Hannah and Louisa are about to cast on for the Tara Jacket from Knitscene Winter 2013, as part of the Tara Jacket Knitalong, and came to me because their provisional cast-on skills are a little rusty.
A provisional cast-on can be an incredibly useful tool. If you're knitting a scarf or stole that is worked from the "inside out," you might use a provisional cast-on so that you can work from one center cast on line to both ends. This technique is also handy if you're knitting a folded hem, say at the bottom of a sweater pattern or the cuff of socks.
In the case of the Tara Jacket, Ashley Rao uses a specific tubular cast-on technique that calls for a provisional cast-on and then a double-knitting technique to create an incredibly stretchy edge at the bottom of the jacket. I shot a short video demonstrating the provisional cast-on and an abbreviated version of the double-knitting technique.
Most provisional cast-ons call for waste yarn, and if I had used a waste yarn, I wouldn't have ended up with those little loops at the end. But I like to use a spare cable because
- A. I know I'm not accidentally going to get a ply of yarn caught up when I'm knitting and
- B. Since I mostly use this technique for folded hems, I can just attach a spare set of interchangeable needle tips to the cable and work from there—no need to pick out the waste yarn and put the stitches on another needle.
Do you have any tips or tricks for working a provisional cast-on? Leave them in the comments below!