You’ll need a crochet hook

pro-vi-sion-al (adj)

Provided or serving only for the time being.

Lately I have been coming across the provisional cast-on a lot. Three projects of mine started with one, customers have been bringing in projects and needed explanations for it – so I thought that is reason enough to show you how to do one.

As the definition says so well, we use an provisional cast-on only for the time being, meaning once the project is done, the cast-on will be undone and finished in one or the other way. Ususally the live stitches are either picked up to add some more knitting, or they are grafted with kitchener stitch to the live stitches of the other end of your knitting to achieve what is called a ‘seamless’ effect. In reality it is not really seamless, it only seems that way (ha, see what I did here?) since grafting is actually a seam, just a nearly invisible one. Confused yet?

Anyways, if you are ever in need of a provisional cast-on, here is the method I would recommend to first time users. With the crochet chain method your knitting sits secured until you actually pull it out for finishing. Also, the actual undoing of the cast-on is very easy – when done correctly.

Let’s get started!

Check your instructions for the amount of stitches to be cast-on provisionally. Take some yarn that is a size bigger that what you are working with (if you are using worsted, try a chunky; if you are using lace, a fingering will do – etc.  etc.) and a matching crochet hook. This is not strictly necessary but it does make things easier. Now make a crochet chain with about 10 stitches more than needed.

My number is random, as it is just for demonstration purposes.

On the left you see the right side of the crochet chain, it looks like a braid. Ignore this side for now. On the right you see the wrong side, or back, of the crochet chain with the all important bumps. 

According to your pattern and with your knitting needle, pick up the stitches into these bumps as needed.

This is the important part – make sure you only pick up into these bumps! 

The front of the chain should still look like this. The braid needs to be untouched.

Once  you have picked up as needed, proceed with your pattern as written. I’ll just knit a bit of Stockinette Stitch.

Ready to rip?

You have to undo your crochet from the last chain.

While unzipping your crochet chain, pick up the newly revealed stitches with another needle.

One stitch at a time. Otherwise you might lose one.

There. Ready for whatever comes next.

To re-cap some helpful hints:

– use a yarn of a larger gauge for your crochet chain, it makes picking up the stitches easier

– chain a few stitches more than you actually have to cast on

– make sure you only pick up stitches into the back loops (bumps) of the chain

– when unzipping the chain, pick up one stitch at a time

So, what are you still doing here? Go, find a project to try out a new skill – like these cute hats from Wooly Wormhead for example. Patterns for these two and more available in store.

– Mona

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