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Learn a New Cast-On: Tubular Cast-On Video

Nov 19, 2008

Note from Sandi: You use different knitting needles for different kinds of knitting, right? So why use the same cast-on all the time for everything? Eunny Jang, editor of Interweave Knits, once again is our guest here on Knitting Daily, to show us how to do an alternative cast-on method--and when to use it! Heeeeerrrrre's Eunny!

We here at Interweave Knits believe that every knitter should have the tools to be their own designer and their own draftsman.
We publish patterns in every issue, it’s true, but we don’t believe that knitting should always be about following every single pattern to a "T": Knitting is personal and intimate, and if you can make a modification to a pattern that makes it work better for you, all the better. We’re excited by all the different approaches knitters can (and do!) take to knitting up our patterns – knitting’s got a long history stretching out behind it, and every change, every experiment, adds to the collective store of knitting knowledge. 

To that end, Knits is also in the business of stocking your knitting toolkit with information about new techniques and clear-cut explanations of old ones. Knowing what to do, and why, and when, can be just as important as knowing the techniques themselves. Today, we bring you both the what and the why: a video showing you how to do a tubular cast-on, and a detailed look at a design from the Winter issue, with some thoughts on why – and how – you might make one technique choice over another.

View Eunny's tubular cast-on video


(problems viewing this youtube video? View it here)


Why the tubular cast-on?

Emilee Mooney’s Dainty Pinstripes Pullover takes an unusual approach to slip-stitch knitting: Knitted in the round, with narrow horizontal stripes and slipped-stitch columns that form delicate pinstripes, it uses decreases and increases to force the pinstripes along shaping lines. The stripes follow darts and tucks, flaring out from the waist, emphasizing (or creating) an hourglass silhouette. The sweater is knitted in a supple, fluid alpaca/silk blend that drapes and flows: the final result is a decidedly refined, polished sweater that is surprisingly straightforward to knit.

Everyone’s got a favorite cast-on and bind off they use all the time.
This time, though, we – and Emilee – suggest using tubular (invisible) cast-ons and bind-offs for this sweater. Why? Because they create beautifully finished, polished edges that have all the elasticity of the ribbing itself. There won’t be any puckering at the edges, as can happen with “hard” cast-ons, and they’ll hold their shape at the neckline and cuffs. Also, it’s very easy to substitute a tubular cast-on when working in 1x1 rib. All in all, a highly recommended choice for this sweater.

Check out our Beyond the Basics from Knits Fall 2008 for step-by-step instructions for invisible cast-ons and bind offs, or take a peek at the video above for a how-to on invisible cast-ons: some of the odder movements might be clearer once you’ve seen them in action.

Try using these edges anywhere you have 1x1 or 2x2 ribbing and want either a very polished, professional look, or extra elasticity, or both! They’re particularly good for neckbands, sleeve cuffs, hat edges, and sock cuffs – anywhere you need real elasticity that needs to both stretch and snap back.

Happy knitting!
-- Eunny Jang
Editor, Interweave Knits

Want to become a subscriber to Interweave Knits? Learn more!

What's on Sandi's needles? I really did not intend to get so caught up in Nancy Bush's Leaf and Nupp Shawl (from our new book Knitted Lace of Estonia) that it would push everything else out of the way--but that's what happened. I was travelling this week, and somehow I managed to get six of the fourteen center repeats done in only a week's time. It's so much fun to see the lace pattern growing so quickly...however, now I am in a bit of a pickle. All the women members of my family whom I am visiting are pointedly discussing what color they would like their shawl to be... 

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CatherineL wrote
on Sep 5, 2011 10:16 AM

That's a wonderfully easy technique but for lots and lots of stitches (eg a waistband of a sweater) I love a different technique by Pieknits

It uses a regular cast on and can be knit in the round right from the get go. It's very simple and easy to understand. I tried it on a hat band and it worked perfectly.

