Learn Something New: The Tubular Cast-On

Most of us use the long-tail cast-on for just about everything we knit.

There are a few things, though, that benefit from a special cast-on, and it’s good to have a few in your repertoire.

The tubular cast-on is one of those. It’s very stretchy, so it’s useful for socks, mittens, gloves, and hats. It’s also the perfect beginning for ribbing, which it mimics. The edge looks rolled over; it appears to have no real beginning, so it’s very attractive on hats and cuffs of all sorts.

This cast-on is aptly named, because it forms a tube as it’s knitted. The knits stay in front and the purls go to the back. You achieve this by alternately knitting and slipping each stitch, creating two layers of fabric. Be aware that the edge may flare undesirably if it’s worked in bulky yarn, so you might need to go down a needle size when casting on.

Here’s a video tutorial from Knitting Daily TV to show you how to knit the tubular cast-on.

I think this cast-on is pretty ingenious. It looks so nice and it’s really easy to work! Below are some written directions, too. These differ slightly from what Eunny shows in the video, but both methods work equally well.

The Tubular Cast-On

Figure 1
Figure 2

The tubular cast-on is worked with waste yarn that is later removed; it is ideal for setting up k1, p1 ribbing. It forms a rounded edge that is both strong and elastic.

With contrasting waste yarn, cast on half the number of stitches required using the backward-loop method. Cut the waste yarn.

With the main color yarn, knit 1 row, purl 1 row, knit 1 row.

Next row (WS): P1, bring yarn to back, insert tip of right needle into main-color loop at edge of first main color row (Figure 1). Place this loop on left needle and knit it. *P1, bring yarn to back, insert right needle into main-color loop 3 rows below (Figure 2), place loop on left needle and knit it; rep from * to end.

Work in k1, p1 ribbing for several rows before removing waste yarn.

A couple of tips for you:

  • Make sure you use a contrasting colored waste yarn that is relatively smooth so it’ll be easy to pull out. I use yarn with more of a contrast that what was used in the video, but that yarn worked out just fine, too.
  • Don’t make your cast-on too tight or you’ll lose the elasticity that this cast-on is famous for. As I mentioned above, though, it’s best to use a size smaller needle for bulky yarn.
  • Using needles with sharp points makes it easier to pick up the purl bumps.

I hope you enjoy working and using the tubular cast-on. I think you will!

And for more knitting tips, techniques, and in-depth knitting instruction, order our Ultimate Knitting Daily TV DVD Kit! It’s a valuable knitting library that you’ll use for years to come.


P.S. What’s your favorite cast-on? Leave a comment and let us know!

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