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Fearless Sock Knitting + a Cast-On Tutorial from Sockupied!

Sep 17, 2010
Ann Budd's Twisted Diamonds begin with the Channel Island cast-on.

In our new eMag, Sockupied, knitting expert Karen Frisa provides directions and demos for several different cast-ons, and I'm highlighting the Channel Island cast-on for you here on Knitting Daily.

This cast-on is really pretty—it has a picot look—and very stretchy, so it's perfect for socks. (And it's used in Anne Budd's new pattern featured in Sockupied, Twisted Diamonds!)

The Channel Island Cast-On
by Karen Frisa

A certain cast-on method can make or break your top-down socks.

Not only can it add a nice decorative edge, but it can mean the difference between socks that go on easily and socks that don't!

It's important that your cast-on be stretchy enough to span the biggest circumference of your foot—between the top of the ankle and the back of the heel—so you can pull the sock on comfortably. The top edge of the sock also has to stretch more than the rest of the sock leg, since it sits where the calf widens.

Interestingly, most of us think that if our socks are falling down the ribbing needs to be tighter, but it could just be that the cast-on is too tight for your calf.

Here's a video demo with Interweave Knits editor Eunny Jang.

And here are the written instructions with a cool animated step-by-step illustration!

How to do the Channel Island cast-on (if you can't see the animation, click here)

1. Holding three strands of yarn together, make a slipknot about six inches from the ends and place it on the right needle (this does not count as a stitch). Divide the three strands, using a single strand as the working yarn and the two remaining strands as the tail.

2. Place the single strand around the index finger. Wrap the two-strand tail counterclockwise around the thumb so that two wraps are visible below your thumbnail. Make a yarnover on the needle with the single strand (see the animated illustration at right).

3. Beginning at the base of the thumb, slide the needle up through both loops on the thumb, then bring it over the single strand going to the index finger to grab it, then go back down through the two loops on the thumb (see the animated illustration at right, second and third frames). Drop the thumb loops and tighten all three yarns.

Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for the desired number of stitches; each repeat creates two stitches. Distribute the stitches over your chosen needles and remove the slipknot from the needles (but don't undo it) before joining for working in the round, knitting the "beaded" stitches and purling the yarnovers. Undo the slipknot just before weaving in the tails.


Try this cast-on technique on your next pair of socks. I think you'll like how it looks and behaves.

And if you haven't purchased this special issue of Sockupied yet, get yours now! What's so special about the eMag format is that there's something for every type of learner.

In the cast-on article I've excerpted from above, you'll get Karen's step-by-step text, Eunny's demonstration videos, step-by-step animated illustrations, plus a PDF of the article to download, print and tuck in your knitting bag.

I hope you enjoy this new cast-on technique!


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calltab wrote
on Jan 14, 2011 4:20 PM

Glad to have one more option. Question???  Do you treat the stitches as one or as individual stitches when you start your first row.?

on Oct 6, 2010 10:41 AM

There is another I once saw a chinese friend did --method of cast on which has a long underlying thread all along as you cast on the stitches and after the casting on it is pulled out to leave a nice edge. I have been looking for this everywhere. Can someone help and email me at

PennyG@3 wrote
on Sep 25, 2010 6:38 AM

What a beautiful cast on - can't wait to try it on both socks and gloves.  Thanks so much.  - Joanne, regarding the cast off, I usually have my students use a crochet hook as though it were the right hand needle, work the rib pattern and pull the second stitch through the first rather than bottom over top as usual cast off.  This helps both with ease because of the hook and helps to keep it from being overly tightened.  Hope this helps.  Penny

bojanica wrote
on Sep 25, 2010 12:50 AM

Thank you verry much for the wonderful lession

JoanneP@14 wrote
on Sep 19, 2010 10:14 AM

What a great idea for a cast on. Thanks for sharing it with us!

on Sep 18, 2010 9:58 AM

I have a nicer way to start than making a knot do an actual st. My mother taught me her old world way.  its neater and if you also cut the tail loop at start you can incoprate the tail into your knitting no sewing necissary but you have to make sure you have enough tail to start with to do the pattern first. before cutting. thankyou for this video   very very nice  shirleycrafty.

henderslu wrote
on Sep 18, 2010 8:18 AM

Hi Kathleen,

Great tutorial for sock cast-ons! Thanks.

My problem comes at the other end - the cast-off. When I am knitting something like a headband, or leg-warmers, especially when there is ribbing involved, I continually struggle with my cast-off row being too tight. I have tried using larger gauge needles and other techniques, but nothing gives an even tension, and they are unsightly.

Do you have any suggestions that would reduce my frustration?

Thank you!


MarinaF wrote
on Sep 18, 2010 12:16 AM

Thanks for this very clear video, I think I will try this cast-on for a pair of gloves I have to knit.

Marina, Belgium

jltait wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 1:02 PM

@tinkinchick: That's using your noodle. Thanks.

Lpatrick_99 wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 12:44 PM

Thank you for a sock cuff cast on for larger calved legs. I can see this will work well for me.

SeannaL wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 10:31 AM

That is a lovely cast on. The video was very helpful, because I wasn't sure the best way to generate the three strands.

GlanaR wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 10:26 AM

Hello everyone!

I'm here in Brazil I am passionate about KD!

I loved this technique, you are awesome, thank you!

A BIG hug

Glana Ricci

LoopyLacer wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 10:09 AM

I recently found a very cute pattern for a beanie that calls for this cast-on; I didn't know what it was and was going to have to look it up, then low and behold here it is on Knitting Daily!

tinkinchick wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 9:53 AM


You could try wrapping the yarn around the needle the same number of stitches needed to cast on.......that should give you an approximate length required.

alpaca sonya wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 9:52 AM

I love the way this looks a very pretty solid top edge.  It looks like you had a gap at the top edge?  Does it join in the round normally?

Mima MN wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 8:31 AM

I am SO impressed with what you've done here! Thank you for presenting the information in three distinct ways. Each method of teaching me reinforces the others.

Thank you, also, for showing us this fascinating cast-on. I can't wait to work with it on many HK projects. Now, if I could just figure out how to do this on a knitting machine as well, I'd be in heaven.

Please keep the ideas coming, and I hope you will include some projects designed for both hand and machine knitting.

jltait wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 8:24 AM

This is a beautiful cast-on technique. Thanks for the great tutorial.

One question: How do you gauge how much yarn for the tail? I've been practicing my long-tail cast-on using the 1 inch per stitch metric (that I read somewhere) but usually end up wasting yarn.


pbowers01 wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 8:07 AM

What a good teacher you are!   Wonderful lesson.  Nice cast on.

Karen720 wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 7:39 AM

I'll be making socks for Christmas.  I will definately try this cast-on.  Very good video as well.  Karen

craftyexpat wrote
on Sep 17, 2010 6:21 AM

What a fascinating cast on! I've never tried that one before, but I'm definitely going to! Very clear video, thanks!

on Sep 17, 2010 6:20 AM

Just today I wandered if there was a different way to cast on socks than the way I had always been doing it. And here is the answer. Thank you. Elisabeth