With Pieknit's method you don't have to knit so many rows using waste yarn - you just cast on with waste yarn and start knitting with your real yarn right away.

qwer246 wrote
on Oct 14, 2010 11:29 AM

Would it be possible to do a  video on invisible rib bind off in the near future,thank you.

nuts4fiber wrote
on Jan 17, 2009 9:42 AM
CherylM, Eunny is knitting Continental style in this video. The working yarn is held in the left hand and the stitches are "picked" rather than "thrown". I like this method because I can use it for crochet and knitting (I do both right-handed), and I find it faster. I am always fascinated to see how different knitters wrap the yarn in their hand, though. Everyone has their own method! And for people who are looking for a flexible bind-off for toe-up socks, ending in ribbing, you could use the "Norwegian Bind-off", done with a yarn needle.
carmel71 wrote
on Dec 27, 2008 4:37 PM
I just made a dishcloth using this cast-on. It gave the dishcloth a "scrubber" edge. It also makes the edge more sturdy.
carmel71 wrote
on Dec 24, 2008 8:52 PM
Thank you for the lesson. How do I save this so I can reference it later?
CynthiaG wrote
on Dec 12, 2008 2:10 PM
If I don't want to save the video with my knitting daily e-mail, where I can I find it later at the knitting daily site? I've looked, and I can't find the instructional videos.
AlexisT wrote
on Nov 25, 2008 4:38 PM
What a great video -- thanks so much! :D
CherylM wrote
on Nov 23, 2008 8:15 AM
Interesting cast on technique but what a weird way to hold the wool. Normally you hold the tail wool in your right hand, was the knitter left handed? Like everyone else seems to find it, it is easier to pick up a new technique if you are shown how to do it rather than follow written instructions
CarolR wrote
on Nov 21, 2008 12:36 PM
Sandi, I see a lot of people requesting videos (or other help) on a variety of topics. Does this Web site have a sort of wish list, a place for us to let you know what we'd like to see demo-ed?
knittuh wrote
on Nov 20, 2008 6:24 PM
So-o easy! If I had read a description of how to do this, I probably would have set it aside for later, when there was time to figure it out. The video made the "How" very quickly very clear. Thank you.
CarolP wrote
on Nov 20, 2008 9:55 AM
I really like the video. I am doing a toe up sock right now and about to bind off. Would you please consider making a video of how-to on Knit Daily on a Totally Tubular Cast Off?
PattiP wrote
on Nov 20, 2008 8:59 AM
Hi Knitting Daily, I read with interest that Sandi's projects are numerous. I picked up my knitting needle roll on Monday and wondered where my knitting needles were? You guessed it, startitis! Thanks for the tute on tubular cast on. Very neat. the next time I cast on a pair of socks, I'll try it. Regards Patti
dalzelle wrote
on Nov 20, 2008 8:39 AM
I'm always interested in learning a new technique, and a cast-on that doesn't tighten the end of ribbing is great. Just wondering, though, if knitters have noticed that European knitting rarely uses ribbing? They use a lot of crocheted edgings, which gives a finished custom look to garments. And without ribbing garments hang rather than cling.
on Nov 20, 2008 8:01 AM
And Yes! How about that Double-Knitting cast-On? Close in the cast on one half the number of stitches, but not the same purpose in the end?
Barb.E wrote
on Nov 20, 2008 7:53 AM
Excellent! Thank you for the video. It sounds so scary reading about it, but the video really helps visualize it better. Can't wait to try it!!
on Nov 20, 2008 7:47 AM
WOAH! Clever! Useful! Elegant! BUT--- Not the same as the "Tubular cast-On" shown in my Knitter's Handbook from XRX Books--that one has two rows of double-knit to form the "roll", after long-tail sort of swinging pickup that puts one yarn as the knits, the tail yarn as the purls. Also not the same as the "Invisible (Provsional) Cast-On" in the glossary of Knitting Daily/and shown in IW Knits Fall "08, where one yarn forms knits and purls around a waste yarn or even an extra cable needle. That one is nothing like the "Invisible or Open Cast-On in the knitter's Companion (1996 edition)--a provisional cast-on done much like Long-Tail, and then clipped away, or teased out. I just went through all my reference books looking for this extra-stretchy-type 1x1 rib cast-on for sock tops, and also for the best Provisional CO to use when felting-- This is too much of a good thing, with maybe too few names being shared among them---where are the knitting dictionary police when you need them? Anyway THANKS! Great video, and a totally new technique to me!
Sheryl wrote
on Nov 20, 2008 6:15 AM
I'm just amazed at the wealth of knitting knowledge out there to be shared. This video came at the perfect time!! I was just beginning the Endpaper Mittens and had never done a tubular cast-on. I did a Google search and found a couple of different methods, but I have to say this one is the most straightforward! Thank you so much for sharing!!! And my first mitten came out beautifully!!!
DUchida wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 10:16 PM
