wanted to hear your stories. Yeah absolutely, so we heard from Sharon, is anybody else ready to, oh, you've got the mic, let's do this, Olivia. Um, yeah, I started knitting about 20 years ago because I used to do Renaissance fairs as an actor and you have to have an activity to do that's period. And so I started knitting hats. Oh, how fascinating! So I think I made it for about 15 years knitting with maybe three techniques, and that was it. So now you're busting out. And so, yeah, about two years ago I went, okay, there's more to knitting than just knitting in the round, stockinette stitch, so let's do that. That's awesome, I mean, by the way, also awesome if you only want to knit stockinette for the rest of your life, I'm just happy that you're knitting, but I love that after a while, I love that that far into it, you decided to spread your wings, that's really great. I wanna hear from you, Linda, in just one second, but I wanna just show, this is what it'll look like once you've pulled off all of those stitches, and then from here you would just knit for whatever the pattern called for as you would before. Isn't that cool? Totally live, you work from the opposite direction. So we've spent a lot of time on this one technique, we should probably think about moving on, so go ahead and wrap it up with what you can pull out if possible, again if you have questions, I actually do live video feeds on Facebook every Monday, they're called Ask Me Mondays, where you can interact with me and ask me questions, so if you have questions after you've taken this course, please feel free to log on and I will try to get you answered. Okay, so let's wrap this up, and then we are going to be moving on. Linda, do you wanna share your story with us? Well, knitting was a tradition in my family, I started in the '60s which, you can do the math. And it was mostly wearable sweaters, I was determined to make an Irish cable-knit, managed to get through that, but as I was saying in the break room earlier, I ended up with a pile of projects that were not finished 'cause I was intimidated by finishing them and couldn't really afford to have it finished for me. So eventually I learned that it wasn't that difficult to finish, and believe we're gonna talk a little bit about joining edges, anyway I stopped making wearables, and what I really enjoy now 'cause I find it really relaxing is to do knitted bookmarks. They're nice gifts. Oh yeah. And I usually put tassels on them, but. You wanna share those? I'll grab 'em, let's share 'em. Oh, sure. We have a couple minutes. Oh, those are pretty. And then I just embellish them and stuff. It's fun, oh my gosh. So what I love about this is that people are always saying, oh, I don't have time for knitting, I don't have time for another habit, another, well let's be honest, another hobby, whatever. And for me, I feel like fitting in time to be creative is fundamental to mental health and stability, I really do. It's a stress-reliever, it clicks your brain over to another zone, it's just, it's good stuff. But you can make projects like this and they're not super time-consuming, and these are also mobile, so something like this or squares, we were talking about in another course that I was teaching, about just creating squares that could be pieced together for blankets or tiny hats, or something. If you work through a few stitches in a grocery line, at the doctor's office, at the sidelines of a soccer game, eventually those few stitches are gonna add up to a sock or a scarf or a bookmark. Just a little piece of happy to give to someone, so that's lovely that you're doing that. I have one quick question, though. Yes, here. I can't get the chain to pull out from either end. Okay, so we have a mayday mayday question. It's that, because you're new to crochet, you crocheted a little tight, and that's not a big deal, so what you're gonna have to do is you're gonna have to fuss with it a little bit and if it ends up not pulling out for you, what you can do is you can take those little, mini scissors and carefully, carefully snip away each loop. That's your safety, but just be careful. I'm making a big mess of your yarn right here. You did something masterful, and I think what it is was we talked about how it looked like your chain had twisted. Mhm. So when, a sort of a check and balance for that would be when you're crocheting, set your piece on the table every one in a while and make sure that all the loops are facing the same way.

Class Description

It can be hard to set aside time for your creative outlet, and even harder to put time and energy into doing the research and legwork to advance your skills. Vickie Howell turns this formula on its head. Your craft should be your inspiration, and learning new techniques should be fun, attainable, and energizing.

Vickie is an expert, easy-to-follow knitter who can help you master the just-out-of-reach skills you need to tackle advanced patterns. Join this class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to get started with the provisional and cable cast-ons.
  • How to create button holes, fix dropped stitches, and more.
Vickie will also teach you advanced seaming techniques like the kitchener stitch, mattress stitch and the 3-needle bind-off. You’ll learn how to work the picot bind-off, add an applied i-cord edging, and incorporate SC edging. Take the time to invest in your knitting skills, and invigorate your creative practice!


Toni Imwold

Thanks Vicki for teaching a great class. I consider myself to be an advanced knitter but I still learned some great tips and ideas from you. The cowl patterns look great and I plan to knit one soon.

a Creativelive Student

This was an outstanding, intensive workshop by Vickie Howell. She covered a wide variety of techniques and I am amazed at how much I learned in just a few hours. I started practicing some of the new skills I learned and am happy to report that they are indeed now part of my knitting knowledge.