“I just want more of her.” A wonderful piece on the late lamented food writer, Laurie Colwin.

Oh. Snap.

Dear Ann,
Remember how we were prattling on in our latest Problem Ladies column over at Twist Collective? About how we hate the crochet chain provisional cast on because it always worms around and we pick up in the wrong side of the bump or whatever and then, weeks or months or lifetimes later, it won’t unzip properly when it’s time to free the live stitches, and how this defeats the whole purpose of doing the fiddly thing in the first place, and so we dispense with the whole exercise and just cast on in waste yarn and cut it out later? (Or was that just me?)
Well, thanks to kind Raveler Angela, the scales have fallen from my (extremely scaly) eyes: I have seen Lucy Neatby’s video of her way of doing the crochet cast on. The earth moved under my feet. Not wormy! Stays totally still! On the knitting needle! No need to find the correct bump or lump to start knitting into with the real yarn! And on top of it all, that clipped, cheery Lucy voice explaining it all to you!
I am ashamed. But also delighted. This is life changing. Or at least shawl changing. It was scary taking the scissors to my clunky non-provisional cast-on.
I can do a provisional cast-on. Me! All by myself! With a little “unzip me here” chain!
Enjoy, everyone. (Assuming there are others out there in a similar state of arrested development on this issue.) Thank you Lucy!
Love,
Kay

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74 Comments

74 Comments

  1. I’m freed! Eureka! (seriously, if this was a confessional kinda thing, there would be a line out the door of Non-Provisional Cast-on-ers!)

  2. Found Lucy’s video several months ago and felt the same as you do now. Why can’t all futzy knitting techniques have a solution such as this? Probably because they all haven’t been researched by Lucy Neatby! Of course I’m still grateful for your discovery of the k2togtbl instead of the ssk, so now I’m doubly blessed. I’m starting to acquire an arsenal!

  3. Hurrah! and thanks!

  4. Yeah, Lucy’s version completely changed my attitude towards crochet cast-on. Welcome to the club!

  5. Thank you. I have been considering casting on a shawl but the provisional crochet thingy was holding me up. I kept imagining I would somehow screw up the crochet gauge or I would be cutting provisional yarn away from a couple hundred stitches. Wow, I could actually ditch my current project for this cast on, woohoo!

  6. Well, Kay, now you can provisionally crochet cast on to your heart’s delight! Lucy is so great at explaining and demonstrating knitterly things. I had a daylong class with her about a year ago, and I love to listen to her accent, especially when she says “in-tar-sea-ah”! (In Texas, we say “in-tar-zuh”; I don’t know how the rest of the world pronounces it though.)
    Mary G. in Texas

  7. Oh, brilliant! I learned this cast on from Lily Chin in a class last year. But I didn’t need it for a while, and couldn’t remember how to do it when I finally needed it. Very cool.

  8. how ‘neat’ is that! and she counts stitches in THREES!!

  9. Oh my god. That is amazing! I wish I needed to start something with a provisional cast on now, just so I could try it! I ALWAYS pick the wrong bumps, and now it’ll never happen again! Thank you!

  10. That’s the way that I’ve always done a provisional cast on. I learned it from Nancie Wiseman’s book “The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques”
    When I found it, I was trying to avoid having to make a crochet chain. I don’t get along with the crochet – but this I can handle.

  11. I am saved.

  12. Wow! Thank you so much for this link. It’s life-changing!

  13. Lucy rocks. That is all there is to it.

  14. Oh wow, this post couldn’t have come at a better time. I am about to cast on my Perfect Sweater and I was dreading the provisional cast on…. Thanks!

  15. My jaw almost fell to the floor… that’s going to change how I do alot of things.

  16. finally! I can’t tell how many times I have fretted about my inability to do a crochet chain provisional cast on! No more, I tell you, no more!

  17. Bookmarked! That’s fantastic – I can’t usually stand provisional cast-ons of any nature. Well discovered!

  18. Thanks! That was a big help. I hated it also. I have a knitting project coming up and it called for the provisional cast-on. So I am all set.
    We hope!

