Posted in Knitting
March 26, 2008

A cast-on question for you

If a pattern told you “cast on X stitches provisionally” but didn’t specify the method, what would you opt for by default unless someone told you otherwise?

a. crochet chain provisional cast on
b. long-tail style provisional cast on with two strands
c. other

Respond in comments, would you please? I’m working out a pattern-writing conundrum and need to know how the majority of you would approach it if presented with those vague directions. Thanks!

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  • dana

    Crochet-chain. The long tail provisional cast on has been, in my experience, a major pain in the butt. I’d much rather crochet-chain, and in fact would probably always substitute crochet-chain for any other provisional cast-on method that was suggested (unless a cursory reading of the pattern indicated why that particular specified method was the best one to use).

    Reply to dana
  • Daniella

    Crochet. But mostly because I am a much better crocheter than knitter and crocheting doesn’t scare the bejesus out of me. I know lots of knitters that would rather gauge themselves in the eye with sock needles before pick up a crochet hook. I’ve even taken to crocheting chains for friends at knit night so they can use them for provisional cast ons instead of having to crochet the chain themselves.


    Reply to Daniella
  • helena

    after the SDRK conundrum (which is perhaps what you reference in this post), crochet. though in this particular case i propose another method, which i sent you in email previously…

    Reply to helena
  • Caroline

    Long tail cast on.

    Reply to Caroline
  • Harper

    If by crochet chain cast on you mean crochet a chain first, then neither. I’d crochet around the knitting needle with my provisional yarn.

    Reply to Harper
  • Amber

    I’d probably do what I just did, which would be to do a google search on the method, read through the pattern, and see which one fit best. Though I like casting on with waste yarn and undoing it later if I have a choice 🙂

    Reply to Amber
  • Gina

    Crochet. It’s the simplest for me to do and grasp right now. I suppose I’d try something different if it was specified and explained (in the pattern or the glossary if it’s in a magazine). But I automatically default to crochet.

    Reply to Gina
  • Marnie

    Meh, I would go on a whim. It’s so irrelevant to the final look of the piece that I would do whatever version is freshest in my mind. I guess I’m most familiar with crochet but I find it fiddly, so I’m always looking for alternatives that are faster but easy to undo (for me they tend to be one or the other, but never both)

    Reply to Marnie
  • isela

    I will probably use whichever one I happen to remember at the time. The cast on doesn’t have an impact on the overall look of the item since it is going to be ripped out anyways.

    Reply to isela
  • Kristen

    Since it’s getting ripped out later, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it and just use the method that popped into mind. I would probably do the long tail provisional cast on with waste yarn. Crochet chain option maybe, but only if I was instructed to, as I’m still not so comfy with crochet.

    Reply to Kristen
  • Rosemary

    I’d likely use the crochet chain cast on just because I like that cast-on method. It lets me feel more in control of how much yarn I’m using, where I still find myself using either too much or too little with the long tail.

    Reply to Rosemary
  • Lisa

    I would crochet unless told otherwise

    Reply to Lisa
  • Rosemary

    If I’m on the road and/or in a hurry, I’d whip out a crochet hook and chain over my needle with waste yarn.

    If I’m at home and have some time for exploration and experimentation, I’d probably go pull Principles of Knitting off the shelf and start reading. Then I’d test one of the methods to see if I like it better than my default crochet method, becuase sometimes I forget to grab a crochet hook when I strike out on the road.

    Reply to Rosemary
  • Sandra

    i would do the crochet version,because for me it would be the safest version for this case.

    Reply to Sandra
  • Chppie

    Knitted cast-on. It’s how i learned to cast on and my default unless there’s a mention of a need for a loose cast on.

    Reply to Chppie
  • Peatbogfaery

    Crochet for me, definitely. This is the first method I learnt, and I find it the least fiddly.

    Reply to Peatbogfaery
  • Melanie

    The two – strand one. Option B i believe.

