Saturday, September 26, 2009

Jeny's Stretchy Slipknot Cast-On

Since Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off was published in Knitty earlier this month, a number of knitters have asked me if there is an accompanying stretchy cast-on. Well, there is. It is the most elastic cast-on I know -- more elastic than the classic long-tail cast-on. And this one is not a long-tail cast-on so you don't have to worry about how much yarn to leave for the tail.

Like my bind-off, this cast-on is super-stretchy:

And like my bind-off, this cast-on also hinges at the bends of the ribbing.

I've created a video to show you how to do it.

This video is also available on YouTube at

The basic premise of this cast-on is this:

1. Make a slip knot.
2. Make another slip knot.
3. Continue.

It's really as simple as that. But it's a little tricky getting the slip knots to all line up right next to each other on the needle. The video will walk you through the tricky parts.

The origin of this bindoff is somewhat of a mystery. Years and years ago I learned it, or something like it, from a book. I later forgot how to do it, and couldn't find the original resource I learned from, or any knitters who knew it, so I had to figure it out all over again by myself. This happened a few more times over the years. And I still can't find the resource, or any other knitter who uses this cast-on. So who knows if it's an original, or if it's some ancient cast-on, lost in the midst of time. It doesn't matter -- it's an awesome cast-on that every knitter should know about. If you've ever used or seen anything like it, please post a comment!

Warning: This cast-on is a bit finicky about the kind of yarn you use. You should use yarn that is a smooth texture and uniform in width. Trying to do this cast-on with yarns like chenille, or any of the yarns shown here, will give you nightmares!

ADDENDUM 9/28: Now that this post has been up for a few days, other knitters who know this cast-on (or very similar) are coming out of the woodwork. Yaaay, I knew you were out there!

Check out this video:

The author twists the yarn around the needles with a different set of motions, but the end result is, in fact, the same.

ADDENDUM #2, 10/4: A-HA! Confirmation that yes this does in fact exist in print. See Montse Stanley's Buttonhole Cast-On, p. 76, fig 2.37.


  1. Jeny, you rock! It looks like an backwards loop cast on, except by drawing the yarn through, it's like you're knitting the first row at the same time. That avoids the horrible-ness of trying to actually knit the first row *after* a backwards loop cast on. This is very cool.

  2. Yay, Jeny. Thanks very much. The video works beautifully to demonstrate the process correctly and the what if you don't do each step as described, as well.

  3. Tell How this makes for a stretchy cast on - I don't understand the principle that makes it stretchy. I know it is - but I want to understand it.

  4. I love finding new and amazing knit and crochet goodies. Your bind off and cast on are right at the top of my list of late. When you've got Cat demonstratin' your stuff you know its good! Thanks so much for sharing! I've been working on a stitch pattern and your SSBO, I think, will be a perfect match for it. Strangely I call it the super stretchy rib stitch.

    Knitting Rose, I'm thinking it has something to do with all those yo's. That's like twice the stitches and Jeny's construction somehow controls it all. To awesome for words, you'll.

  5. Knitting Rose and Pam, I'm actually somewhat mystified myself on why the CAST-ON is so elastic. I'm guessing it has to do with the fact that the knots allow the yarn to loop around itself before going to the next stitch, allowing enough slack for the elasticity. Provided, of course, that you don't pull the knots *really* tight as you are casting on.

    As for the BIND-OFF, Pam you are right on track, but specifically it has to do with the direction of the YO (i.e., regular vs. reverse). I'll go into more detail in a later post, because this will require pictures to illustrate adequately.

    It's great that you guys are asking these questions -- that's what makes great knitters!

  6. Thanks so much for the video, Jeny! I used your surprisingly stretchy bind off for the last pair of socks I knitted and LOVED it- can't wait to try this cast on!

  7. Thank you so much for these terrific tutorials and tips. I just tried the stretchy cast-on. On thing I noticed was that it was very easy for me to do this cast-on with a crochet hook. I also tried it as the foundation row for tunisian crochet and it worked very well with a nubbed look that eliminated some of the typical curl of the tunisian fabric.

  8. OH WOW!! Just tried this cast-on and will Definitely use it for my top-down socks from now on!! LOVE your stretchy bind-off for toe-up socks and now I have the Perfect combo for sock knitting no matter which way I make them!! Thanks TONS for this! :o)

  9. Jeny, the cast-on was actually in Montse Stanley's "the Knitter's Handbook" (on page 67 of the copy I have). I use this all the time when I have to add stitches at the end of a row or for top down socks.
    Your bind-off is now my favourite BTW.


    1. Please see Addendum #2 above citing this reference, which I added on 10/4 2009, a week after publishing the original post..

  10. What do you do after you get the slipknots on the needle? Do you just follow your pattern as written?

  11. hi, i love your stretchy cast off but having just learned it as well as the provisional cast on, i felt my brain couldn't take on anything new just now so in order to get a super stretchy cast-on for my sock - I used a provisional cast on, left lots of yarn and then when the sock was finished, picked up the live stitches and used your bind-off - I must say I was pretty pleased with myself - thanks for sharing and hopefully others can try this method too. Jakki I have referenced this page on my blog

  12. This is awesome!! Do you recommend still doing the cast on over a larger needle for lace?

  13. I spent days trying to get this non springy yarn to work with a beanie I'm trying to knit (p2r1). The first two rows of ribbing were loose, sloppy and unpleasant. Turns out it was my cast on that was the problem. It was the wrong foundation for my hat. This one is perfect. Thank you thank you. This will help me with every ribbed cuff I ever work on. <3 <3 <3 <3

  14. Thank you for this tutorial. I created a script to go along with each of the steps to create the slip knot to remind myself:
    1. wrap around thumb
    2. transfer to index finger to create twist
    3. needle through
    4. wrap over the top of needle and pull through

    Or "wrap, index twist, through, wrap over top"

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