Friday, January 11, 2008

Provisional tail method of 1 x 1 tubular cast on

includes 8 illustrations
click any illustration to enlarge

There are several versions and variations of 1x1 tubular cast on. A popular method is Italian tubular cast on, and that is done over a knitting needle. Another method is like a long tail cast on, and here is an excellent link, with a video. Yet a third method is involves a provisional casting on, then picking up the loop tails, and here is a link to that (scroll to last method).

And yet: even with all this expert, well-thought-out instruction available, and with all these lovely methods and videos, I still (stubbornly, perhaps) prefer my own method best, a method I will call the "provisional tail" tubular cast on (to distinguish it from the "provisional" method of the last link, above).

I find this method fast, easy to make and easy to withdraw the tail from. Like all tubular casting on, this method creates a springy edge--as springy as if an elastic were inserted--and has a pleasant-feeling rounded edge which stands up well to wear and looks well.

Provisional tail tubular cast on is done in THREE PHASES:
  • The first phase consists of the cast on.
  • The second phase consists of four foundation rows: two on the front and two on the back.
  • The third phase consists of the true 1x1 ribbing.

1. (below) The first step is to knot together the casting-on yarn (the yarn for the garment, blue in the illustration) with a piece of yarn of a contrasting color--the provisional tail yarn (green in the illustration) You should be able to recover the provisional tail yarn, so you can take any ball from your stash--but choose a thin yarn, a sock yarn if possible.

Arrange the yarn on your hands as shown. Your right hand tensions the knotted-together yarn ends AND operates the needle, your left hand anchors the other end of both yarns, keeping them spread apart. (This will conceivably be easier for continental knitters than for English-style.)

The hand set-up is very reminiscent of long tail casting-on, but the action is different. Specifically, with the needle in your right hand, reach the needle's tip UNDER the provisional tail yarn (green) and OVER the garment yarn (blue). This will hook a loop of blue over the needle. Withdraw the needle with the blue loop on it by moving the tip of the needle once again UNDER the contrast yarn. The complete path of the needle is shown by the red arrow. (To see greater detail, click any illustration, and each will enlarge to a close-up.)
2. (below) The result step 1, above, should be a single loop of blue yarn on the right needle, anchored in place by the green provisional tail, as shown below.

To make the next blue loop, simply hook the needle tip UNDER the blue yarn, following the path shown by the red arrow.
3. (below) Repeating steps 1 and 2 will result in blue loops over your needle, alternating as "front side" loops and "back side" loops. In other words, there will be a loop which has both tails stands IN FRONT of the green provisional tail, followed by a loop with has both tail strands BEHIND the green provisional tail. In the illustration below, the first stitch visible at the right is a "front side" loop, the second, a "back side" loop, and so on, alternating.

As you can see, it is necessary to end with a front side loop, as back side loops (the result of step 2, above) are not anchored.
At the end of the first three steps (above) you have completed phase 1. In other words, you have competed the cast on phase. We turn now to the second phase, the four foundation rows.

4. (below) When you turn the work around after the cast on, you begin the first of four foundation rows. As you can see, the first stitch on your right needle will be a back side loop (ie: the reverse of the front side loop with which you ended in step 3). It would be my advice to keep this stitch as a selvedge stitch, the foundation for a side seam of chained selvedge stitches. Whatever edge treatment you choose, however, it will be necessary to knit this first loop, in order to anchor it onto your needle. Specifically, to work the foundation row, transfer the needle loaded with loops to your left hand, take an empty needle in your right hand, and knit the first stitch, following the path of the red arrow, as shown. The illustration shows continental knitting with its left-handed yarn feed, but if you are knitting English style (throwing) the action of the right hand and the path of the needle is identical--the only difference is that the yarn would feed off the other hand.
5. (below) a. Knitting the edge stitch will anchor the first loop on your right needle, as shown in illustration 5.

b. Once this selvedge stitch is knit, you will begin to establish a pattern, the first step of which is to knit the front side loops--the "knit" looking loops. To knit, follow the path shown by the red arrow.

