Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tubular Cast-On Tutorial

Or, at least ... How we duz it here in the Kingdom!

There are so many nifty ways to ... we were going to say "skin a cat" but you know how we feel about cats ... so we'll just say "to DO things". There are so many Cast-ons and Cast-offs and so many different ways to increase and decrease or to turn a heel or shape a toe on a sock. That's one of the reasons knitting is so much fun. It's such a pleasure to find new techniques and learn new skills. The right technique well-used is an elegant thing.

The Tubular Cast-On that we use can be found all over the internet. We don't claim to have thought it up. We think whoever the originator was, she or he was a genius!! We have tweaked the process in a way that suits us and that's the process we're going to share with you today.

This Cast-On gives a lovely stretchy edge that is perfectly suited to the cuffs of socks and we use it a lot. After today, you will, too.

This cast-on starts with a provisional cast-on. Using the waste yarn, crochet a chain of about 40 stitches. We're using a worsted weight yarn so the stitches will show up better but we would generally use the same weight of yarn that we're casting on with. Just be sure you use a good contrasting colour.

On the back of the chain of crochet stitches, you'll see a line of regularly spaced loops. Knit into the first loop with your knitting needle, picking up a stitch of your sock yarn (main colour).  Wrap the yarn over the needle in a Yarn Over then pick up another stitch and make another Yarn Over. Continue picking up stitches and making Yarn Overs in pairs until you have 31 pairs for the Large size or 27 for the Small size.

Pick up one more stitch and then, instead of a YO, wrap the yarn around your thumb as if you were doing a regular long-tail cast-on but slip it onto the needle without knitting it).

It will look like this when it settles down onto the needle:

Next, arrange the stitches on 3 double-point needles. We like to start back at the first stitch we picked up and slip them deliberately....1 knit stitch, 1 YO, 1 knit stitch, 1 YO, etc.  Arrange them so there are 8 pairs of stitches on each of the first 2 needles. (1 knit stitch and 1 YO make a pair).

Join in a circle and start to knit in rounds.

Round 1: The first stitch you see is a knit stitch. Knit that stitch. Slip the next loop (which is a YO) WITH THE YARN HELD IN FRONT. We slip stitches purl-wise. Continue knitting each knit stitch and slipping the YO's with the yarn held in front all around.

Round 2: The first stitch you see is the knit stitch. This time, slip that stitch WITH THE YARN HELD IN BACK. We slip this stitch purl-wise. Purl the next stitch. Continue working your way around slipping the next stitch with the yarn in back and purling the following stitch.

Don't worry if there's a bit of a gap at the point where the rounds start. That will sort itself out later.

Repeat these 2 rounds once more.

Round 5: Now for the part where it gets interesting!! Knit the first stitch, drop the second stitch off the needle and knit the third stitch (OR as we like to do....knit the first stitch, insert the tip of your needle into the third stitch, ignoring the stitch in between. Knit that 3rd stitch and when you slide it off the needle, allow that unknit stitch to go, too.) Scoop up that dangling stitch with your left-hand needle and purl him. Purl the next stitch. Now you have 2 knit stitches followed by 2 purl stitches, in that order, on the right-hand needle. Continue all the way around re-grouping the knit and purl stitches. You'll have the start of a perfect K2P2 ribbing.

Work one round in K2P2 ribbing for insurance and then just remove the waste yarn. Sometimes it will slide right out once you unzip it correctly. Sometimes, you have to snip it out Very Carefully.

That's how you make a 2x2 Tubular Cast-On.

For the purposes of the Corduroy Roads Socks, we introduced the second colour in Round 5 where we separated out the 2 knit stitches from the 2 purl stitches but there is no real need to do that. You can start your corduroy ribbing in the next round. We just wanted to explain why our socks will look slightly different.

If you're like us ... and not exactly what you'd call a "quick study" ... you'll want to make up a cheat sheet and keep it in your knitting bag. We seem to need to refer to it each and every time we attempt a Tubular Cast-On but it is absolutely worth it.

So, that's enough for today. Tomorrow, we'll continue on with the corrugated ribbing. We hope you found this helpful.

~ Spreading Joy and Knitted Elegance throughout the Kingdom!

PS....You will have a total of 56 stitches on the needles for the small size or 64 stitches for the large size.


  1. I still haven't figured out the heels yet! It'll be awhile before I try your caston... but I will try to keep it in mind -- and I am still figuring out some of those macrame knots - there is not enough time in the day, especially if one must fit in a nap too!

  2. I may be more successful skinning the cat...Love the yarn you chose. What kind is it?

  3. Thanks for the tutorial, I'll try it some time. To get an elastic cast-on I form my stitches over two needles held together, makes the first row a cinch, too.


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