  19. Life changing. I have used crochet provisional lots, and it’s always a toss up if I can unzip. This is perfect.

  20. OH MY Gosh! I have never seen that. I cannot crochet a chain for the life of me. I can crochet an edge, sort of, therefore I think I can do this!!! Plus adding the knitting needle will make it seem so natural. I keep saying I must buy a Lucy Neatby video, here is more evidence of that!!!

  21. Praise the Knitting Gods and Goddesses! Thanks to you and Lucy N. I am reborn as a Provisonal Caster-oner.

  22. Thank you for that link. I always have trouble with the crochet/provisional cast on and that is just genius.

  23. Love it! Thanks for the link. Love your website and books. Looking for a new project in Mason-Dixon books, which one should I start!
    Janice in southeastern WI

  24. YAY. I am now less dumb…

  25. I have used this for years and just love it. Makes a cast is as well if you use your main yarn and just slip the last stitch onto the knitting needle. I also instead of chaining at the end, place a safety pin in the loop on the crochet hook and pin it to the cast on edge and there you are you know where to unzip.

  26. This is the method I use too but I think I learned it from Eunny Jang. I only did one of the wormy, fiddly, snippy, messy provisional cast ons before I went looking for a better way. Glad the earth moved for you.

  27. I have used this cast-on many times but never thought of making it provisional. See light bulb above head. Thanks!

  28. Lucy is the Bomb!! If you ever get a chance to take a class form her, do it! Youll learn all sorts of tricks.

  29. That is the only way to do the crochet cast on without going completely bonkers.
    Beware, though, the CO chain still won’t unzip if the first row you knit into it has a mix of knits and purls. It has to be all stockinette (or reverse stockinette) stitch to work. Otherwise, the path the yarn takes from K to P traps the CO yarn and you’ll have to cut it anyway.
    Ask me how I know…

  30. Lucy Neatby on DVD or in person is fabulous. She uses her DVD’s in her classes – the combo is perfect because you can see what she is telling you. There is very good description of the crochet cast-on (not the crochet provisional cast-on) in Sally Melville’s The Knit Stitch. It is one of those things that seems like magic when you do it.

  31. OMG this is lifechanging. I always liked the concept of the unzippable cast on, but I often had the same problem — one twist and it’s screwed up. This is awesome.

  32. gosh! That’s the way I do it for my toe up socks – but I learned from a book & it took me ages to get the hang of it. Wish I’d just seen the video.

  33. I’ve done the crochet cast on before, but never around the knitting needle like that. I can see how it would be handy to not wonder if your stitches are somehow wonky through the backside of the chains.

  34. Is there a knitter’s version of the Nobel Prize? Lucy Neatby should be the first winner!!

  35. Lucy Neatby is my knitting hero; it seems like there is nothing she can’t take on and explain in the most concrete, satifying way. Hooray!

  36. This completely made my day! Thanks for sharing, this is wonderful. I’ll never shy away from those provisional castons again.

  37. Apropos of nothing: Just got the book City Quilts by Cherri House. The simple geometrics was inspired by the buildings of downtown Houston. The style absolutely made me think of the Baby Moderne and other blocky, modular M-D blankets so I thought I’d share.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157120847X/ref=oss_product#_

  38. Magnificent, thank you. Possibly as life-changing as Neatby’s navajo plying for knitters (not spinners). Genius.

  39. Whoa… this is awesome! Thanks for the tip. I’m having a crochet cast on renaissance!

  40. Holy crap! As I watched that, I remembered how, years ago when I was a new knitter, someone in a yarn shop helped me with a provisional cast-on like that! How could I have forgotten? How could I have been messing with crocheted chains all these years? Thanks so much for the reminder!

  41. It’s a total thing of beauty! I’d tried this before and loved it but had totally forgotten about it until now. Thank you for reminding me about it!

  42. Pure genius, and yet another example of something truly useful I have learned from your blog. I love you guys!

  43. Halfway through your explanation, I was already planning to comment about Lucy. I need to watch her vids again to get that one-step cast off. The simplest answers are the most brilliant.

