Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Only Cast-on You Need To Know for Toe-Up Socks... the Turkish cast-on. The others (figure 8, judy's magic) are harder and do not add any additional value, IMO. The Turkish cast-on is ridiculously simple and can double as a provisional cast-on. Why use up valuable braincells on any others?

I've blogged about this one before, but it seems my favorite resources are gone off the InterWebz, so here are some photos and a little "how-to". I had to teach my local knitgroup this cast-on, which resulted in some excellent tips, which have been incorporated into this instruction set.

For first-timers, use a light coloured wool. It's easier to see what you're doing. I'll describe the process for two-at-a-time socks.

1. using one ball of the yarn, make a slipknot on one end of your circ. Hold the needles in your left hand so the tips are pointing to the right and the slipknot is on the bottom needle.  See below.

[slipknot on bottom needle]

2. Now start winding the yarn around both needles, from the back to the front ("like the sun rising over the horizon, towards you", a helpful tip from one of my knitgroup knitters!), counting as you go for each stitch thus wound - ie. cast - on. I usually do 12 to 14 stitches for a pair of grownup socks.

[start winding, up over the top, from the back to the front]

[keep going until you've wound on enough stitches]

3. When you've wound on / cast on enough, trap the yarn between the two needles to hold it while you cast on for the second sock.

[trap the yarn between the needles so you can cast on for the next sock]

4. Start with a slipknot on the bottom needle again. Note: it's a little easier to get the slipknot on if you pull the bottom needle out a little! Then wind on again, the same way as you did for the first sock, and trap the yarn between the needles again.

[slipknot on bottom needle for second sock, pull the bottom needle out a little]

[cast on complete for both socks]

5. Done, that's the cast-on. Unbelievably simple, eh? Now comes the fiddly bit, which is where you start knitting. Free the yarn from between the two needles and make sure it comes up from the bottom needle, behind both. Gently pull the bottom needle out (to the right) and use it to start knitting off the top needle. It should feel quite natural and not hard, the yarn loops should lean the correct way and it shouldn't feel like you're making twisted stitches. If it does, it means you wound on in the opposite direction ("setting sun"), so yeah, you'll need to start over.

[untrap the yarn, keep it behind the needles, and start knitting off the top needle]

6. Once you've knit both socks' worth of top-needle stitches, you'll have all the stitches on the top needle, which is now facing left, and a loop hanging on your right. Your other needle is hanging on the left, and it will shortly be the new bottom needle. Carefully and slowly push the bottom cord into the stitches and pull on the top needle, maintaining that loop on the right, until the bottom needle (rather than the cable) holds the stitches and the top needle is free. It's helpful to maintain the orientation of your knitting, don't flip it around just yet. 

[top stitches all knit, tip of needle is on the left (I'm holding it) 
and loop is on the right; 
push the bottom cable to the right, into the stitches; 
pull the top needle left, out of the stitches.]

7. Now flip everything over (swing the needle tips around 180 degrees) so that the needle holding the stitches is on top and the tip is pointing right. You'll see the slipknots on the top needle, as the first thing. Remove the slipknot. Drop it off the needle. Do not knit it. Being very careful to use the correct yarn - ie. NOT the end hanging off the slipknot! - knit the rest of the cast-on stitches. That's it. You are done, with two rows knit already, and you are ready for the cast-on part of the toe end of your sock! 

[almost ready to knit the other row; 
the slipknot is first on the top needle]

Now just continue as per usual, increasing for the toe of your socks. It's just that easy! Another tip from my knitgroup: use a YO increase every other row - it's much easier to see than a Kfb. On the plain knit rows, you can tighten them up by knitting the YO's TBL. 

Here's a photo of my socks, showing a few rows knit (and increased). You can see the cast-on is basically invisible from both front and back. 

[up close you can't see the cast-on, in the middle of this knitting]

[invisible from the back, too!]

To use this cast-on as a provisional cast-on (note: it has the same number of stitches in either direction, which is something you won't get from some other provisional cast-ons - like the crochet cast-on, for instance), cast on over a second circular needle, which you simply leave hanging. You can replace it with a holder (ex. string) later. 


  1. I love that cast-on also and it's what I use when knitting socks. It seems as though I always have them on my knitting needles. The minimum I'll knit is two at a time.

  2. thank you very much fornsharing this technique ! First attempt to knit socks toe up sonthis is very helpful. And congrats for your medal.