    Reply to Melanie
  • Aud

    a. crochet chain provisional cast on

  • Natalia

    I would go with option b. long-tail style provisional cast on with two strands as a default.

    Reply to Natalia
  • stariel

    I would use the crochet chain method.

    Reply to stariel
  • Jan

    I would also use the crochet chain method.

  • Post authorShannon

    You’re all awesome. Thanks so much for answering. Helena wins (albeit slightly unfairly since she’s working on the current SDRK project) — ding ding ding!

    I asked because I found, to my dismay, that one way doesn’t work as well as the other in the pattern for its chosen purpose, and so I wanted to know what *most* people default to so I can explain accordingly.

    Thanks for helping out! Go have a piece of chocolate or something. You deserve it.

    Reply to Shannon
  • Amy

    crochet chain– it’s my favorite.

  • LEann

    Same as what Harper said – I learned this in Great Beginnings at Stitches – instead of a crochet chain, you crochet around the needle, then you don’t have to mess with picking up the right loops and how to hold it so it’s easy to pick into the loops (I hated doing it, so avoided provisionals). Now, I hold the needle and yarn in my left hand and the hook in my right and just go about my business!

    Reply to LEann
  • Colleen

    i would use crochet provisional cast on.. its quick and easy (plus the one I’m most familiar with)

    Reply to Colleen
  • AmyP

    I’d tend to go for the long-tail cast on with two yarns.

    Reply to AmyP
  • alexandra

    I would crochet chain, especially if it were a large number of stitches that required a long tail to pick out.

    Reply to alexandra
  • Sue

    Long tail cast on with two yarns……you taught me!!! that is the only one i know and it was so easy!!!!

  • Samantha

    Long tail cast on with waste yarn, or another circular’s cable standing in for the waste yarn.

    Reply to Samantha
  • Jen

    Hands down crochet provisional cast on around the knitting needle – I will even admit to using this one even when suggested to do another version.

    It’s the fastest and easiest for me and it always works out the first time. But I am comfortable with crochet so maybe that helps too.

  • Michelle

    I’d do the long tail cause I find it the easiest for me!

    Reply to Michelle
  • Marie Grace

    Crochet chain. I’ve always used it and never really caught on to any of the other methods.

    Reply to Marie Grace
  • Robyn

    Crochet. It’s easier for me too.

    Reply to Robyn
  • Natalie

    I’m a lazy/rebellious knitter. Usually when I see the words “provisional cast on” I decide there can’t be a REAL reason that a regular old first-knitting-lesson-style cast on wouldn’t work and go for it.

    Occasionally I have regretted this. Like when picot edges won’t lay down. The other times I’ve invented a way around it.

    It’s the dog’s honest truth. Sometimes I even pass up patterns with provisional cast ons… I’m more lazy than rebellious. And impatient.

    Reply to Natalie
  • Em

    I would use the crochet method. I “get” it, and i find it easiest to “unzip”.

  • Cathy

    Crochet. It’s the easiest for me *not* to mess up.

    Reply to Cathy
  • libby

    crochet chain

    Reply to libby
  • Carie

    I would use the crochet chain for preference – if it stated another sort of provisional cast on I would use that to add another skill but the default position is crochet

    Reply to Carie
  • dani

    i’d use the crochet cast-on if i had a contrast yarn available. i’d also probably try it six or seven times some other way first… ’cause i’m dumb like that…


    Reply to dani
  • Kate

    crochet all the way!

    Reply to Kate
  • Lindsey

    I always knit a few rows in waste yarn and then knit in the yarn I’m using. Long-tail style is probably the way I will teach myself next. I’m not a very strong crocheter.

    Reply to Lindsey
  • Sandy

    The long tail with 2 yarns. After years of trying the crochet chain way, the longtail is much easier for me.

    Reply to Sandy
  • Francesca

    Neither. I was first taught a kind of cable cast on, and I can’t use anything else unless it is actually specified!

    Reply to Francesca

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