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As is often the case here in Patty’s mailbox land, knitting questions seem to travel in packs. Last month’s Ask Patty covered how to get a painless, twist-free long-tail tubular cast-on, and this month a brand-new tubular question sends me back to the swatching drawing board. 

Totally (stockinette) tubular.

Dear Patty,

I used the tubular cast-on for the last two sweaters I knit for myself and I really like the method. Can the cast-on be done in stockinette? I’m not really a fan of ribbing at the bottom of my sweaters and would rather have a hem.

Love your teaching style and all the “whys.”  It really helps me learn something new if I understand why as well as how.

Thank you,

Dear Kathy,

Hmmm. That’s a good one. Of course, I could suggest a folded hem, where you cast on the total number of stitches needed, knit a few rows, fold it, and either seam it later or work each stitch together with the cast on loop. But that’s not what you asked. You want a true tubular cast-on that could go into stockinette.

That’s a tricky request. To get that rounded edge, you are in fact working a double-thick fabric for a few rows before you get into rib. This looks fine since the ribbing itself is a thicker fabric. (See the why here.) But stockinette is a much flatter fabric. But since “no” would not make for a very satisfying column, I thought I’d give it a shot.

There are several ways to get to the tubular cast-on. I tried working off of scrap yarn and, off the Italian cast-on (from last month), and neither looked great. Then I said to myself “Self, what about Judy’s Magic Cast-on? Can we trick it?”

It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty nice. Here’s a picture of the finished product:

You can see it has the rounded edge at the bottom, and then sort of oozes into stockinette.

Here’s the trick in a nutshell:

1) Start by casting on half the total number of stitches needed on each needle using Judy’s Magic Cast-on (and if you’re not familiar with Judy’s Magic Cast-on, I demonstrate it in the video below). If you needed 50 stitches, you’d have 25 on each needle.

2) Knit one full row on each needle. This is usually when you fold the cast-on edge and, using a separate needle, take one knit from the front, a purl from the back, etc., and get into your rib. But here’s the cheat …

3) Turn the top needle around so the wrong side (purl bumps) are facing you, and knit one row.

4) Turn your work so the single row of purl is facing you. 

Tuck your bottom needle in and fold your work so the two needles are next to each other. Notice that you have purls facing you from both needles:

5) With a separate project needle, you will slip one stitch from the front needle and one stitch from the back needle. 

All your stitches are now sitting on your project needle with the working yarn to the right.

6) Slide your work to the other side of the needle. Work across the row by purling a stitch and slipping a stitch with yarn in front. 

And you’re done, from there you’ll go into your stockinette.

Yes, of course there’s a video. Have you just met me?

Is it real? Is an Impossible Burger a burger? I don’t know. But give them both a try and see what you think.

Patty in your pocket!

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About The Author

Patty Lyons is a nationally recognized knitting teacher and technique expert. In her pursuit of training the mindful knitter, Patty is known for teaching the “why” in addition to the “how.” She specializes in sweater design and sharing her love of the much-maligned subjects of gauge and blocking.

You can find Patty at her website and on Ravelry.

Do you have a problem you’d like Patty to tackle? Write to her at



  • Brilliant!

  • A really concise clear explanation and video. Thank you Patty, you are the best.

  • Genius. I really love the way that looks.

  • Fantastic! Thanks.

  • Yes, genius! You are just amazing

  • Thank you for this timely and brilliant tip! I was searching for a tutorial for a tubular stockinette cast-on just a few days ago. I tried to fake it as you do with a 2×2 tubular, thinking I could work the set-up rows 1×1 and then switch to all knit, but after 2 attempts (and 327 stitches each), it still didn’t look right. I gave up and did a double-chain cast on. I will definitely try this trick for the sleeves!

  • OMG you did it again! I’m just amazed how your mind works. I’m a huge fan of tubular cast ons and bind offs for socks, sweaters, hats, etc. I can’t wait to get your tips and tricks book. You are simply a knitting genius. Thank you, Patty, for all you do…

  • Why did you slip a stitch I stead of working each one?

    • Trial and error. It looks better slipping the stitches that are in the back. Knitting them made it a bit puckered. But when in doubt, cast on and try it and see what you like!

  • What’s also really cool about this is that the slightly heavier edge could possibly work to prevent curling.

    • Hi P. Joan, I just tried it on a largish swatch (8″ x 8″) using leftover aran weight wool. Patty’s method did give a bit more weight to the hem edge. It didn’t curl. Very cool!

  • What about an I-cord cast on. Makes a very nice tube.

  • If you have the opportunity to attend, Lorilee Beltman teaches a variety of ways JMCO (aka “Magic Cast On”) can be used for hems including tubular, 2-color, garter and stockinette. The only difference from Patty’s stockinette version is she doesn’t slip that first stitch. Knitters choice. Thanks for the reminder of this versatile technique, Patty!

    • I have taken that class, and she teaches the wonderful Judy’s for a traditional tubular cast on (for rib) as well as some great turned folded hems. From what I saw in the video, this is a totally differnt cast on. A kind of tricked tubular to make all stockinette. A folded hem is really pretty too.

  • You are such a clever woman Patty!

  • wow, this is a really nice eye opener. Thank you for explaining it so well. Do these things with the little booklet of Cast on, but this is just awesome.

  • There is nothing that Patty can’t do! You are a rock star Patty!

  • This is really great. I was wondering whether using a smaller gauge needle for the first rows would help to make those bottom stitches smaller, thus more closely matching the stockinette fabric.

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