I recommend the tubular cast-on in all the animal sweaters in my Imagination collection, and as it’s a bit unusual to use it for 2 x 2 ribbing, I’ve made my own tutorial.
Part 1 will show the normal method for an even number of stitches. In Part 2 I’ll talk about tricks specific to my patterns.
As with most things in knitting, there are several ways to go about it. I use the stockinette method when I use the tubular cast on.
The basic procedure is: (1)Cast on half the total number of stitches using a provisional cast on of some sort, (2)knit 4 rows of stockinette stitch, (3) Fold the knit fabric over to rib the first real row of the piece, knitting the knit stitches off the needle, and purling the purl stitches from the cast-on.
Click a thumbnail for a slideshow version of the tutorial, or scroll down for the extended directions.
Step 1: Provisional cast-on.
In Step 3, the number of stitches will be doubled, so the provisional cast on starts with half the final number of stitches. For this example (a sleeve), I need to end up with 34 stitches, so I cast on 17 (don’t count the slip knot – I’ll drop it to avoid lumps). I am using a contrasting waste yarn.
I like to use the backwards loop cast-on. I used to use a crochet cast-on, but I found it made my overall cast-on too tight, so I went back to the backwards loop. If your overall cast-on is too loose or too tight, try a different needle size for these three steps, or a different provisional cast-on.
Step 2: Knit 4 rows of stockinette stitch in the main color.
4 rows is pretty standard, but it really depends on the yarn. You may need (or want) 6 rows with bulkier yarn.
Step 3: Fold and rib.
Step 3.1: Knit the first two stitches.
Step 3.2: Prepare to purl the next two stitches from the back of the cast on.
Fold the four rows you have knit so that the cast-on edge is lined up with the current stitches, and the knit side is facing out. One can now see the little purl bumps of the main color, sticking out from the contrasting waste yarn used in the provisional cast on.
Here is close up of the first purl bump being picked up.
Insert your right needle into the very first purl bump, place it on the left needle and purl it. Do this again for the next purl bump.
The second purl bump is being picked up.
Then knit the next two stitches.
Here you can see the first six stitches of the 2 x 2 ribbing.
Continue repeating Step 3 to the end – knit two off the right needle, then purl 2 stitches from the purl bumps of the cast on – to the end.
At the end, the last purl bumps can be hard to find.
This is a closeup of the last purl bump from the provisional cast on.
Insert the right needle, pick it up and put it on the left needle.
There it is, all ready to purl.
For this example, the last 2 stitches are knit.
And the tricky part is done. The last step is to pick out (or clip out) the provisional cast on.
In the Imagination Collection, there are some odd numbered cast ons, and some times when a piece needs to start or end with three knit or purl stitches. Visit Part 2 for specifics on how to do that smoothly.