Great information. This was more understandable than the books I've read. Thanks!
Morningdov wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 8:59 PM
How do I view these videos.? I did finally get the one today but when the titles of the other ones come up and you click on them it brings up a message that says, Sorry, this video is not longer available. I was especially interested in todays (tubular cast on) and in the double knitting one. Does it make a difference that I have dial up internet and not high speed?
on Nov 19, 2008 6:53 PM
WOW, all these responses/questions help me so much in answering my students' questions. Micki H needs to refer to a number of texts avaiable that explain the technique adequately. I too prefer well written instructions, BUT too often the system traps people into thinking there is only the new way. I did enjoy the video even without editing. This CO is another good reason to never cast off those bits of yarn from projects....use them as waste yarn.
LauraR@5 wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 6:50 PM
That was great! I think I'm going to rip out the cuff on this glove I started and do it over with this cast-on. I would really love to read/see more about when you might like to use other cast-on/bind-off methods. I really don't know which ones are good for what.
PatriciaS@4 wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 6:26 PM
Could Eunny show us SLOWLY how to make a slip knot. I know this is basic, but her slip is much more complicated than just a loop on itself.
Micki H wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 6:01 PM
I think tubular cast-on sounds wonderful, but I'm not able to view the video- let's say I don't choose to take the time to download it. You see, we still have dial-up internet, not by choice, but for now this is what we live with. I keep knitting at the computer, but it takes sooo long to get a video, and I have many other online places to visit. Please don't do away completely with the other type of instruction- written with pictures. Thank you!
ShonaD wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 5:33 PM
I have been using this method for 40 years, and for the last waste wool row I use a cut off piece of wool, which can then be pulled out when stitches are caught up, no cutting required.
Wyndlestraw wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 4:08 PM
Anne wrote: << I'm curious why one couldn't use a provisional cast on, >> That's another way of doing this and is the way I use all the time. It saves having to knit extra rows in WY and then cutting them out. The way Eunny showed is the hand knitting equivalent of the way you do this on a knitting machine and is equally good. Both work just fine. Carol R wrote: << are there situations in which you WOULDN'T want to use it? >> The tuibular CO & BO can be a little tooooo stretchy for some situations where you want a firmer edge, such as the edge of a bag or a buttonband for example. Great for socks, gloves, cuffs etc, though. Good video, Eunny. Thanks. Moi.
LindaF wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 3:42 PM
Great tutorial. I was just reading about this method the other day. How nice to see the video. And the other gem in this video is to see how Eunny knits! Can we see another video of just knit stitches and purl stitches. And in both regular and slow motion. This may be the method I need to speed up my knitting. Thanks.
annekaelber wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 3:06 PM
I'm curious why one couldn't use a provisional cast on, knit from both ends for 2 rows and then fold the knitting and bring the two ends into one row. Wouldn't this simplify the different rib sizes desired? Or am I missing something this technique provides? Anne.
StephenieS wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 1:51 PM
Thanks so much! I have been trying to figure out how to get my knits to look better- this should really help! CAN YOU DO A VIDEO ON THE TUBULAR CAST/BIND OFF?
on Nov 19, 2008 1:38 PM
Awesome and how wondelful to get skill help from KD, thanks!! Since with all human endeavor there is room for improvement, I agree with SkyeP that there is a need, didactically speaking, to recognize the learner by slowing down and using the camera more effectively (get closer and repeat each point from different perspectives). You ARE the bomb, Eunny, but I am a slower, far less experienced knitter and so...I could use a longer video. Next season, perhaps?
on Nov 19, 2008 1:20 PM
You've made it look so EASY! Thanks. Would you also consider making a similar video of the tubular cast off? Thanks.... David Thomas MD
littlekidd wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 1:05 PM
Thanks for this Eunny! FYI - One clarification you may or may not want to make: In your video, aren't you kbl the stitches you pick up, so you can untwist them in the process of knitting them?
ZassZ wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 1:00 PM
