by Laura Chau December 02, 2021 3 min read

Have you ever needed to work a provisional cast-on and weren’t sure what to do? This crochet provisional cast-on tutorial is for you! A provisional cast-on doesn’t refer to any particular cast-on method, but rather to the idea of a temporary cast-on that can be undone later, leaving live stitches that you can knit in the opposite direction. You can cast on provisionally with any method using waste yarn, but we love this crochet method because it’s easy to work and unzips easily to release the live stitches. You don’t need to know how to crochet to use this method.

Materials

A mottled blue desk surface with a ball of beige yarn, a pair of knitting needles, some light blue scrap yarn, and a crochet hook.

For a crochet provisional cast-on, you’ll need:
- some smooth waste yarn (nothing mohair or fuzzy!) in a similar size to your working yarn or a bit thinner
- a crochet hook that’s a similar size to your working needles

How to work a Crochet Provisional Cast-on – video

How to work a Crochet Provisional Cast-on

Make a slipknot with the waste yarn.

Place slipknot onto the crochet hook and tighten.

Step 1. Begin by making a slipknot and placing it onto the crochet hook.

Hold the crochet hook in front of knitting needle, with the yarn behind the needle, then wrap the yarn around the hook.

Wrap the yarn around the crochet hook over the needle.

Step 2. Hold your crochet hook in your right hand, and an empty knitting needle in your left hand. Cross the crochet hook in front of the knitting needle at a 90 degree angle, with the long tail of the scrap yarn behind the left needle. Wrap the yarn from behind the knitting needle, over the crochet hook.

Draw the yarn through the slipknot on the hook. Step 3. Draw the yarn through through the slip knot on your hook. One stitch has now been cast on.

Prepare for the next stitch by bringing the yarn over the hook.

Insert the knitting needle tip between the loop and the wrap on the hook.

Step 4. Prepare for the next stitch by bringing the scrap yarn over the hook, but not drawing it through yet. Position the knitting needle between the loop on the hook and the wrap for the new stitch.

Knitting needle is now between the wrap and the loop on the hook.

Draw the wrap through the loop on the hook to cast on another stitch.

Step 5. With the knitting needle now between the loop and the wrap, draw the wrap through the loop to cast on another stitch. 

Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you’ve cast on the required number of stitches.

Alternatively, you can bring the yarn to the back, then cast on over the knitting needle.

Ready to cast on. Wrap the yarn around the hook and draw through.

Alternative method for steps 4 and 5: After completing a stitch, bring the yarn to the back between the hook and the needle, and then wrap the scrap yarn around the hook and draw through to create the next stitch.

Finishing the provisional cast-on

When you're done casting on, chain a few extra stitches with scrap yarn.

Fasten off the waste yarn after working a few chain stitches.

To finish off the waste yarn, work a few extra chain stitches: [wrap the yarn around the hook and draw it through the loop on the needle] about 5 times. Then cut the waste yarn and pass the end through the final loop.

Join your working yarn and knit!

Now you can join your working yarn and work into your provisional cast on!

Undoing a Provisional Cast-on

A few rows of knitting with the working yarn, ready to unzip the provisional cast on.

Ready to remove the provisional cast-on.

Unpick the end of the cast-on with the extra chain stitches. Begin at the end of the provisional cast-on where you worked the extra chain stitches. Unpick the end of the yarn until a loop is exposed. Pulling on the end will now unzip the chain.

Once the loop has been unpicked, pulling on it will unzip the chain.

Place live stitches onto the needle as you unzip the chain.

Place each stitch onto the needle as you unzip the chain.

As you unzip the provisional cast-on, place the live stitches onto a working needle.

At the end of the provisional cast-on there will be a half stitch.

Since the stitches have been turned upside-down, there will be a half-stitch at the end of the row. Once you’ve picked up all your live stitches, compare your stitch count with the required number and adjust by picking up or dropping a half stitch at the edge - nothing will unravel.

Finished taking out the provisional cast-on.

You can use the provisional crochet cast-on anywhere a provisional cast on is needed. You can also use this crochet method to cast on with your working yarn rather than waste yarn as it makes a pretty edge that matches a standard bind-off.

Eager to try this cast-on method

Laura Chau
Laura Chau