I see from the comments that there is a certain lack of communication with steps 5 and 6.  In step 5, as illustrated below, the knit-looking stitch is knit as ALL knits are knit, that is, with the yarn held in the BACK--that is the blue yarn with the arrow hooked around it.

6. (below) The second step in the pattern is to SLIP the "purls," the back-side loops. Illustration 6, below, shows that the back side loop is simply being transferred from the left needle to the right needle, while the working yarn is brought to the front, and then held out of the way of the fabric--in the illustration, the yarn is being held below the fabric--the point being that the "purls" are to be slipped, without involving the running yarn in the process. In the transfer, the tip of the right needle inserts PURLWISE into the loop to be slipped, which keeps the transferred back-side loop "open" (untwisted).

Again, the comments show that steps 5 and 6 are, perhaps, not well communicated.  Here's the thing: AFTER you knit the knit-looking stitch (as shown in step 5), you bring the yarn to the FRONT and THEN hold it out of the way while you slip the purl-looking stitch to the right needle.  When you let go of the yarn (in other words, after you have slipped the stitch and you're done holding it out of the way) the yarn remains on the front, yes.  After step 6, however, you go back and repeat step 5, which, if you'll recall, is a knit sort of stitch.  But, you can't knit with the yarn in front of the fabric, so you FIRST have to SWITCH the yarn to the BACK OF THE FABRIC before you can do step 5.  As stated, step 5 is then again followed by step 6, so you'd once again switch the yarn forward to perform step 6, then switch back again for step 5, then switch forward again for 6, and so on to the end of the row.  If this addendum still doesn't clear things up, someone write to me again in the comments, OK?  Thanks!

7. Continue knitting the front-side loops, and slipping the back-side loops until you get to the end of the row. This completes the first foundation row.

8. For the second foundation row, turn the work. Repeat steps 5 and 6. In other words, turn the work as you did in step 4, then knit the front-side loops (which are actually the loops you slipped in the first foundation row) and slip the back-side loops (which are actually the stitches you knit in the first foundation row).

9. When you get to the end of the second foundation row, turn the work. You have now established a pattern where the columns growing out of the front side loops are to be knit, while the columns growing out of the back side loops are to be slipped. Repeat this pattern for an additional two rows, alternating knits and slips. You should have now worked a total of 5 rows: ONE cast on row, TWO rows of knitting the front side loops and slipping the back-side loops, and TWO rows of knitting the stitches in the columns growing out of the front-side loops, and slipping the stitches in the columns growing out of the back-side loops.

10. This step is easy! You now knit the knits and PURL the purls (no more slipping.) Continue until the band is as wide as you want.

11: The last step is to remove the provisional take. Specifically, After you've gone worked a few rows of the 1x1 ribbing, undo the knot holding the provisional tail onto the garment yarn, and pull out the provisional tail.

In the illustration at right, the provisional tail is the maroon yarn. The 3-picture sequence shows the tail in, the tail half drawn out, and the tail all the way out.

We'll end with a little ...

Q & A

Q 1: What is all the slipping about? Why not just purl the back-side loops, instead of slipping them?
A: The photo below shows the very edge of the tubular cast on: white stitches are cast on over a maroon tail. As you can see, what you have actually done is cast on in the middle of a fabric. In other words, the cast-on is a series of stockinette stitches which lay across the provisional tail, and the loops on either side of the provisional tail are actually the "heads" (front-side loops) and "tails" (back-side loops), of those stitches.
When you slip the back loops, you are skipping the tails, and knitting into the heads only. When you turn and work back, you are skipping the heads, and knitting into the tails only. By knitting and slipping, then slipping and knitting, you are knitting the fabric out from the middle (In technical terms, you are creating two rows of "double-knitting.") This fabric is half as wide on each face as single knitting, and twice as thick. Now stockinette is very stretchy, and, this proportion: 1/2 the number of total stitches along a thick edge, widening out to a single thickness fabric after several rows luckily turns out to be the correct proportion for lovely stretchy edge. If you were to purl right away, you would not have an nice, thick edge to stretch, you would have an thin, but wider edge, which would tend to flare and ruffle.