To: dulcinea I wanted to ask why your mother does not cut the stitches when she did this cast on? What happense to the excess rows of stitches? Also I was wondering also why only cast on HALF the # of stitches but I can see it is because you immediately DOUBLE the # of stitches when you pick up the Purl bump from row below so that makes sense. How do you use this as a BIND OFF since you would already have the correct amount of stitches do you bind off 2 stitches together ?
CharleneC wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 12:26 PM
OMG! I tried this a little while ago....What fun! I truly liked this cast on. I cannot wait to finish the sock I started and get going on the next one! This was a bonus!
Mary AnnB wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 12:17 PM
Marsha, I think you can do the same as CarolR suggests above. As I see it, you are not REQUIRED to purl the stitch you pick up. Just make sure you are not twisting the stitch when you knit it. You will end up purling some of the stitches knit on the row below, but if that row is on the inside of the sweater, or sock it should not be an issue.
on Nov 19, 2008 11:54 AM
Thanks so much for this information! I got my first taste of tubular cast-on in a workshop with Margaret Fisher at Knitters' Day Out in Pennsylvania this past September. I'm delighted to have this refresher! Question: I'm about to start a new project, a sweater that has 4x2 ribbing. Is it possible to do a 4x2 tubular cast-on? One blogger who knit the same sweater last year used a 2x2 cast on then switched to 4x2 ribbing, but I think the result is pretty unattractive. Right now, it looks like my only options is a non-tubular cast-on, which results in a clear line at the cast-on edge. Not a design disaster, but still...if I could find a way to get that nice tubular edge I'd be delighted. Suggestions?
MelissaH wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 11:54 AM
I always learn something new at Knitting Daily and, since I'm a novice knitter, this information is GOLD to me! Thanks so much to KD and Eunny Jang for these wonderful tutorials (I'm a visual learner so seeing it done helps SO much!) Tubular...can't wait to try it! (Having said that, the only suggestion I can think of to improve the videos would be to have the person knitting s l o w down a little so us beginners can follow it a bit better. I usually have to play the video three or four times before trying it and another three or four times, or more, as I'm trying it. Not complaining...just suggesting!)
dulcinea wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 11:53 AM
watching the video remind me a similar cast on that my Mother used to do, but she did not cut the yarn on the bottom, she used to do this type of casting for sweaters, since it becomes very "elastic", My Mother lives in Mexico, and she did this 35 years ago. Thank you for reminding me of this cast-on.
AndreaL wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 11:43 AM
Well, slap me with a wet fish and call me stinky! This is so easy - guess what I'll be using next time (as I'm now halfway up the second sleeve of my latest cardigan). Thanks, Eunny!
CarolR wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 11:36 AM
Ah, just thought of another question: I understand why you'd want to use this type of cast-on, but are there situations in which you WOULDN'T want to use it? For example, would this not be so great for a top-down sweater with, say, a boat neckline? Would that extra stretch be unwelcome there? Or would this cast-on look ugly whenever your rows after the cast-on are going to be "flat," e.g., stockinette?
SkyeP wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 11:30 AM
it has been disappointing to watch the first season of KnitDaily and see how poorly the camera work is done - the demonstrations are fast, often the camera is looking away from where the action is or is not clearly directed to what the learner would see, and the repetitions are absent or as poorly done as the demonstration . . .KnittyGritty does a much better job of pacing, repeating, homing in on details, and demonstrating techniques in a learnable fashion . . .if i had not already been knitting for years, i don't see how i would learn from these videos . . .it's not too late to improve them for season 3 . . . skye3149
Blue_Carol wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 11:25 AM
I was confused about the # of stitches, knitting in the round and a 2X2 rib! So, I found another online source that helped me.
CarolR wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 11:22 AM
"video was a great help, but why cast on only half the stitches needed?" Because for each stitch on your needles, you're going to pick up a purl bump, thus immediately doubling the number of stitches on your needle. If you didn't halve your stitches in the temporary cast-on, you'd end up with twice as many stitches as you should have. As for k2p2 ribbing, the way I understand it is this: Purl the 1st st on your needle, pick up the 1st purl bump and purl that (instead of knitting it); knit the 2nd stitch on your needle, pick up the 2nd purl bump and knit it; and so on. I'll have to test the method to see if any twisting is involved for the bumps you pick up and purl. But it seems to me the method is essentially the same for k2p2 as it is for k1p1, you just have to do 2 sts in a row the same instead of alternating each stitch. I hope that makes sense. Now, what I want to know is whether there's a comparable way to bind off. When I make a toe-up sock, I find the cuff not nearly stretchy enough.
