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Emily Explains: Provisional Cast On

Have you been wanting to learn a provisional cast on? Today, I’m going to explain my preferred method. Truthfully, it’s the only method I know, but I still think it’s pretty great!

A provisional cast on uses waste yarn – slippery and brightly colored is best – that is later removed to reveal live stitches. These stitches can then be placed on a needle and used to do whatever you want…knit in the opposite direction, add a ribbing or nice finish, kitchener together with the other end of your knitting, to name a few. It’s especially useful when you aren’t sure what kind of edging you want or how long to make a piece.

Before you start, you’ll want to grab some yarn, needles and a crochet hook. I like to use a hook that’s large enough to make a loose chain. I also typically add a few more chains than number of stitches called for in the cast on. Follow along with video to see how it’s done!

Here are some projects that a provisional cast on could be useful for…

Kurama: use a provisional cast on and graft the beginning and end instead so you don’t have a seam.


Merle: use a provisional cast on to start the collar for an easy way to knit in both directions


Blish: provisional is the perfect cast on if you want to wait and decide on the length or style neckline for this top-down knit


Do you know a different way to do a provisional cast on? Feel free to share in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “Emily Explains: Provisional Cast On

  1. I Have started knitting HARBOUR, no.342-2. The numbers are not working out for me.I am doing a size medium, cast on 112 stitches. Directions say to work pattern over 45 stitiches. . There are 21 stitiches in the pattern. Repeated 2 times makes 42 stitches which leaves 3 stitiches left from the 45 instructed to knit in the pattern. I am following the instructions for working the pattern, beginning at A, working to C repeating between B and C then continuing to D. AmI reading something wrong here? (The pdf pattern just downloaded was dated 2013)

    1. Thank you for writing in! I am sorry you are having trouble with Harbour. I have forwarded your question to pattern support. For any future pattern questions please feel free to contact us at

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