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5 Ways to Cast on in the Middle of a Row [Tutorial]



Last time in the tutorial series we explored the long-tail family of knitting cast-ons. But sometimes a pattern tells you to cast on more stitches when you're already working a row, for example, in the underarm of a top-down sweater or after working a thumb gusset. The long-tail cast-ons won't work here because your yarn is already attached to the work — use these short-tail methods instead!



1. Backwards Loop a.k.a. Single Cast-on a.k.a. the Half-hitch Cast-on

This cast-on method is very simple, easy, and quick to do... but I'd go as far as to say it's not really a cast-on, just looping yarn around the needle. While the backwards loop is easy to do, it's quite difficult to knit into, and usually results in big, loose loops. The backwards loop edge can be quite unstable and I wouldn't recommend it for buttonholes or other places where the stitches need to stand up for a lot of wear.


The backwards loop cast-on is the only one of these methods in which new stitches are created at the end of the row.


When to use

  • At the end of the row


Pros

  • Fast, quick, simple and easy

  • Easy to remember

  • Goes in the direction you're knitting (right to left)


Cons

  • Difficult to knit into

  • Difficult and unstable to pick up stitches from

  • Can be quite loose and sloppy-looking


There's also a double-twist variation of the backwards loop method that takes care some of the issues: it looks prettier and makes a more stable edge.



2. Knitted Cast-on

Knitted cast-on is one of the cast-on methods you learn very first when you're a beginning knitter. It's very easy to do and to remember because you're essentially working the knit stitch over and over. Another upside is it can be used at the start of your project and in the middle of a row. If you only wanted to learn one cast-on method, this is it!


Stitches cast on with this method can be quite loose to work into. I always like to work them through the back loops on the next row to tighten them up.


When to use

  • Any time, anywhere!


Pros

  • Quick and easy

  • A good all-rounder


Cons

  • Can become quite loose



3. Cable Cast-on

The cable cast-on is a very close relative to the knitted cast-on. Instead of going through the stitch, like in regular knitting, you cast on stitches by inserting the needle between stitches. This creates a much more stable edge which is why this method is ideal for places where you need stability, not flexibility — such as buttonholes. But I've found it to be almost too tight which is why I tend to use my one-row buttonhole method.


When to use

  • In places that don't need flexibility

  • At the beginning of a row


Pros

  • Sturdier than the knitted cast-on


Cons

  • Can be almost too tight



4. Purling on

If you're working in the round, such as casting on stitches for an underarm, knitted and cable cast-ons have to be worked from the wrong side of the work since they both add stitches to the beginning of the needle. What you're faced with then are purl bumps on the outside of the work.


This is perfectly fine if you're working on a reverse stockinette sweater, for example. But if your project is mostly stockinette, you want to use a cast-on method that looks good on the outside. The solution to this is really simple: instead of knitting the stitches while casting on, you purl them.


Whether working the knitted, purled, or cable cast-on in the round, I always like to cast on one more stitch than the amount needed, then work the last cast-on stitch together with the next stitch to tighten the gap between new and live stitches.


When to use

  • On the purl side

  • At the beginning of a row


Pros

  • Looks good on the outside or stockinette side


Cons

  • Purling!



5. Chinese Waitress Cast-on

The cast-on with a funny name! There's a little story that goes with the cast on: it was taught to knitting book author Cap Sease's friend by a waitress in a Beijing restaurant.


The Chinese Waitress Cast-on uses a needle and a crochet hook to create a very smooth and stretchy cast-on that's looks nice on both sides of the work. This makes it an ideal cast-on method for reversible projects, such as garter stitch.


When to use

  • At the start of your work

  • At the beginning of a row

  • In garter stitch or other reversible knitting


Pros

  • Very pretty!

  • Stretchy

  • Reversible


Cons

  • Takes a bit of practice

  • Need to have a crochet hook handy


Do you know other short-tail cast-on methods? Let me know in the comments and I'll try them out.

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#tutorial #videotutorial #knitting #knittingtechnique #castingon #caston #howtocaston #shorttailcaston

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Susanna Winter is a knitwear designer, creating timeless and elegant pieces with clean lines. She has been knitting for over 20 years, knit blogging since 2007, and designing knitting patterns professionally since 2016.

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