Q 2: Why is this called "tubular" cast on?
A: By casting on in the middle of the fabric, you are actually knitting outwards in both directions from the middle. When you begin the true ribbing--the k 1, p 1 ribbing, you are uniting the two sides of the fabric, with the little scrap of knitting between the two sides thus folded into a mini-tube. (The tube is the part where the provisional tail lies, and when you pull out that tail, you are sliding the tail out of the tube.)

Q 3: Are there any tricks to this to improve the tubular cast on further?
A: YES! As stated in the directions, you ought to cast on over a thin yarn, but in addition, you ought to cast on over a SMALL NEEDLE. I use a needle 3 sizes smaller than the size in which I will knit the garment. I switch to a needle 2 sizes larger after I have knit all four foundation rows--in other words, on the first true row of knit 1, p1 ribbing. By starting with a very small needle, I get a really springy cast-on which draws in as well as if an elastic had been inserted.

Q 4: Why are the directions for back-and-forth knitting? Why no directions for circular knitting?
A: Casting this on by this method on a circular needle will lead to a twisted mess where the cast-on slides over onto the cable. I find it best to make the cast-on and four foundation rows over a straight needle (or the straight portion of a circular needle) and then switch to a knitting in the round. At the end, I use the hanging tail to sew up the little gap at the bottom. (BTW: it is easy to hide the tail after sewing--just run it into the tube at the edge of the ribbing!)

If you are a purist determined to try tubular cast-on in the round, consider casting on over double pointed needles rather than circular needles. When you join, the first foundation round is the same as the first foundation row (steps 5 b and 6) : knit the front-side loops and slip the back-side loops. However, the second round differs. On the second round, you must PURL the previously slipped stitches, while slipping the previously KNIT stitches. Repeat these two rounds once more for a total of four foundation rounds.

Q 5: Does this work for socks?
A: Socks are a subset of the circular knitting referred to in question 4. It makes a lovely edge but it is a little fiddly to get the sock cuff started. Therefore, if I want to make socks by this method, I work the cast on and the first four foundation rows back and forth, then start the circular knitting with the first round of true k1, p1 ribbing.

Q 6: Last question: this post started with three different methods of tubular cast on: Italian, long-tail, and provisional and you have described a fourth method in this post--provisional tail. Why are there so many ways to create tubular casting on?
A: Actually, all four methods create more or less the same final result. I prefer the provisional tail method detailed here because it goes faster than some; because it is more elastic than some; because experience has shown me that 4 foundation rows are just about right, and these foundation rows are easy to work (and count!) by this method; and because the provisional tail is in a contrasting yarn, making it easier to find and pull out. (However, truthfully: having tried them all, all these methods for tubular cast on make a pretty good edge. Probably the most important reason of all that I prefer this method is because it is what I am used to! And did I mention? It is fast.)

* * *
This is part 8 of a series. The other parts of this series are:

How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 1: Opera and Soap Opera (November 1, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 2: Why cuffs and bands are wonky, and what to do about it (November 14, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 3: Hems and facings:(November 22, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 4: Knitting shut hems and facings (December 9, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 5: Sewing shut hems and facings (December 23, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 6: Your steam iron: a mighty weapon in the fight against curling and flipping (December 25, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 7: Zig-zag bands (December 29, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 9: Tubular cast off for 1x1 ribbing (it's pretty) (January 15, 2008)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs: the wrap-up (January 23, 2008)

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: "Tubular cast on for 1/1 ribbing")


Anonymous said...

How incredibly generous you are with your knowledge and time.

This is the best resource for serious knitters.

Thank you.

Heather Madrone said...

Very interesting technique. I'll have to try it.

I've used this cast-on for many years (Barbara Walker calls it "invisible cast-on"). In recent years, I've been substituting a circular needle for the waste yarn. Instead of tying waste yarn to the main yarn, I put an e-loop on the needle with the main yarn (the e-loop will be discarded later), cross the circular needle over the main yarn to the back of the work, and then cast on with the circular needle cable over my thumb.
Cross the circular needle back over the main yarn at the end of the row, put in another e-loop if you feel the need to secure the main yarn, and proceed. The e-loops can be slipped for a row or just discarded.

