Crochet Cast On

The crochet cast on is a starting row that many knitters have trouble with. The barrier is probably psychological as those of us who are monogamous to the knitting needle have trouble finding uses for the crochet hook. Still, this is a good cast on to know as it is attractive, identical to the slip stitch selvage, and handy as a provisional cast on.

For bicrafters and others more skilled than I, the easiest way to do this is to make a crochet chain in the usual way, then to slide the knitting needle under the correct strand. For the rest of us, this process involves much swearing and picking up of the wrong strand.

So the other alternative is to use a conventional knitting needle and a crochet hook of about the same size. Actually, with a little practice, the process can be done with the two ends of a circular needle and a little finger gymnastics, but for this post, I explain the official version, which can be found in many blogs and knitting books.

What’s that? Don’t own a conventional single pointed knitting needle? Use a double pointed needle, and if the thought of one of those foreign objects makes you shiver, try a pencil. Once you get the concept, you’ll figure out how to use a circ.

Note: these instructions assume you’re right-handed.

1. Sit in a nice comfy chair with your knees together.
2. Place the conventional knitting needle between your knees. The needle is held vertically, with the idle end against the seat cushion and the point toward the ceiling.
3. Make a slip knot on the crochet hook. The slip knot is the first loop.
4. Slide the loop up the shaft so that it is about 2 inches (5 cm) from the hook.
5. With your right hand, hold the hook horizontally, and position it against the needle. The hook is in front of the needle, handle to the right and hook to the left. The needle and the hook are perpendicular to each other, like a Christian cross. The loop is to the right of the needle. The hook bends upward, though this really doesn’t matter.
6. With your left hand, wrap the working yarn around the knitting needle. Pull the yarn away from you on the right side of the needle, to the left behind the needle, and toward you on the left side of the needle.
7. Lay the working yarn over the crochet hook. It is between the loop and the hook.
8. Drag the loop to the hook and pull until it drops off. A new loop is formed by the working yarn.
9. Repeat Steps 4 to 8 until you’re 1 stitch short. Be careful that you don’t accidentally wrap the yarn around the hook as you wrap the working yarn around the needle. I use my thumb to guide the yarn under the hook and around the needle.
10. Slip the loop onto the knitting needle.
11. Begin knitting.

The process is slow and tedious at first, but the result is so attractive that it’s worth doing again, and over time, it’s as quick and smooth as other cast ons. A future post covers how to use this as a provisional cast on. For now grab your hook and needle, and cast away.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Cathy
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 17:22:33

    I recently found this cast on in a knitting pattern and fell in love with it. It has two big advantages: 1: No need to estimate the size of the tail, and 2. it looks very attractive. I highly recommend it.


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