JaimeG wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 11:04 AM
Eunny is using needles from Signature Needle Arts. They are one of the sponsors of season 2 of Knitting Daily TV -- making public television possible for viewers like you (I never get tired of saying that phrase... I love PBS). All needles are made right here in the USA; website:
on Nov 19, 2008 10:45 AM
THANKS for the video! I agree with SharonR... It was totally awesome and very concise, and reminds me very much of a machine knitted circular cast on technique done manually, without a ribber. I am going to use this cast on for the next pair of cuff-down socks I knit. THANKS again! OH... almost forgot... what brand of needles is Eunny using for the video. Anyone know? marlene in ohio :^)
SharonL@9 wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 10:31 AM
video was a great help, but why cast on only half the stitches needed?
KimA wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 10:29 AM
Great video, but, did she end up with 19 instead of 20 stitches with the last a purl from the original? If so, how do you end up with double your original number?
on Nov 19, 2008 10:26 AM
You don't have to change anything about how the actual tubular cast on is done for 2x2 rib. You just twist the stitches as you work the first row following what's shown in the video. P1, use a cable needle to hold the next stitch to the front, and purl the third stitch (the next on the left hand needle), knit the stitch on the cable needle and the next stitch on the left hand needle, etc. You don't even really need a cable needle to do it, but it makes it easier to explain.
SuzetteP wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 10:20 AM
If you start with a k2p2 base, I think you end up with a purl at the front of the k2p2 rows (based on what I saw, anyway). Basically, you purl the first, knit the second (like the video), then knit the 1st purl, and purl the second (same idea, but flipped). I should mention that I haven't done this, so I don't know if it works. Anyone who's done it is welcome to comment: I'd love to know if I'm right or about to really mess up my calorimetry (not that it's a big problem if it's messed up) by doing it this way.
JesD wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 10:13 AM
For the first time ever, I think I actually understand this cast on - thanks so much!
on Nov 19, 2008 10:11 AM
Thank you,It was much easier than it sounded
KathyAnneW wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 10:03 AM
Very cool! Thank you! I'm now planning to try this cast-on method at the ribbed sleeve cuff for the sweater I'm about to start! Probably for the sweater body, too! As for Irvine's question above... if I understand correctly, the stockinette rows were just to create the base for being able to then pick up the "every-other-stitch", and once you have the full row of P1 from needle, P1 pickup, THAT is now your starting point base for the 1x1 rib? However, that said... once you do have that starting-point base, if you want a 2x2 rib, do you just begin doing K2P2? or must you prepare a different base?
MaryF@3 wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 9:59 AM
I would also like to know how to do a 2 x 2 tubular cast-on please!
SharonR wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 9:50 AM
FREAKING AWESOME!!! Thanks so much - makes perfect sense.
katiebobus wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 9:39 AM
Can you do the tubular cast-on in the round? Kate
BarbaraR wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 9:37 AM
I also thank you as I never had understood what was meant by temporary row-it is fun to learn a new approach even tho knitting for 70 years-you all are great barbara
Trishnewton wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 9:36 AM
Thanks for the lesson. Acutally seeing it done on the video helped to remove the confusion. Trish
irvine wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 9:26 AM
I agree with TLD. If you claim it works well for a ribbed finish why did she illustrate it with stockinette? R> J>
TLD wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 9:22 AM
Thank you for the lesson! It's very understandable for 1x1 ribbing. I however I don't understand how to translate it to 2x2 ribbing. If that could be explained or if you could do another video for that it would be greatly appreciated! Tamara
Christine07 wrote
on Nov 19, 2008 9:15 AM
Thanks a lot for this lesson. It's great and I have understand it least because I've read it before on books and it was strange and dark. But now I've got it. Yesssss thanks a lot. Christine