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Heather Madrone: It IS the same as the "invisible cast on," but in this application, you immediately start knitting on BOTH sides, instead of knitting all on one side, pulling out the provisional tail at the end and THEN knitting the live loops. It is also the same technique as the "disappearing loop method" for casting on from the center--TECHknitting of February 15, 2007.

As far as your technique of casting this on over a circular needle cable: that's a great idea.

Thanks for writing.


Pamelamama said...


gayle said...

Thank you for this tutorial! I was just preparing to cast on a sock, so this was very timely advice. I've been using another version of the tubular cast-on, but it's quite a lot fiddlier than this one.
I'd been knitting for close to 40 years before I even saw ANY version of tubular cast-on - and what a forehead-slapping moment THAT was! "Why wasn't I told about this?!?"
So thank you very much! I'm always impressed by the clarity of your tutorials.

Anja said...

I just love your intructions! Every other post is a revelation, and then the next is a confirmation that I'm not completely clueless, the blind follower of conventional magazine patterns.
This method is my favorite, too, and I use a 2 mm circular for "waste yarn": with two yarns I was sometimes confused which was which. Plus the stable cable makes the moves easier, yet it wont be in the way when I start knitting.

carioca said...

Wow. I can tell you that I've been reading knitting books for years and producing nothing more than the occasional clumsy scarf. I hate my ugly cast-ons and even more, my ugly cast offs... THIS, though... THIS technique is the one that makes knitting attractive enough to actually PRACTICE... thank you so much!

carioca said...

Which, by the way, means you must teach us to cast off in matching style... :)

Clair St. Michel said...

This is fantastic! Thank you. And I second cariocca - please teach the matching cast-off.

Camping Jason said...

I just started a hat with this cast on yesterday and I can't thank you enough for posting the technique. The edge looks so professional! It was a lot of work - it took me over an hour just to cast on 128 stitches - but it is SO worth it! Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Q's- If I do more rows of DK before true ribbing, will it be springier? I'm using 50% alpaca/50% wool for some baby pants and I'm having a hard time getting the right elasticized feel to the waist band, even when I do a twisted rib for a few inches and a graduated rib down the body.

2nd- to ensure a stretchy waist, could I use an elastic cord as the waste yarn and just leave it and join together? Children aren't gentle with clothing, they get really stretched out.

Carolyn said...

Is it correct (for this type of tubular cast on) that I should cast on 1/2 of the stitches that is called for on my pattern?

Gina said...

I have done the tubular cast-on in the round on circs and it is easy as pie and looks great.

Judi P said...

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the words that go with illustration 6 in the provisional tail tubular cast-on. The words say to hold the working yarn in front as you slip the stitch, but the only way I can get my yarn to look like the illustration is to hold it in back. Granted, I can't hold it down below the knitting with my left index finger the way the illustration shows, but if I use my finger like that, the working yarn comes in front of the provisional yarn, which is not what it looks like in the illustration.

Guessing that you're not going to get my question tonight, so I'll forge ahead. I'm further guessing that since your illustrations are so amazing, that the image is more likely to be correct than the words.

The crazy thing is, I used your method to cast on the bottom edge of my sweater (I'm now casting on for the first sleeve) and I didn't have this question! Trouble is, I have no idea which I did. I think I held it in back, because that's what you do in double knitting. At least, I think that's what I remember! Aaak! Maybe I'll have another beer and it will get easier!!?

In spite of being befuddled, I do love your method. The provisional tail comes out with a single, gentle tug. Other methods require hours of picking!

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Judi: Thank you for drawing attention to the inartful phrasing of the text which accompanied the sixth illustration. The text has been corrected, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention, that was kind. I am glad you like the method overall.

Thanks again,


Laurie said...

