This was the entry that I was hunting for when I discovered my missing month. It describes crocheting onto a needle to start a provisional cast-on instead of just making a crocheted chain and picking up stitches along the back ridge of bumps. This was originally posted on 22 June 2004.


Enough boring everyone with rehab junk. You came here to read about knitting, and not to visit This Old House.

I’ve ripped out the entire mindless knitting raglan and started again. This time I’m doing it in the flat, and working both pieces side by side. Because I hate seaming ribbing I’ve decided to add it later in the round, after I’ve sewn the sweater body, so I’ve started out with a provisional cast-on. I favor the crochet chain method of provisional cast-on, but I detest fiddling with the crocheted chain, picking up the bumps along the chain’s back. Instead I crochet my chain directly onto my knitting needle. Here’s how:

First I pick a nice smooth cotton string-type yarn, and a crochet needle a size or two larger than I’d use with it for a crochet project. In this case, I raided the Baby Georgia I was using for the filet knitting project, and grabbed a Bates F size crochet hook (more on hook sizing another day).

To start, I chain up about five stitches, just to have a stable spot to begin and an end to hold as I do so. Then I take my knitting needle and hold it like this:


Holding the yarn in the back of the knitting needle, I reach up across the front of the knitting needle to grab the strand and form my crochet stitch. This lays a loop around the knitting needle itself, with the leading leg of the loop correctly oriented. After the stitch is formed, I use my left forefinger to flick the yarn around to the back of the knitting needle again:


Once the yarn is in the back of the needle, I’m ready to crochet on my next stitch.

I usually crochet on several more stitches than I need, just to be sure I have enough, and end off with five or six plain chains as insurance. Once the stitches are on the needle, I can switch to my knitting yarn and begin my first row of knitting. If I have more stitches cast on the needle than I need, I just slip off the excess. They become normal crochet chain stitches and sit quietly until the end of the project. No worries.

When it’s time to awaken the provisional stitches and begin knitting in the other direction, I find the last chain stitch I did (tie a knot in the dangling end if you think you might not remember which is which), carefully unpick that last stitch, then pull the strand to zip out the crochet stitch by stitch. As each knit loop is freed, I slip it onto a waiting needle.

Here’s my newly re-started raglan. Note that I’m knitting the back and the front at the same time. That way I am guaranteed that they match row for row and decrease placement for decrease placement.


I’ve done something here with the crocheted provisional cast-on that helps me keep life straight when working two pieces side by side. I’ve crocheted all of the stitches I need for both back and front in one long strand. First, following the procedure above, I made enough stitches for the back. Then I crocheted about ten free stitches without making loops on the needle. After that I made the stitches for the front, ending with a few extra chains. Using a different ball of yarn for each piece, I knit across first the front and then the back. The little bar of crochet anchors my two pieces together in the center and helps me remember which direction I’m going so that I don’t get to the half-way mark, then head back across the same piece instead of working the other one. (As the work gets longer I’ll safety pin the two pieces together closer to the top for the same reason.)

How did I manage to take the photos above? Not by growing extra arms, that’s for sure. So far all of the “hands working” shots on this blog have been taken by Alex, my 8th grade daughter. She may not knit, but she handles a mean digital camera.

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One response

  1. You saved the day! I absolutly could not figure the provisional cast on……But I do understand your explaination….I don’t know how I found your blog, but I’m sure glad I did!! Thanks! Maggie, madly knitting in the ARizona desert

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