Provisional Cast-on

I’m getting ready to try a baby afghan using this cast-on method. I’ve searched the threads on here, and I must say I’m a little nervous. Is there “anything else” I should know that will give me better success in this?

I did try following the video on our site, and, with casting on 187 stitches, it was a pretty twisted-up situation. I also tried casting on the normal way with waste yarn, then knitting up with my real yarn, but I can’t really figure out how to get those cast on stitches removed after.:??

I KNOW I would really use this technique if I could master it.

I always use the crocheted provisional cast on–so much easier.

http:// This is one way that goes right on your needle.


You can do a backwards loop CO in another yarn, then knit the first row with the working yarn. That ways it’s easy to start and easy to take out.

thanks to you both. I’m going to try both ways for sure.

The easier/simpler the CO, IMO, the quicker it is to remove. I’ve done several types and actually prefer to do my standard LT as it gives the tension I want. (Others seem to end up looser/tighter than I’d like.) Removing it takes a bit longer (snipping sts) but I’m happier with the results. Try a test swatch of perhaps 20 sts with a few diff COs and see which one fits the bill.


Thanks, Cam, so it sounds like you individually snip out each cast on as you put the loop that is in it onto the needle? I guess that would not be too bad, and I’d have control of things not coming apart too fast. I’m going to definitely try these all.

Yes. If the waste yarn is slippery the little snips will fall away as you load the live sts onto your ndl. When I’ve done a looser prov (that pulls out in one piece) the working yarn has, luckily, had memory in the sts from not having been worked since the CO and maintained their shape…thus, no sts lost.

Good luck, but I think you’ll find this isn’t as perplexing as you thought once you arrive at a prov that works with your yarn and sts.


I really love this provisional cast on… I’ll be using it all the time for toe up socks (easy toe). :heart:

Try knitting the first row in a crochet cotton and then changing? Then just put the needle through the stitches in the first row in your main wool and then snip out the cotton?

Could someone just please tell me WHY ‘we’ do provisional castons? I don’t see the need for them, probably because I’ve never had a project that calls for that method I couldn’t substitute a regular cast on for, what am I missing? Thanks.

Thanks for the video. I book marked it. I want to try toe ups. :slight_smile:

I’ve seen scarf patterns that have a graphic or motif that needs to be right side up. You Prov CO and work down one side then pick up the live sts and knit down the other side.

I used the Prov CO recently in making a helmetliner. I Prov CO the above the eyes part. That way I didn’t have to pick up sts to do the around the face ribbing. I don’t like to pick up sts.

The technique I used is:

I Prov CO 59 sts to work up the HL. This gave me 60 live sts to do the above the eyes ribbing. If you do this method and don’t want the extra st just do a decrease.

Provisional castons are done for what Gertie says, or to put the same sort of edging on both ends. There are top down shawl patterns where you PCO a few stitches, knit in garter for several rows, pick up sts along one edge, then the sts that were PCO; that makes a firmer edge for the neck and a garter pattern that flows into the garter edges of the shawl. It’s not necessary to do so unless a pattern says to.

The Jeanie wrap I’m doing from uses the provisional cast on as I have to continue the cableing on the sides along the top and bottom edges and then graft the stitches so it makes it seamless. Not looking forward to doing that :rofl:

every cast on has a use.

and everyone has their own opinions about cast ons…

there are perfectionist, who work (and rework) every stitch to have perfect work…

there are quality knitters who will let a mistake (a well hidden one) slide

there are people who churn out knitted items --that are full of mistakes…

we are all knitters.

there are things that look better/more finely detailed with provisional cast ons… You NEVER have to do one… there are subs, (good ones and bad ones! )

Cast on’s are just one more persnickity detail you can obsess about --or not!

Thank you! That one makes the most sense of any of the ones I’ve seen.

As for why to use a PCO, it’s oftentimes a matter of preference. I’m about to start two different afghans and they will both have PCO so that I can easily join the squares (I don’t mind kitchener, and definitely prefer it to seaming), and so that when I’m done with them I can easily add a border without having to pick up stitches along all 4 sides. Picking up stitches tends to be a bit messier, IMO.

It also makes it possible to do something like the bottom of a flat-bottomed bag… if you pick up stitches along 3 sides, they will never match the fourth side. Instead start with a PCO, so that the sides opposite each other are treated the same (two with pickup stitches and two with CO stitches, and then the bag will sit and look “right”. Of course, alternately you could knit the bottom flat then pick up along all four sides… but that leaves you with extra ends to weave in.

Long story short, I have yet to see a pattern that called for PCO that I couldn’t find another way of accomplishing the same thing, but it’ll often be more work to not follow the pattern than it is to learn a new CO.

Another reason for a provisional cast-on is to have live stitches for either grafting or a 3 needle bind off – I believe some mobius patterns are done that way.

Only reason I know (and I’m no expert on the provisional cast-on) is if you’re going to join the beginning to the end, or to something else. F’rinstance, if you are knitting a hat band horizontally, you knit for 20 inches or so and then graft the ends together. I don’t suppose it’s absolutely necessary. You could just bind off and whipstitch the ends together. But the other way makes a much less obvious joining.

But the other way makes a much less obvious joining.

And that’s the basic reason to use a provisional cast on - so the join would be nearly invisible, whether you’re grafting two ends together or picking up stitches.

If I knew how to do the “bump” I would do it here. This was a really helpful thread, and I’ve seen the same question a couple of times this week.