Could you take a look at Eunny Jang's tubular cast on video on Youtube? She describes casting on with half the final desired number of stitches with waste yarn, knitting several rows, then knitting with your main yarn (starting with a purl row). She notes purl bumps to pick up and knit. But I've gone through this over and over, and the number of purl bumps ends up being one short. Can you analyze this and tell me what I'm doing wrong? Many thanks!

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Laurie; You aren't doing anything wrong. The fact is, when you pick up and knit the purl bumps, you'll always have one fewer stitches than when you knit the knit stitches. For the reason that this is so, you can look at the TECHkntiting post of 12/07/08, provisional casting on, knitting up vs. knitting down. See, what you're doing with that method of cast on is knitting the knit stitches "up," and the purl stitches "down," and then joining them to make the tube. To solve the problem, you have to fudge a little, preferably on the purl side.

Thanks for writing--TK

Laurie said...

Thank you! I don't understand why I (always) need permission to fudge, but I understand what you are saying. And it helps to know that the purlside is the place to do it.

sajbat said...

hi! thanks for the awesome tutorial! One question--I've read the comments about holding the yarn in front vs. back, but I'm not sure I quite get it--when slipping the purls do you hold the yarn in front or back? Even if you let it hang loose, that is tantamount to holding it in back since that's where the yarn will be carried to the next stitch, no? Or am I missing something?

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Sajbat: The yarn will hang below the cast on if you leave it loose. As far as the "front" and the back" goes, you are correct that the yarn will go to the back with the NEXT stitch. The real point is to strand the yarn between the knit stitches, as you correctly suspect.


Kenny said...

Do you have a method for tubularly casting on for a 2x2 rib?

djaj said...

This is great and looks so easy !
Just one more questions : if I need to work in garter stich, is this cast-on appropriate ?
And one more question : compared to the final number of stiches needed, how many stiches should be casted on ?

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Djaj: In the tubular cast on, the very edge is a little scrap of stockinette. The next part is a little scrap of ribbing. The overall look is that the work starts with ribbing. If you like that look for a garter stitch garment, then it would be OK.

However, if you want a cast on edge which looks like garter stitch right from the beginning, then consider a ROLLED EDGE (TECHknitting post of November 14, 2007--scroll to the bottom) or the EASY-PEASY REVERSE STOCKINETTE EDGE (TECHknitting post of February 15, 2008).

Both the rolled edge and the easy-peasy have the reverse stockinette on the outside of the garment, and reverse stockinette looks very much like garter stitch. In other words, if you use either of these casts on, your garter stitch garment will look as if it were garter stitch right from the beginning.

Thanks for writing--TK

The Angle Family said...

Hi there, thanks for this great tutorial. The illustrations are especially helpful. Not to harp on about illustration 6, but if you would move the yarn to front before slipping the "purls", wouldn't the end result look like the neat end result shown in the photo? In contrast, I am stranding the yarn, and my work after 3 rows looks like seed stitch because of those strands. Am I missing something? I've been doing this over and over for a couple hours and I can't figure this out!

--TECHknitter said...

OK, so the thing is that you want the strands to be BETWEEN the knits and the purls.If you can see the strands, you're carrying the yarn in FRONT or in BACK of the stitches, rather than in the little tube that you're making--the tube is between the knits and the purls.

msHedgehog said...

I do love this. It took me a couple of attempts to work out how to join it neatly into the round, but I think I've cracked it. You have to cast on an odd number anyway, for the reasons you explained above. I realised that means that when I want to start ribbing I can arrange it on magic loop so that the two ends are both knits facing out towards me in the middle of a needle, with my yarn coming from the right. Then I can slip the first one, p1k1 all the way around to the final p, then knit two together across the gap. Looping the tail through the bottom stitch joined up the gap beautifully without the lumpiness of my first attempts.

lisa said...