  44. The “unravel me from this end chain”! Brilliant!

  45. I learned this method from Elizabeth Zimmermann. She suggests a little 4-crochet chain at the beginning & end–to help you unzip.

  46. will it work for the Puff Daddy Scarf?

  47. DITTO DITTO DITTO!!!

  48. Kay, you are too funny! Me? I *hated* provisional cast ons when the only way I knew how was the way Lucy teaches in that video. HATE IT! Won’t do it, nope, not me! I like the invisible provisional cast on http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/cast-on …easy, simple, quick, nothing to it when it’s time to pull it out…..

  49. New year, new cast on.
    L’ Shana Tova.
    LoveDiane

  50. Kay, I learned this cast on when knitting Sally Melville’s Einstein Jacket. It looks just like a bound off edge, so it really finishes a project nicely. I have since used it as a provisional CO, so that the air does not turn blue, first as I pick up stitches through the chain, and then when I attempt to unravel the chain. Yay for knitting geniuses everywhere. Need to get some of those Lucy DVDs. Thanks

  51. Brilliant!

  52. Wow, wow, wow. I never make my chain big enough and then can’t pick up the stitches. Love this!

  53. Thank you! That’s such an easy way to do it and so simple, really. I also watched her beading with a crochet hook video. I’ve ready about it but seeing it really helps me understand.

  54. I love it when you can find ways to avoid hacking up perfectly good knitting!!!

  55. I can now not cringe when I read the words “using a provisional cast on” . . . .

  56. I found this way to cast on in a Cottage Creations pattern. Much easier!

  57. WOW !!! I am freed. Thank you so much!

  58. Thank you thank you thank you!!!! I’ve avoided any projects with provisional cast on because I hated all the fiddly.

  59. The chorus just sang in my head! YAY!

  60. Ye gods and little fishes! That is so simple it is wonderful! Thank you Lucy! And Kay, and Angela.

  61. Thanks for sharing this! I’m sorry I didn’t know about this before starting Volt but I definitely feel braver about using a provisional cast-on for the next project I do from THE FINE LINE.

  62. It just makes too much sense to crochet the chain AROUND the knitting needle, rather than separately, doesn’t it? Thanks for drawing attention to something I never would have found or figured out on my own.

  63. Wow, that’s really cool. Who knew? Thank you!

  64. I use that cast on sometimes when I want the start to look the same as the cast off but I’ve never tried it as a provisional. I’ve heard it referred to as a Japanese cast on.

  65. Yes, it’s a wonderful cast-on, but as one other person noted, it is STILL possible to not be able to unzip the chain. I have no idea what I did – maybe knits and purls, I don’t know – but I do recall having trouble unzipping. Still better than taking a scissors to your knitting!

  66. Brilliant! And simple! Thanks for sharing!

  67. Oh, yes! I can’t count the number of projects I have NOT knitted simply because I couldn’t grasp how to do the provisional cast-on. This is so simple. Thank you, Lucy, and thank you, Kay for sharing the video!!

  68. This discussion makes me think of the “swiss cheese” nature of arts and crafts practice—or maybe any practice, including cheese making!
    That is, what is easy for one person really challenges someone else. I, for instance, can happily knit projects without a pattern, which some skilled knitters find very impressive. However, I tremble at the prospect of fair isle, steeking, or any lace pattern more complicated than feather and fan.
    So, luckily for all of us, the “holes” in our cheese/knitting practices are balanced by the solid parts! : )

  69. HAPPY NEW YEAR

  70. Thank you for posting this. I went and watched it today and light dawned on Marblehead….

  71. Brilliant! The most fantastic things in knitting are those which are so simple they are revolutionary. Crochet the chain onto your needle as you go. Why did we not think of this before???

  72. And I echo the others… Thank You from the bottom of my heart. So much less alcohol will be needed in future!

  73. This is great, but if you are crochet adverse like myself, the only way to do a provisional cast on is using Judy’s Magic Cast On, as explained by the awesome Cat Bordhi:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhBIS0AhhQY

  74. Free at last.