Crochet Cast-on for English Knitters

Siren Song

Siren Song: uses crochet cast-on for the best start.

I don’t crochet. To make matters worse, I knit English-style, so I really struggle to control the yarn in my left-hand. But I do like the look of the crochet cast-on, because it matches a slipped stitch edge and a regular bind-off, so beautifully. It’s easy to pick-up into the edge that it makes. And being able to cast-on this way makes provisional cast-on a breeze. I really wanted to learn how to do it.

So, earlier this year, at Amy Singer’s workshop on Casting on and Casting off, I learned the crochet cast-on. Except, actually, I didn’t. I watched Amy’s careful instructions, but by the time I’d got back to my seat it had morphed into something else…I confess I tend to knit on auto-pilot.

Instead of holding the yarn to crochet, like I “should”, I held the yarn as if to knit, in my right hand. Let’s just say I almost forgot it had a hook…

The result? The same cast-on, only easier.

It has the added benefit that you don’t have to remember to manipulate the yarn back to the right place after each stitch cast-on, it just happens automatically.

Three Cheers: crochet cast on used to start base.

Three Cheers: crochet cast on used to start base.

What’s not to like? OK, there are some crocheters out there whose toes are curling at the idea of holding the yarn in the same hand as the hook, and to you I can only apologise – and admire your craft. Likewise, if you’re a Continental-style knitter, this probably isn’t going to help as much.

I used this cast-on for Siren Song, so that I have the same border all around the shawl. I used it for Three Cheers, because it makes the edges around the base match each other perfectly, plus it’s easy to pick-up into. It’s my new favourite cast-on.

You can download this tutorial as a pdf (or read on): Crochet CO Worksheet v1

Use a crochet hook approximately the same size as your needles.

1. Make a slipknot and put it onto your crochet hook. Hold the hook in your right hand and a knitting needle in your left hand:


2. Hold the yarn-tail in your left hand, to keep it tensioned and out of the way. Place crochet hook ON TOP of needle:


3. Hold the working yarn in your right hand, as if you were going to knit (nervous crocheters should look away now):


4. Bring yarn around from behind the crochet hook, and wrap hook as if to knit:


5. Pull crochet hook down, catching working yarn in hook. The stitch that was sitting on the hook will start to slide off, over the new loop of working yarn held in the hook.


6. Pull working yarn right through that old stitch on the crochet hook. One stitch is cast onto the needle and a new stitch sits  on the hook:


7. Slide the crochet hook back up through the new crochet stitch, ready to make another cast-on. (The working yarn is automatically in the right place, having moved between needle & hook when finishing the stitch – the advantage of holding the yarn in the right hand):


8. Repeat steps 3-7 to make another stitch on the needle, and a new stitch on the hook:


9. Continue casting on in this manner. A “chain” forms under the needle, with the cast-on stitches sitting on the needle above it. Keep your stitches evenly tensioned and neatly spread-out, as with any other cast-on:


10. Stop when you’ve got ONE STITCH FEWER than you need in total, sitting on the needle. There is one stitch on the crochet hook:


11. Slip the stitch on the crochet hook off and onto the needle:


12. The crochet cast-on is complete. The “chain” is visible under the needle (shown in photo), with your working yarn ready to knit the stitches sitting on needle.


Footnote: You can use this as a provisional cast-on method instead of making a crochet chain and picking up into the back of it. This is not my invention, but what I’m trying to say is that my method of the crochet chain works too. Use waste yarn and follow this method up to step 9. This time, continue casting-on until you have all the stitches you need on  your needle.

Then, finish by making a short chain of five more stitches, break yarn and I usually hold the last stitch with a locking stitch marker, pulled tight to hold the last loop – it’s easier to remove and unravel. Start knitting the stitches on the needle with your working yarn. When it’s time to unzip the provisional cast-on, remove the locking stitch marker and pull out the chain, leaving you with live stitches.

Want a reminder on a handy pdf download? Crochet CO Worksheet v1 Happy knitting – English style!

With thanks to Amy Singer for her wonderful workshop at Purlescence, and apologies to crocheters everywhere.

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