Arrgh, I guess I am no tthe only one who is havin gproblems with this cast on. It looks beautiful when you do it, but I can't seem to get it right. I have had several false starts with a practice hat. I am having issues with steps 5 & 6. I knit the continental way. I get the knit, but when I slip the "purl," the working yarn can either be in front of (as if I was actually purling the stitch) or behind the loop, which creates a purl bump on the other side. I can't figure what else to do with the working yarn while slipping the purl stitch. I am completely confused by the picture, because there is no physical way I can "flow" the working yarn into the position you have in the illustration. What am I doing wrong? :(

Thank you SO much :)

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Lisa--I am at a loss why these pictures are confusing, but confusing they MUST be! Perhaps ignore the pictures and try to follow the written directions?

I assume from your comment that you have gotten as far as illustration 4, yes?

OK, If you look at your needle, you should see that some stitches look like they are "on the front" and some like they are "on the back," as shown in illustration 4. Now the thing to do is to KNIT the knit looking ones, and then to SLIP the ones on the back--the purl looking one-- to slip these without knitting, without purling, without twisting--just by transferring each from the left needle to the right needle as you come to it. So, it goes: Knit 1, slip 1, knit 1, slip 1, etc, all the way down the row.

Next, turn the work over. This time, you will KNIT the stitches on the front (the ones you slipped last time) and SLIP the stitches on the back (the ones you knit last time).

(A brief aside: The reason you aren't purling anything on row 1 or 2 is because a purl is the opposite of a knit, so when you flip the fabric, your knits are seen as purls.)

Anyhow, you now continue in this pattern, knitting a front-side knit, slip the following stitch, knit a front side stitch, slip the following stitch, and so on, all the way to the end of each row until you have worked a total of 5 rows: The cast one row, turn the work, one row of knit, slip, knit, turn the work, a second row of knit, slip, knit, turn the work, a third row of knit, slip, knit,turn the work, a fourth row of knit, slip, knit. Now you are ready to go on with phase 3 from the post.

Of course, depending on whether you have created an odd number of stitches or an even number of stitches, you might have to start off with a slip rather than a knit, but as long as you knit the front-laying stitches and slip the back-laying ones, you should be ok.

Write again if this doesn't help, OK?


Rose Fox said...

I love this technique (and your site in general) and use it often. Right now I'm trying to cast on for a project that starts with 2x2 rib instead of 1x1. Is there a similarly brilliant way to cast on for 2x2? I tried just doing the tubular cast-on but it really loses its elasticity at 2x2, and I would much rather not do 1x1 if I don't have to.

Rose Fox said...

Aha! Ignore that last comment about 2x2 rib; I have figured it out. As Ysolda does in the long tail cast-on video linked above, when addressing the first foundation row after casting on, swap the second and third stitches of every group of four: that is, knit 1, swap the next two stitches (as though you were cabling one over the other, and a cable needle may make this easier), knit 1, yarn forward, slip 2 purlwise, yarn back, repeat. Knit and purl the remaining foundation rows in 2x2 rib instead of 1x1. This makes for a really nice elastic edge.

I'm not sure why everyone is so opposed to doing this cast-on in the round. I do it all the time and it doesn't seem particularly hard. One note, however, to those who attempt this: if you want to see the knit side of the fabric rather than the purl side, you have to move the yarn in a counterintuitive fashion while knitting the foundation rows. It is very easy to think "k1, sl1" or "p1, sl1" but in fact it must be "k1, bring yarn to front, sl1, bring yarn to back" and "p1, bring yarn to back, sl1, bring yarn to front". This is a pain but the end result is much prettier and all the longer strands are hidden in the middle of the tube.

Laundress said...

Alas! Four times I tried this method to cast on for a hat and four times I have been unsuccessful. It does not create ribbing at all. Somehow I just can't seem to process what are excellent instructions in a way that has the desired effect.

Judith said...

I know I'm way out of date, but when I need a new technique I always come and see what TECHknitter has devised.

I see there is some gnashing of teeth here in the comments, and having tried the technique two ways I think I see an answer. As an English-style knitter, I found that in step 6 I had to pass my working yarn in front of each slipped back side loop and then back again to knit the next front side loop. I keep trying to teach myself to work Continental style for ribbing as it is more efficient at transferring from knit to purl, and maybe this is why TECHknitter hasn't had an issue here.

