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Olga Buraya-Kefelian uses one of my all-time favorite techniques in her designs for Field Guide 24: Spark—the very handy and powerful crochet cast-on. You’ll find a description of the techniques on page 9 and 29 of the Field Guide.

I love this technique for a few reasons:

  • it creates a beautiful edge that looks just like a standard bind off
  • because it doesn’t use a long tail, it doesn’t require having to calculate or guess the length of tail (which is a huge pain in the butt if you have to cast on a lot of stitches!)
  • it can be used for casting on with the working yarn, and it also works as a provisional cast-on that can be easily undone later

Olga uses it both ways in Field Guide No. 24: as a standard cast-on, and for a provisional edge.

I promise, you don’t need to be an expert crocheter to master it. Let’s practice!


  • a crochet hook in a size close-ish to the one you will be knitting with. Don’t fuss too much about this, it doesn’t have to be exactly the same!
  • one knitting needle
  • your working yarn
  • if using it as a provisional cast on, some smooth scrap yarn in a similar weight but a contrasting color

The Method

Setup Step 1: Leaving about a 4-inch tail, make a slip knot and place it on your crochet hook.

Setup Step 2: Hold the crochet hook, the yarn tail, and the knitting needle side-by-side in your right hand—crochet hook on the right, knitting needle on the left, making sure that the yarn is hanging down from the crochet hook. Grab the yarn with your left hand, bringing it under the knitting needle. If you knit continental-style, or already know how to crochet, use your standard hold for the yarn. If you don’t crochet, imitate what you see in these pictures and with practice you will find the hold that works for you.

Setup Step 3: Transfer the knitting needle to your left hand.

Making Stitches, Step 1: Take the crochet hook over the knitting needle and use it to grab the yarn, or, use your left hand to wrap the yarn around the hook. For those who aren’t crocheters, take note the yarn and hook position in this image: the hook should be to the left of the yarn, the yarn on the right. This might feel like the opposite of how you wrap it for knitting – that’s ok! 

Pull the yarn through the loop that’s on the hook. If you need to use your hand to hold that loop still, do it.

One stitch made!

Making Stitches, Step 2: Take the yarn back under the knitting needle.

And repeat! 

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until you have one less stitch than you need. That is, if you’re told to cast on 200, stop when you have 199 on the knitting needle. 

Then place the stitch that’s on the crochet hook on your knitting needle. 

Variation: Crochet Cast-on As a Provisional Method

If you need to undo the edge later, so you can knit from the opposite direction, then the crochet cast-on method can be used to create an easily-undone edge. Just use a length of waste yarn instead.

In this case, you need to cast on the full required stitch count: if you need 100 provisional stitches, repeat the steps above until you have all 100. Then, after the last stitch is made, make a short chain, 4 or 5 stitches, with your crochet hook. 

Then cut the yarn and pull it through the final loop to secure it.

Join your working yarn and start your project. 

When the time comes to undo, snip the end of the crochet chain, and you can easily unravel from there. Go slow, and as each loop of stitch is revealed, catch it with your knitting needle. Magic!

Happy Spark-ly knitting!

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About The Author

Kate Atherley is a teacher, designer, author and technical editor. She’s also the publisher of Digits & Threads, a magazine all about Canadian fibre and textile arts.


  • I love this cast on and have used it many times. It makes a smooth edge that is nice on a baby blanket and is stretchy enough for a hat. What more could you ask of a cast on?

  • Wow! Just tried it. Way better than the provisional cast on I learned where you pick up stitches through the back after making a long crochet chain. Thanks!

    • agreed! the previous crochet cast on I knew was much fussier. Maybe this should be named ‘way better crochet cast on’ !!!

  • I have used this cast on in the past, but always have to look it up. If like to save it, but my “save” button is gone, and the link to “how to save” isn’t working either. Help!

