The disappearing loop cast-on is a fast and easy way to cast on for knitting in the round from the centre out, perfect for top-down hats like The Porty Hat and Musselburgh.
The cast- on is worked by making a loop of yarn and casting on stitches around it. When your cast-on is complete you can simply pull the end of the yarn: the cast-on stitches will snug up against each other and the hole in the middle will vanish.
Similar ways to cast on from the centre-out include the pinhole cast-on and Emily Ocker’s cast-on. These methods both draw up a stitch from the centre of the loop, then use a crochet hook or your fingers to create a crochet-like chain stitch into it. This extra step separates the new stitches, but can also cause extra bulk around the cast-on.
Instead of working chain stitches, this disappearing loop cast-on alternates between drawing up a loop from the centre and yarn overs onto the right needle. Since there are fewer stitches picked up through the loop, this method is less bulky and quicker than other methods. If you also crochet you might recognise this technique: the disappearing loop is just like the “magic circle” in crochet, but knit!
How to cast on an even number of stitches with a disappearing loop
Begin by making a loop with your working yarn, about 6” (15cm) from the end. The short end of the yarn should cross over the ball end. This is the loop that will “disappear” once you continue knitting.
1. The first cast on stitch is a yarn over onto the right needle. Holding the loop open with your fingers, bring the right needle tip behind the ball end of the yarn - this is your first stitch.
2. Making sure not to let go of the loop, insert the right needle tip into the center of the loop, then over the ball end, grabbing up the strand, and drawing it through the loop to create your second stitch.
3. For the third stitch, yarn over onto the right needle.
Repeat steps 2 and 3, alternating the two types of stitches: draw up a stitch through the centre of the loop, then yarn over on the right needle. Continue until you’ve cast on the required number of stitches, ending with a step 2.
How to cast on an odd number of stitches with a disappearing loop
To cast on an odd number of stitches, begin with the ball end over the tail end of the yarn.
1. Make the first stitch by inserting the right needle into the center of the loop and drawing up a stitch.
2. Then yarn over onto the right needle.
Repeat steps 1 and 2, ending with a step 2. The first and last stitches are both picked up through the loop.
Casting on with double pointed needles
The step-by-step photos above show the disappearing loop cast-on worked on a circular needle. If you prefer to use dpns work the cast-on onto just one needle.
Dividing Stitches to work in the round
You’ll now divide your stitches over needles suitable for working small circumferences in the round: double pointed needles, 2 circulars, or magic loop. Working from right to left, slip a few stitches to each double pointed needle until you have 3 or 4 working needles, then you can begin knitting in the round.
If you’re using magic loop or 2 circulars, slip half the stitches onto each needle. Once you’ve worked a few rounds, pull on the tail to close up the loop.
In addition to top-down hats like Musselburgh, you can use the disappearing loop cast-on for all sorts of projects! It's the perfect cast-on for top-down mitts, seamless toys like Elijah and Sophie, toe-up socks, and centre-out shawls and blankets.
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