Also, in the instructions for step 4, the last sentence above the illustration should read:
"The illustration shows continental knitting with its LEFT-handed yarn feed, but if you are knitting English style (throwing) the action of the right hand and the path of the needle is identical--the only difference is that the yarn would feed off the RIGHT hand."

Anonymous said...

I love this cast on. It genuinely feels like there is elastic in it. I'm struggling to remember it and have to fully concentrate when casting on the stitches originally! Always having an odd number also is difficult for some patterns. Would you increase straight away so all the rib has the correct number of stitches?

KT said...

I was having the same problem as sajbat and lisa. Rose Fox's description of moving the yarn to front before slipping is right on, regardless of whether you are knitting round or flat, continental or english. Now I'm off running - thank you TECHknitter and commenters.

alli bee said...

Hi TK,
I love how you bring logic and engineering to simplify knitting!
I just wanted to expand on Rose Fox's 2x2 rib version of tubular CO. Basically the stitches on either side of the little stockinette tube are grouped in pairs instead of alternating to form the rib. Rose rearranges the stitches as she knits the first foundation row which can be a bit tricky. I find it easier to knit the first 4 foundation rows as usual.
The fifth row is the first rib row where the knit stitches forming the front of the tube alternate with the purl stitches which form the back of the tube to create a single fabric. Instead of alternating one to one, we can regroup and alternate 2 by 2. At this point the fabric is stable and there's less risk of dropping stitches.
Working all the stitches as you see them (knit or purl):
-work the first stitch (knit or purl, what ever it happens to be)
-slip the next stitch off the L needle and leave in midair (it will not pull out, no tension on it)
-work the 3rd stitch, which pairs with the 1st stitch
-scoop up and work the airborne stitch (purl or knit, opposite of 1 and 3)
-work the 4th stitch on the needle (which pairs with the once second, now third, stitch)
Continue in this manner down the row and 2x2 rib is now established.
One might be able to do this as 3x3 rib but suspect it would create considerable distortion (which on the other hand could add to the design interest).

As always, thoroughly enjoy the dissections as well as your reader contributions.

Laura Cappelletti said...

Thanks very much for these great instructions! I've done this CO before and love it for cuffs (slippers, socks, gloves), but I needed this reminder on the details. Some people get confused about what the working yarn strand does during the slip sts on the foundation rows. You've correctly stated to slip "purlwise"; just to clarify: we must bring the yarn to the FRONT, slip purlwise, then bring the yarn to the back, and knit as usual. Keep shifting the yarn from front to back between each stitch (for 1x1 rib).
Thanks again,

anna said...

I figured out the yarn needs to be in front of the work when a stitch is slipped and now I see you amended words back in 2009 obscuring this fact.

Based upon text and pictures I had not picked up on this (and I followed the pictures very good and concentrated) and the yarn created bumpy flows on the back of the work, not giving ribbing but more something resembling reverse stockinette.

Now I tried it bringing it to front (when slipping) and back (when knitting) I am getting the desired colomns. :)
I love to understand and learn about good hems and borders. Thank you very much :)

Anonymous said...

Please correct instructions for illustration 6 as per the two comments above. The yarn must be moved to the front of the work to slip the "purl looking" stitches, and in back to knit the "knit looking" stitches. I've wasted a lot of time figuring this out, and yours are the only instructions I've been able to find online for this 1x1 ribbed cast on.
Please correct these so others are not frustrated and discouraged! Especially knitters not as experienced as some of us here. ;)

TECHknitter said...

Hi Anon and others: I have added two addendums to the text, trying to do a better job of communicating what has to happen with the running yarn between the repeats of step 5 and step 6. If these addendums still don't clarify the motions, please write again to alert me, OK? Thanks so much for everyone's comments and suggestions for better text. --TK

cbvwew said...

First of all, just Thank You. Thank You. Can't find words to say more....

