Needle-and-Hook Provisional Cast-On

Hello! Draped over the washing line along our beech hedge in its autumn finery is a scarf I’ve just finished. It has an interesting cast-on I’ll tell you about further on, but first a few photos and a bit about the scarf (and about something I found!).

The Polka Dot Scarf, as the design is called, has holes for ‘dots’. A knitting friend sighed, ‘Oh, so much work in such a thin yarn!’ But it wasn’t like that for me at all. For me, it represents many hours of peaceful meditation.

The Polka Dot Scarf pattern can be found here on Ravelry. It is described in two widths and I’ve made the wider version. Knit on 3.75 mm (US 5) needles, mine measures 56 cm by 1.90 m (20 by 74¾ inches) and weighs 150 g. Lightweight, yet warm and cosy.

The yarn I’ve used is Lamana ‘Milano’ (90% wool/10% cashmere; 25 g/180 m), a heavy lace-weight in a dark denim shade. The yarn manufacturer has high standards with regard to animal welfare and sustainability, which is a big plus for me.

This is a scarf that really benefits from some severe blocking. (Sorry, forgot to take pictures of the blocking process.) When it was finished I decided that it would be perfect for my grandson’s other grandmother. What do you call someone like that? A fellow nan? A co-granny? Anyway, she wears stylish, unfussy clothes in navy and grey, and I hope she’ll like it.

I photographed the Polka Dot Scarf on a blouse with raindrops and umbrellas…

… not just because they looked nice together, but also because the blouse symbolizes the very wet autumn we’re having this year. During a sunny spell on a rainy day, I found a dragonfly in front of our house. A sadly bedraggled but still beautiful creature, with blue markings on its body and head.

It is a migrant hawker, called paardenbijter (horse biter) in Dutch. Does it really bite horses?, I wondered. Will it bite me? And more important: is it alive or dead? The best policy seemed to place it in a sunny spot to dry its raindrop spangled wings and fly away if it was alive or be picked up by a bird if not.

It’s gone now, and I’ll never know whether it’s flown away of its own accord or in a bird’s stomach.

To close off, here is a step-by-step guide to the

Needle-and-Hook provisional cast-on

1 – With a length of smooth waste yarn, make a slip-knot and place it on a crochet hook.

2 – With the hook in your right hand and the knitting needle in your left, form an X. The hook should be on top. Holding the thread behind the knitting needle, wrap the yarn around the hook…

… and pull it through the loop. Now the first stitch is on your needle.

3 – Passing the yarn between the knitting needle and the hook, bring it back behind the needle and repeat step 2 until you have the required number of stitches on your needle.

4 – Crochet a few chain stitches at the end. Hang a stitch marker from the last stitch to remember where to start unravelling later on. Now, start knitting with the yarn chosen for your project.

5 – Ready to remove the cast-on? Starting at the tail with the stitch marker, carefully unravel the crochet chain and pick up the live stitches one by one. Don’t forget the half stitch at the end!

This is a really useful technique for e.g. scarves knit from the middle out to the sides. In the case of the Polka Dot Scarf, it’s used for knitting on a nice I-cord edge.

I hope I’ve explained it clearly. If all goes according to plan, I’ll take you out for walk again next week. See you then! xxx

6 thoughts on “Needle-and-Hook Provisional Cast-On”

  1. Your polka dot scarf is gorgeous, and what a wonderful item to gift. I am sure that the other grandmother will love it. Also, what a beautiful dragon fly.

    • Such a beautiful creature – very special to find it in our garden. And I really hope you’re right – I don’t know the other grandmother very well yet.

  2. Your needle & hook provisional cast on is the best I have seen. I have done this with mixed results and multiple messy attempts. You make it look beautiful & simple. i am going to keep these directions handy. I love you photographs and walks. They are beautiful. I enjoy your posts.

    • I know that there are more similar tutorials around and wondered if mine would add anything. It’s good to hear that it does! It isn’t very difficult. What baffled me at first was how to get the yarn back behind the needle. Thank you for your kind words.

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