The Simple or Half Hitch Cast On

Probably the easiest cast on is the method called the simple or half hitch cast on. It produces a row of loose stitches and works up so quickly that it’s my preferred method for swatches and other obscenities. If you know the long-tail cast on, the half hitch is the first part of that, and no long tail is needed.

Here’s how it’s done:

Note: these instructions assume you’re right-handed.

1. Tie a slip knot around the needle, and hold the needle in your right hand. For this cast on, there is only one needle, and it is always in your right hand.
2. Position your left hand as if you were holding a glass of water. The thumb and index finger form an open circle, and the side of your hand (your pinky) is what would rest on the table if one were in front of you.
3. Lay the yarn over your thumb and index finger. The ball end goes over your index finger. The tail goes over your thumb. The needle is pointing left and resting on the side of your hand, roughly where the thumb and index finger meet.
4. Curl the middle, ring, and pinky fingers of your left hand into the palm, tucking the two hanging strands of yarn into them. When you do, the yarn in your left hand forms a down-pointing triangle. There’s a horizontal line between your thumb and index finger, a diagonal line from index to middle finger, and another diagonal line from thumb to middle finger. The needle is on top of the horizontal line, resting both on the yarn and on the side of your left hand. Use the curled fingers to put a little tension on the yarn as you work the remaining steps.
5. Rotate the needle so that it is pointing at you. It passes over the horizontal line, so the triangle is still fairly in tact.
6. Bring the tip of the needle down, stopping when it touches the fleshy part of your palm at the base of your thumb. The needle is between you and the yarn.
7. Slide the tip of the needle up your thumb, stopping when the tip of the needle is on the tip of your thumb. The needle tip has slid behind the leg of the triangle that goes from thumb to middle finger. By the time the tip of the needle reaches the tip of the thumb, it is inside a loop that surrounds the thumb.
8. Pull your thumb out of the loop, and in the same movement, use your thumb to catch and tug on the yarn that is between the needle and your middle finger. The gesture is like opening a pair of scissors to cut. This tug tightens the loop on the needle.
9. Move the needle back to the starting position, on top of the horizontal line of the inverted triangle, and repeat Steps 5 to 8.
10. Knit across the cast-on stitches.

Step 10 is important. The cast-on stitches themselves are so loose that they don’t really keep their shape when you divide them over several needles or even drop them in a bag to return to later, so working the first row, preferably with knit stitches firms them up.

I often use this cast on when I need to add stitches to the middle or end of a row because the point where the cast on meets the rest of the work is tidier than with other methods.

Another plus is that this cast on can easily become a provisional cast on (a topic to be covered in detail later). In a nutshell, after Step 9, you would run a second needle between the stitches that have been cast on and leave it there until it’s time to knit from that needle.

With this cast on in your bag of tricks, you have a simple and serviceable method for starting ordinary work and a secret weapon for doing more complex knitting.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Picot Cast on « Working out Kinks and Fingering Yarn

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