Italian Cast On

Posted by on Mar 4, 2013 in All Tutorials, Rachel Erin, Tutorials | Comments Off on Italian Cast On

I like this cast on any time I need a really stretchy 1 x 1 ribbed edge. It is also stretchy enough to use when casting on lace and brioche stitches.

Click the thumbnails to view as a slideshow, or scroll down for extended directions.

Step 1: Make a loop on the needle – identify thumb and finger strands.


The finger strand lies on top of the thumb strand to start the row with a knit stitch.

Step 2: Needle goes under thumb strand, over finger strand.


This is tricky because it’s hard to see how the needle went under the thumb strand as the cast on twists a little bit – we’ll be pulling it back out in Step 4.

Step 3: Wrap finger strand around needle.


This loop is the new stitch.

Step 4: Bring needle and new stitch back under the thumb strand, returning hands to original position.


One (purl) stitch cast on. The first loop makes a stitch oriented like a knit stitch.

Step 5: Needle goes under finger strand, and over thumb strand.


Begin by bringing the needle towards you, then go under the finger strand from front to back.

Step 6: Wrap thumb strand.


Wrap as if you were knitting – the wrap is the second stitch.

Step 7: Bring needle and new loop back under the finger strand, returning hands to original position.


Reverse the movement from Step 5, bring the needle towards you and under the finger strand.

Repeat Steps 2-7 until you have all the stitches except one.

Step 8: Make a half hitch for the last stitch.

it_co_step 8

The different orientations of the knit and purl stitches are clearly visible.

And here is what the edge looks like after a few rows have been knit.


When working the Italian Cast-On in the round, it is especially easy to twist the stitches during the first row. The way they are made makes it nearly impossible to discern if they are upside down or not. I solved this by working back on wrong side row before joining in the round. That way I could untwist the cast on as I worked back, and then join in the round with enough of an edge to keep everything straight.