... other than to ask a couple of questions: I have a pair of commercially knitted thick wool socks that LOOK like they've used a tubular cast on, with a small piece of elastic thread *inside* the "tube", where your cast-on yarn is, just not pulled out. As if they used the elastic thread as the cast-on "waste" piece. So,
1) Does this sound reasonable and logical, is this likely what I'm seeing, am I interpreting it correctly?
2) Is it worth doing with hand-knit socks? Or do "properly fitted" socks just fit well enough that adding elastic is overkill? (I'm just starting my sock adventures, not sure how crazy I need to get here)
3) Assuming this is something I want to do, is this type of -- what would you call it? sock elastic? elastic thread? -- something that I could find at a full-service yarn store?

Did I say Thank You enough? Most thorough technical descriptions I've found....

TECHknitter said...

Hi cbvwew, you are welcome, and welcome to TECHknitting blog. As far as elastic goes, yes, you can use thread elastic as the waste yarn and leave it inside, but the trouble is connecting the two ends of the elastic: knotting them together leaves a lump, sewing them together comes undone. Experiment and see if you like the effect. Here is a further post with more information on elastic in socks (and yes, hand-made socks fall down every bit as much as any other kind!)

Best, TK

sidekick! said...

I just used this cast on to start a 1x1 ribbed sweater knit from the bottom up. The cast on edge is beautiful! Thanks for the great instructions.

Anonymous said...

I just used this cast on to start a 1x1 ribbed sweater in bulky yarn knit from the bottom up. The cast on edge is beautiful. Thank you for the article and addenda.

Diane Packer said...

I find using a size smaller pair of needles for the initial cast on and tubular rows along with using beading thread with the provisional yarn makes for a really nice even edge with a good tension

Tanya said...

Hi! Thanks for this tutorial. I have a question. What do you do with the selvedge stitch. In the pattern I am working, it won't be incorporated into a seem so I need for it to "go away". I tried to knit it together with the neighboring stitch but when I pulled the waste yarn from the cast on out, it unravelled. Any ideas? Thanks.

TECHknitter said...

Hi Tanya--I'm not sure I'm following what you want to do? My e-mail address is in the sidebar--maybe write to me there and send a photo? Best, TK

Sunju Park said...

Thanks for the great tutorial. I believe this is one of the most elastic cast on I've found, and your instructions are wonderful.
I'm wondering whether there'sa similar tutorial on tublar cast for 2*1 ribbing. I am making a golf club head cover which looks best with 2*1 ribbing. Thanks again.

TECHknitter said...

Hi Sanju: Unfortunately, I do not know a 2/1 tubular cast on. Perhaps consider working 1/1 for a few rows, switching to 2/1 thereafter? Alternatively, a hem will preserve the 2/1 pattern right around the edge. On so small an item as a golf club sock, a knitted-shut hem will work fine.

(You'll have to cut and paste the link into your browser window, I don't know how to do live links in the comments, sorry...)

Best, TK

Madeleine Ballard said...

Thank you for this. I have been using the tubular cast on, trying various methods, and this is so simple and straight forward. Thank you for explaining in the beginning and thanks for your great illustrations.


The Charity Shop Fairy said...

Apologies if I missed this in the comments but how would you go about creatin, a tubular twisted rib? Is it simply a matter of ktbl in the foundation rows? Thank you!

The Charity Shop Fairy said...

Ok so I went ahead and tried it, it works! Hurrah!

Johanna said...

Firstly, I really love this cast on! I've tried several other tubular cast on methods, and this yields by far the most consistently neat-looking edge, with the least amount of fiddling - especially when I use a needle several sizes smaller than the gauge needle for the project. Thank you!! The only problem I've ever had with it is how to deal with circular projects that require an even number of stitches cast on. However, I think I've figured a way around this, and wanted to share and see what others think. If you need to cast on an even number of stitches, use backwards loop to cast on the final stitch! This creates something stable to latch onto for that first stitch on the first foundation row, without creating a selvedge stitch. Would love to hear if anyone has another method for dealing with this issue, or if I'm missing some obvious problem here :) Again, thank you so much, Techknitter, for you enormously helpful blog!