If you have worked a tubular cast on for 1x1 rib before the chances are that you used a variation on the stocking stitch method, it seems to be the most common. You can also work a tubular cast on for 2x2 rib using any of the other methods for 1x1 rib and rearrange the stitches.
Long Tail Tubular Cast on for 1x1 or 2x2 Rib
This is basically a variation of long tail cast on, hence the name, and I've shown how to re-arrange the stitches for 2x2 rib. If you're working in the round you should work the cast on and 2 tubular rows on straights before switching to your circulars and joining the round. The reason for this is simply that the cast on will get really tangled on the cable if you work it on circulars. For 2x2 rib this method makes a much more elastic edge than the stocking stitch method, so it's ideal for my fair isle patterns Cruden and Bruntsfield. I know that some people have had problems with tight cast ons for those patterns so hopefully this method will help.
This method is similar to the Italian method but it is not identical. In the Italian cast on one strand of yarn makes the stitches and one runs along the bottom – this strand can then be pulled out at the end. In the long tail method the strand that goes around the needle and the one that runs along the bottom alternate at each stitch so there is no strand to pull out – attempting to do this will destroy the cast on. Don’t ask how I figured that out!
Stocking Stitch Tubular Cast on for 2×2 Rib
The stocking stitch method is a bit time consuming but probably the easiest method. It creates a firmer but less elastic edge than the method above although you can make it a little looser by using larger needles for the entire cast on. Alongside your working needles and yarn you will need some smooth scrap yarn and a spare dpn or circular needle a few sizes smaller than your working needles (whether you will need a dpn or a circular really depends on the number of stitches you are casting on, choose a needle that half of your total number of stitches will fit on comfortably). To make things clearer I used bamboo needles as my working needles and a metal one as my spare needle.
Begin by provisionally casting on half of your total number of stitches onto your working needles. My favourite provisional cast on is a crochet cast on, but you can use any method that you prefer.
Starting with a knit row work 4 rows in stocking stitch using your working yarn.
Unzip your cast on and slip the stitches onto your spare needle. The final stitch won’t really seem like a real stitch but a loop of yarn, make sure you slip it onto the needle anyway.
You will now have half your total number of stitches on your working needle and half on the spare needle. Slide the stitches along the spare needle so that both needle points are positioned next to the working yarn.
Fold the spare needle up behind the working needle so that you knitting is folded in half and the spare needle is behind the working needle
I’m aiming for a 2×2 rib arranged: p1, (k2, p2), k2, p1. For other arrangements you will need to adapt the following directions.
Purl the first stitch from the spare needle.
Then k2 from the working needle, p2 from the spare needle, across the row, ending with k2, p1.
For flat knitting work in rows in the rib pattern as established. If you are knitting in the round join the round at this point and continue in the rib pattern as established. When you have finished knitting sew together the first couple of stitches.