    • Try signing in to your account again to save the article

    • Yes, I always forget, too. You have to go up to the top menu and login to your account. Then this post shows up just to your right, so you can click on it and get back to the article. Once you’re back to Crochet Cast-on, the top icons just under the title will now include a little flag. Click! Saved.
      Thanks for this lesson. I now need to pracrice it until I get it right, because as the previous commenter said, so much easier than the bump pickup on a crochet chain!

  • Mind Blown.

  • I will be teaching the knitting portion of a kid’s knit and crochet camp in July. This will be perfect.

    Something different about saving articles with the new and improved website…the banner no longer turns red.

    Thanks Kate, can’t wait to try this.

  • This is one of my favorite cast-on methods! It’s perfect for scarves and blankets because it makes the cast-on edge exactly the same width as the body, it’s stretchy, and it matches the bind-off at the other end. It’s my go-to provisional cast-on as well, but you have to remember to work the first row (with the working yarn) even—no yarnovers, cables, increases, or decreases—otherwise pulling out the waste yarn and getting the stitches onto the needle is a nightmare. Been there, done that 😉

    • Yes, exactly. To complete the provisional cast on, knit one row with the working yarn. If your pattern begins with ribbing and you don’t knit one row first, the purled stitches won’t come undone later when you want them to. Ask me how I know!

    • Thanks! I have wondered why sometimes my provisional cast on comes out smoothly and sometimes it doesn’t!

  • I have no idea why it never occurred to me to use this other than provisionally. ‍♀️ Thanks!

  • As a left-handed non-crocheter, I’ve always felt my stitches weren’t very even and tidy when using this method for casting on, but I do like to use it as a provisional cast on except I hold the crochet hook in my left hand. Good explanation Kate!

  • This is my favorite method for casting on provisionally, but I never think to use is as a regular cast-on edge.

  • Kate, One question: you say cast on one less stitch than called for. What about that one last stitch?

    • For the last stitch, put the stitch that’s on the crochet hook onto the knitting needle. Kate says this, but you must have missed it; it’s right before the section about the provisional cast on.

      • Duh! Thanks Carla.

  • Kate Atherley is such a wonderful and precise teacher! No longer seeing her posts in the only thing I miss about being Twitter. So pleased to see Kate here – thank you!

  • I can’t wait to learn this! My next project needs 100 stitches as a provisional cast on. I will be using this for sure. Thank you!

  • It also hadn’t occurred to me to use this method for a standard cast on. I’ve used it for a provisional and love it, so I’ll have to try it with the working yarn for a large number of stitches instead of using another piece of yarn (sometimes known as the “shotgun” method). Kate’s method will eliminate the extra end to weave in.

  • What’s a provisional cast on?

  • This has been my standard cast-on since I learned it 10 years ago. I absolutely love the stretchiness and the neatness of the crochet cast-on. Thank you, Kate!

  • Can this be reversed a bit for a left handed crocheter?

  • I have used this for provisional for years. I have no clue why I never considered using it as a cast on that wasn’t provisional.

  • I’ve used crochet cast for provisional cast on for a long time. It’s great for double brim hats. It never occurred to me to use as a regular cast on method. Thanks Kate, for a great instruction!

  • Thanks for this new (to me) cast on method. It looks great!

  • What? I can use this method as a regular cast-on? I’ve only used this method for provisional cast-on. I’m definitely going to use this a regular cast-on. Tx Kate!

  • I used this on my current project as a provisional c/o for a tubular c/o. When I went to unzip it, I had to unpick it. This happens to me about half the time. I review it before starting, yup, got it, then maybe, maybe not – it’s a mystery! As a regular c/o this wouldn’t be a factor and the tail guessing would not be missed.

  • I will definitely try this cast on; after decades of using the same method for casting on, I have found a couple I really like. One question: when it is used as a provisional co, do you remove it starting at the beginning of the row or the end?

    • End of the row of crochet stitches. Cut into that short chain or undo the pull-through that fastened it.

      • Thank you!

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