Way back in mid-October, I promised to show you videos of three different cast-ons - that are all the exact same thing . Each of these cast-ons is used for a completely different purpose: the first, the Italian Tubular Cast-on, is used when starting a K1,P1 rib to give a nice, stretchy tubular cast-on. The second, which I will show you today, is one of several methods you can use to do a provisional cast-on.
What, you may well wonder, is a provisional cast-on used for? A provisional cast-on is used when you know that you will later want to go back to your cast-on edge, and have live stitches with which to begin working seamlessly in the opposite direction. Note that these stitches worked on the second half of your piece are then one-half stitch off sideways to the original knitting. Some examples of when I have used a provisional cast-on:
1. When working on a lace shawl that is knitted from the center out - work the provisional cast-on, knit one half of the shawl beginning at the center and working towards one side edge. The go back to the provisional cast-on, put live sts back onto the needle, and then knit a mirror image of the knitting just done on the other half. When finished with the shawl, there is no grafting to do to join the two halves of the shawl together.
2. On a fair isle vest that was knitted from the center back around to the fronts in two separate pieces, and then was meant to be seamed in the center back. Instead, I used a provisional cast-on, knitted one half of the vest, and repeated for the opposite side. I finished by grafting the two halves together in the back with Kitchener stitch. In retrospect, I would now instead knit the second half of the vest right off of the provisional cast-on for the first half.
3. On a toe-up sock that begins with a cast-on of half the total sock stitches at the base of the toe, under the foot. A short row toe is knitted that works from the cast-on, up over the end of the toe, and then to the base of the toes on the top of the sock foot. Here, the provisional cast-on stitches are then joined to the live stitches so that you are working in the round, and the rest of the sock is worked from there.
So a provisional cast-on or two is a handy technique to have under your belt, to pull out when called for in a pattern; and also to use as a substitute, as I did with my vest, when the occasion calls for it.
Now then, do me a favor, and for review go back and watch the first part of the Italian Tubular Cast-on video from the previous blog post. Then grab some yarn, some contrasting waste yarn, and needles in a size that is appropriate for your yarn. I'll meet you back here.