Crochet Provisional Cast-on

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If you are knitting a sideways constructed Hat, and wish for a professional seam-free finish, then this is the cast-on for you. Working hand in hand with Kitchener stitch, this cast-on method allows you to cast on with ‘false’ stitches, that are later removed and grafted.

The chain crochet provisional cast-on is fairly well known, yet the method of working it directly onto the needle isn’t so much – trying to find the right bump along a crocheted chain to pick up as a stitch can be difficult, and if the wrong bump is picked up, the provisional cast-on isn’t as easily removed. Crocheting the stitches directly onto the needle, as demonstrated here, saves a lot of time and effort!

Once you have finished the body of your knitting, this cast-on is easily removed, although it is advisable to remove the chain stitch by stitch, to avoid dropping any stitches.

To do this provisional cast-on, you will need a crochet hook and some waste yarn. The amount of waste yarn needed will vary depending on your project, but for most of Woolly Wormhead’s sideways Hats, 2 metres or yards is plenty.

When choosing your waste yarn, use something that isn’t fuzzy, something without grip. A wool yarn may well start to felt with the handling and it can be difficult to remove. Cotton or other smooth yarns are best for this job.

The crochet hook should be the same size as the needles you will use, although one a little larger will help make the chain easier to remove at the end. Same goes for the waste yarn – use one the same gauge, or slightly heavier, than the yarn you will be using in your knitting.

1) Using your waste yarn, make a slip-knot and slip it onto your crochet hook.
2) Hold the hook in front of the needle, taking the working yarn behind the needle. With the hook catch the working yarn at the front.
3) Pull the working yarn through loop on the hook – this will form your first stitch.
4) Take your yarn around the back of the needle and repeat these 2 steps until you have the required amount of stitches.
5) Once you have the right amount of stitches, pull the remaining loop on the crochet hook until it becomes very large, tie a knot in it and then break your yarn.
6) Your provisional cast-on is now complete and you are ready to knit! This is how the cast-on looks after a few rows of knitting.
When you have finished the body of knitting and wish to remove the provisional cast-on, carefully undo the knot in the waste yarn and start to remove the chain. Don’t rip the chain out quickly – you could lose or drop stitches – so it is best to remove them carefully, one by one. The tutorial for removing the provisional cast-on goes through it in more detail – it’s worth a look.

If there is any instance when you need to cast off then cast on again in a piece of knitting, this cast-on method works perfectly, as it mirrors a regular cast-off very nicely. Edited to add: I’ve now got a tutorial for this – the Crochet Cast-on


A Quick Tip

Occasionally knitters have gotten stuck working one of my sideways patterns. It’s happened when they’ve come to graft and they’ve got an extra row. We’ve checked and they’ve followed the pattern instructions, but something’s still not right.

Turns out they’ve worked a plain row of knit stitches straight after the provisional cast-on. And I couldn’t understand why, especially as the pattern doesn’t instruct you to. It seems that a lot of people have been given the advice to work a plain row straight after the cast-on and I say…. please don’t!

Sure, it makes removing the provisional cast-on a bit easier. But it screws up the graft. I like to throw all sorts of stitch patterns into my sideways knit Hats and rather than have you graft in pattern – which is where that rogue plain row leads you – I’d rather you dive straight into the pattern and then graft in either stocking stitch or garter stitch. Doing it this way leaves room for a simpler graft, albeit sometimes with a bit of prep, and a lot more room for creativity in the stitch patterns themselves.

Unless a pattern tells you to work a plain row after provisionally casting on, don’t 🙂


As always, if you have a question about this technique or need some help with it, leave a comment below! I’m afraid I’m unable to offer help via email or private message, but you’re welcome to post in our forum.


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  1. SP

    This is the first blog that explicitly asks not to do a knit row after a provisional CO using crochet. I have been breaking my head over a pattern that does not suggest which CO method to use, but the pattern has the first row as WS row – which left me wondering how can I start the first row after a crochet CO (crocheting a loop directly on the needle and NOT looping a stitch on the back side of a crochet chain) as the WS row, without a row of knits ?!!

    • Woolly Wormhead

      If you’re using this cast on as a provisional cast on then you just work the first row of the pattern as given – you don’t need a row of knits, as that’ll be replaced by the graft. You can just work in pattern straight onto the provisional cast on, and then when the stitches are released you’ll get the underside of that first row that’ll be grafted!

      That WS row will still be a WS row once you’ve removed the provisional cast-on, that won’t change.

      I suggest this because grafting replaces one full row, and it’s easier to graft a knit row than it is to graft in pattern.


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