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How to Cast On: Beginner Knitting Tutorial With Photos

Stacie enjoys writing about the things that interest her most: reading, writing, food, wine, knitting, and living a healthy lifestyle.

Every knitting project begins with a row of foundation stitches.

Every knitting project begins with a row of foundation stitches.

Casting On in Knitting

I have taught many people how to knit, and I have found that casting on is always the hardest part for beginners to catch on to. This might be because we usually only need to cast on at the beginning of a project, so knitters don't spend a lot of time casting on. But practice makes perfect, so feel free to practice casting on for a while before moving on to knitting stitches.

Every knitting project begins with a row of foundation stitches. You make a foundation row by casting on. There are as many different ways of casting on as there are knitters, but I'm going to outline the easiest method I've found for beginners here.


Step One

Make a slip knot on one needle. (Need to learn how to make a slip knot? Check out the video below). This will be considered your first stitch.


Step Two

Hold the needle with the knot in your left hand. Your thumb and index finger should be placed close to the point of the needle. This will help you control the needle.


Step Three

Your right hand will mostly be used to control the yarn coming for the skein. You will also hold the other knitting needle in your right hand. Again, place your fingers close to the point.


Step Four

Insert the point of the right needles, from front to back, into the slip knot. the right needle will rest under the left needle.


Step Five

Hold the left needle in your left hand as you move your left fingers over to hold the right needle. Use your right index finger to pick up the yarn from the skein, bringing the yarn under and over the point of the right needle (from left to right).


Step Six

Return your right fingers to the right needle. Draw the yarn through the existing stitch with the point of your right needle.


Step Seven

Slide the left needle into the new stitch by making the needles parallel to each other.


Step Eight

Remove the right needle from the stitch. Pull the skein yarn gently, so the stitch is snug on the needle. You have now made a stitch. You should have two stitches on the left needle.


Step Nine

Insert the point of the right needle, from front to back, into the stitch you have just made, and under the left needle.


Repeat steps five through nine for the next stitch. Continue until you have as many stitches cast on as your pattern calls for.

Practicing? It is easy to destroy the cast-on stitches. Simply pull the needle out of the stitches. Wind the used yarn back onto the skein.

Tip: Beginners tend to knit very tightly, but this makes it difficult to slide the stitches on the needle. Try to relax, keeping the stitches loose.


Ready to Make an Easy Scarf?

  • How to Knit a Scarf: An Illustrated, Step-by-Step Guide
    This step-by-step beginner's guide teaches you how to knit a homemade scarf. It includes directions for knit and purl stitches, two easy scarf patterns, a knitting terminology glossary, and valuable links to related sites.


Michele Kelsey from Edmond, Oklahoma on August 02, 2013:

You did a great job at showing a difficult thing to do on your own. When you don't have someone showing you how to cast on, it can be quite challenging. You did an excellent job at showing how to cast on by yourself. Great hub! I hope us knitters can join forces! :) Michele

Nicole S Hanson from Minnesota on October 30, 2012:

Knitting is tougher to learn than I thought, thanks for the tips!

leanne on March 29, 2012:

i sort of got the instructions but you lost me with the pictures.

*sob* on October 21, 2011:

Ok, question. Where in the yarn am I supposed to start? In the middle,on the end. Do I need to hook with one and use the other for...knitting?

sara smith on June 29, 2011:

i was so confused, probibly just a leftie thing though

taylor on May 01, 2011:

this is too hard i cant understand the pictures or words

beginner on February 19, 2011:

Its kinda CONFUSING to me... I am young and am looking at this with my mom... Can you make one for kids??? I really need help and it is kinda hard to learn. Please reply. Thank you!

Alyssa on February 19, 2011:

Im just a teenager and im learning how to knit with a friend

? on December 11, 2010:

this is confusing

Blank on July 11, 2010:

i can not see the dim pictures and the directions were complicated. i had a lot of trouble figuring it out.

blank on April 11, 2010:

the video is confusing i still don't know how to ,make a stitch knot

jass on March 05, 2010:

it was ok

E L Danvers from Ventura, CA on October 27, 2009:

Awesome step-by-step instructions, WITH pictures! Great work!

Madeleine on October 10, 2009:

Ihave tried many websites to learn how to knit but im sure you have helped me the the most. Thank you!

Isabella on July 17, 2009:

The instructions are to complicated. I almost exploded because it just made knitting more hard. I know how to knitt but I never can remember how to cast on. I have tried videos but the person who is speaking was talking to fast and I was not able to comprehend what she was saying.

willow on November 25, 2008:

does anyone have a pattern for grateful dead bears or a steal your face 13 point lightning bolt.. i'm trying to make deadhead gifts?

much appreciation!

wltrallen2 from San Diego, CA on November 10, 2008:

Thanks for the hub. I actually learned a one-needle method for casting on. Someone had mentioned this two-needle method to me when my theatre company was doing Cats (and we were knitting legwarmers like crazy). I didn't have time to learn this method then. I'm hoping that I can take the time now. :)

MasonsMom from U.S.A. on February 16, 2008:

I'm looking forward to trying this soon...

MM Del Rosario from NSW, Australia on January 19, 2008:

I could never learn to knit, my daughter is starting to learn, i told her she could teach me...but with this hub, i might have to get my own knitting needle and learn by myself.

Regards MM

AuraGem from Victoria, Australia on January 18, 2008:

I am an avid knitter! Love creating my own designs! But it is great to see someone's else' methods! For all I know, some of my methods may just be bad habits developed over time! At one stage, I did have to change my style of knitting because I developed severe RSI. So I was forced to stop clutching the needles as if I was permanently desperate.

Great hub!

Smiles and Light

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 18, 2008:

How wonderful are the illustrations - much better than the book I had as a kid!

Stacie Naczelnik (author) from Seattle on January 18, 2008:

Isabella, I meant to caption the pictures, but forgot--I'll fix that. Stay tuned.

Isabella Snow on January 18, 2008:

Ok. Video was great. (And you sound exactly like I imagined you would!) But I got lost in the pics, my brain just doesn't work that way. Im sure it will work for everyone else cos most people can follow basic instructions. Not me, however. So. Please make a video of whatever that is?!! I'll send you a granny square. :)

Ricardo Nunes from Portugal on January 18, 2008:

Very well done!

My mate loves to knitting in her spare times and she make all sorts of clothes like that.

I´ve to agree with Lissie, this hub deserves to have brothers ;-)

Elisabeth Sowerbutts from New Zealand on January 18, 2008:

I'm expecting a whole series of hubs developing from this one!