A different provisional cast on method

KenInMaine's picture

Hello Gents! I am currently working on a project that requires a provisional cast on (PCO). I haven't knit a lot of items that use a PCO, but when I have I've used the crochet chain method. This works pretty well and has the nice feature of a sturdy and easily unraveled PCO edge. But I've always been annoyed by the fact that when you go back to put those stitches on your needle, you are always one short.

Yes, you can fudge it. One way to do that is by wrapping the cast on tail around the needle and making it a stitch. You can also increase one once you've picked up your stitches from the PCO edge. Another way around it is to cast on one more stitch than you need. That will make your stitch count correct when you go back to pick up those stitches, but you will have to decrease one on the first side to even it out. All these methods technically work, but seems fiddly to me and not very satisfying.

That dissatisfaction lead me to try to find a new way to go about things. After just a little searching I did find something and couldn't wait to share it! It comes from Jen over on her PORING OVER blog. The answer comes in the form of Judy's Magic Cast On (JMCO), which is normally used for toe-up socks. But you can easily substitute it wherever a PCO is called for you will end up with an equal number of stitches on both sides of your work. Brilliant! And makes me wonder, "why didn't I think of that?!"

Follow the link (in caps) above to her website if you're interested. On that page she has a video which shares how to proceed once you have cast on using JMCO. If you're unfamiliar with JMCO, she has a link to show you how that is done as well. Hope this helps someone else as much as it did me! Take care.


CLABBERS's picture

Is there another reason that

Is there another reason that people use the PO other than that is what they are used to?

Tallguy's picture

The purpose of the PO cast-on

The purpose of the PO cast-on is to have live stitches available to work in the other direction. There are many reasons for doing that. Some have been discussed here.

The one other thing I like to use it for is to have the cast-off edge on both ends. That is, it is very difficult to get the cast-on and cast-off edge the same. Sometimes the cast-on edge is not as stretchy as the cast-off. So therefore, I cast-off at both ends! I leave those live stitches at the beginning, and when done, will go back and handle that row as the cast-off edge, and then both ends will have the same finish. It's most useful for a scarf, for example, knit legthwise, so both side edges will be the same. Small thing, but it makes me happier if I can do it that way.

CLABBERS's picture

Yep, I know the purpose of

Yep, I know the purpose of the PO. I just wondered how others use it. I like the idea of having two cast-off edges. Thanks for the tip.

KenInMaine's picture

That's a great tip, thanks

That's a great tip, thanks for sharing it!

"To a hammer, everything is a

"To a hammer, everything is a nail" is my usual approach. I use a tubular cast-on, and then work only every other stitch and slide the un-worked stitches to an extra needle, achieving the same result. I prefer the tubular cast-on because it's so fast, you don't have to deal with two needles, and I use it for anything with a ribbed edge. I use a version of the chain cast-on only when I want to knit felted mittens from the cuff-up and then add a non-felted ribbed cuff. For this, I use a non-felting yarn or string for the chain, then felt the mittens with the chain in place. After they're dry, I remove the chain and use the live stitches to attach the cuff.

Bill's picture

Wonderful idea for doing the

Wonderful idea for doing the non-felted cuff!

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I'm tagging onto Bill's reply

I'm tagging onto Bill's reply since mine is a later comment. Thanks for the tip about tubular cast on for a provisional technique. I've never really mastered tubular cast on but this might give me an incentive to keep at it.

TinkerJones's picture

I haven't tried this, but it

I haven't tried this, but it was recommended to me to do the provisional cast on using the cable from circular needles to hold the stitches instead of waste yarn. Presumably this removes the necessity of unraveling the cast on and one needs only to slip the stitches onto a needle when it is time to work the stitches. Found this on youtube:

Has anyone tried this?

KenInMaine's picture

I haven't tried this exact

I haven't tried this exact cast on, though the end result looks the same as using Jenny's Magic Cast On with one long circular. So I think no matter which cast on you feel comfortable with you should get the same result; having live stitches waiting for you on the needle when you're ready to go back to them.

Tallguy's picture

When you do the provisional

When you do the provisional cast on, no matter what method you use, you are NOT one stitch short. You do have all the stitches there, only you can't see them all.

In fact, you have half a stitch at either end..... which looks like no stitch at all, so it appears that you are one stitch short. In truth, all your stitches are off-set by half a stitch -- which annoys me when I want to knit in the other direction, and | can't get my columns to line up properly. The way to work around that is to use some sort of transitional patterning, perhaps a couple of rows of stocking stitch or garter stitch or some other patterning, which will obscure the fact that your columns do not line up perfectly.

In your case, where it appears you are one stitch short, you can add that one stitch at one edge, and it seems to be acceptable, but not entirely to my satisfaction. That is the peculiarities of the mechanics of knitting!

KenInMaine's picture

Exactly why I like using the

Exactly why I like using the JMCO because you don't have to fiddle with those pesky half stitches!

Crafty Andy's picture

I like that cast one a lot.

I like that cast one a lot. Sometimes depending on what it is I use a circular needle that I leave live. This way it is a snap to knit or graft.

Bill's picture

That's very sensible! Thank

That's very sensible!
Thank you!

Thunderhorse54's picture

I've never used a PCO, I'm

I've never used a PCO, I'm not sure of it's use. I've never designed anything, all my work coming from patterns. And as of yet I haven't come across a pattern calling for it.

CLABBERS's picture

Terry, Some toe-up socks

Some toe-up socks like to start with a provisional cast on (PO). I usually Judy's Magic Cast on for toe-up socks.
Here is the traditional provisional cast on by Staci at VeryPink.com. She uses the crochet chain to start her PO.
People use PO when they want to have live ends so that knitting can go in the opposite direction later, or if you want to end up back where you began and then join things using a Kitchener Stitch. I have seen some 3D designs that use PO so they can end up with a stuffed toy, then Kitchener it closed. There are lots of applications for it. It is safe to say that the crochet version below is fiddly at best, so Ken's idea is a great answer to those of us with fingers less coordinated than others.



KenInMaine's picture

Thanks for giving a great

Thanks for giving a great explanation, Mark!

CLABBERS's picture

Ken, Brilliant! I hate PCO,

Brilliant! I hate PCO, but this makes it easy. Thanks for the great link.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Thanks for sharing, Ken. I'll

Thanks for sharing, Ken. I'll keep this in mind for a project I'm developing.