How do I do a provisional cast-on?

A hat pattern I want to try involves a ‘provisional cast-on’, which is later unravelled to join two ends together. How do I make a provisional cast-on?

Here’s another way I do the provisional cast on and the easiest, in my opinion:


a provisional cast on is ANY cast on that is undone (so that live stitches can be picked up…

but be aware:
stitches are like V’s (you knit into top (open end of V))
-/ -/ -/ -/ -/ (5 stitches (-=knit into space)

when you undo a provisional cast on, you turn the work upside down, and – in doing so, the V’s become A’s

/-\ /-\ /-\ /-\ /-(5 upside down stitches–)

Only now, you knit into non - area (or red dashes, below)

[B]/[/B] [COLOR=Red]-[/COLOR]/ [COLOR=Red]-[/COLOR]/ [COLOR=Red]-[/COLOR]/ [COLOR=Red]-[/COLOR]/[B] \ NOTE:[/B] there are only 4 red dashes…
because you “lose” a half stitch (bold) at beginning and end of row.

so 5 regular stitches becomes 5-1 (4) picked up stitches)

you can fudge a bit, and get 5 (and if you work in round, there is no loss) but when knitting flat, you’ll alway have 1 fewer provisional stitch than cast on.

I have used this method the most -

There are also a couple methods here -

And if all else fails you can just knit a couple rows with another color, then when you’re done you just take out the other color and pick up the stitches.

Jan, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
I’ve never held a crochet hook in my life and the sites that explained a crochet cast on without pictures baffled me. I just couldn’t grasp the concept of what they were explaining. But the video was perfect! And after many tries I now have a workable provisional cast on. You’re a lifesaver!

This is great information. I have a pattern I want to do that has porvisional casting, and couldn’t figure it out. With this, I now think I can do it.

However, the pattern also has a tip, that even with the video’s etc. still doesn’t make sense. The pattern says to CO using provisional cast on, but then has (Tip: If you CO over 3rd(spare) circular ndl (larger size) instead of waste yarn, you won’t have to transfer sts when you’re ready to work them. Just join the yarn and off you go!).

This is isn’t clicking in my head. Can anyone help with this ?? Thanks

I´m not sure I can do a provisional cast-on, but after watching the video here on KH, I can tell you that you can use a spare circular needle instead of waste yarn and then knit right off of that. Does that make more sense?


Karen, you say (I´m not sure I can do a provisional cast-on, but after watching the video here on KH, I can tell you that you can use a spare circular needle instead of waste yarn and then knit right off of that. Does that make more sense?


Sorry, that I must be dense. I can follow using the crochet hook casting on over the knitting needle, but this is with the waste yarn. the tip says to use another circular needle. I can’t seem to picture where this other needle would be. You say use the circular needle instead of waste yarn, but the waste yarn is what is used to cast on with, not sure how you would use a needle instead.:??

Instead of casting on to waste yarn, you are casting on to the cable of a circular needle. Then you just carry on from there until you need to pick up the stitches you originally cast on. If they are already on the cable of a circular needle, you can just use the circ needle and knit right off of there.

It´s easier to understand if you go to the video section on this website and look for the provisional cast on video. Check it out and let us know. :thumbsup:


Karen, I did watch that video. I had watched the video, in the thread and was understanding the kind where you used the crochet hook. So with the extra needle, that method doesn’t look like it will work. I do some practice squares, but that did make more sense, thanks

Knity, I tried using the method in the video here at KH several times with both waste yarn and a circular needle cable. I just couldn’t get it right. I’m sure it would be much simpler when you’re ready to pick up the CO sts and knit down, but I found that using the crochet hook method with scrap yarn was just easier for me to make work. I’ll deal with picking up sts later. Good luck!

All, I was successful with using the video and casting on with the circular needle. It took a few tries before I could get my fingers to behave and hold everything right.

Liz, yep, using the crochet hook looked like it was simpler in some ways. I did have to knit in the back loop at points off the circular needle, but all in all, it worked pretty well. THANKS all for your help. :muah:

This one is the easiest for me.