The provisional or temporary cast on is used when you will knit from the foundation row, in the opposite direction, at a later stage of construction. It may be used in a toe-up sock, when adding ribbing to the lower edge of a garment or when you will be picking up stitches from the foundation row to work later. One of the dresses I recently knitted has cross-wise bands of cables; using a provisional cast on helps avoid bulk where the two end seams are joined in the round. The provisional cast on results in a smooth transition between sets of stitches. Read more .... for fully illustrated article and instructional videos. Click on a thumbnail to view a larger image.
ou want to add waist ribbing to a sweater knitted from the bottom up, but are not sure what length suits you best, the provisional cast on gives you the latitude to knit the body of the sweater first and later pick up stitches from the foundation row and knit the ribbing.
This article is one segment of the "Basic Toe-Up Sock" series. The demonstration sock, a woman's medium size, is based on 64 leg sts. To link to other articles in this series, either: a) click on the index hyperlink in the masthead, then socks and select the desired article or, b) click on the Basic Toe-Up Socks link at the bottom of this article, then click on the desired topic.
Basic Toe Up Sock - Provisional Cast On
For the provisional cast on, it is important to use a high contrast color yarn of the same weight as the sock yarn. I knitted the toes with 2.0 mm diameter needles, for higher durability, but cast on with 2.5 mm needles, so that the first row is not too tight to work.
2.5 mm crochet needle
2.5 mm dpn
2.0 mm dpns (4)
Waste yarn, fingering weight (blue in photos below)
Sock yarn, fingering weight, (white in photos below)
Provisional Cast On StepsClick on any thumbnail, to view a larger image. Step 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7
Make a slip knot with the waste yarn and place the knot on a 2.5 mm crochet needle. Pass the yarn under the 2.5 mm dpn. The crochet needle size can be varied somewhat as the "loops" of importance will be determined by the dpn diameter.
With the crochet needle, draw a loop over the dpn.
The 3rd photograph shows the loop being drawn through the slip knot on the crochet needle.
To begin the next loop, pass the yarn under the dpn.
The 5th photo shows the yarn passing under the dpn.
The 6th photo shows another loop being formed.
For the women's medium sock, only 12 stitches need to be cast on. I have added an extra provisional loop (that won't be used) to remind me which end is the start of the crochet chain. The crochet chain gets unzipped from the last loop, not the slip stitch beginning.
Using the main color yarn, knit 12 sts through the loops.
Cut the waste yarn, leaving a 6" tail.
Quality Control Tips
The waste yarn color needs to contrast sharply with the sock yarn, to make it easy to pick up the loops and unzip the chain.
In the photo I added an extra loop so that there was no doubt about which end was the start. (Now I add anywhere from 3-6 extra loops to identify the beginning. It also provides insurance if you miscounted or dropped a loop during your first knitted row. This revised method is demonstrated in the videos below.) When I knitted the the loops, the original slip knot was left unworked. It is quite obvious in the photo above.
Select a waste yarn the same gauge as the sock yarn.
NEXT STEP - Starting the Toes
Transfer the provisional stitches from the 2.5 mm dpn to a 2.0 mm dpn. Six rows are worked in stockinette stitch, creating a small rectangle, which will be used to form the toes.
Click here to transfer to the Basic Toe Up Sock article.