Monday, February 7, 2011

Judy's Magic Cast On, a-la-Jeny (video demo)

New! as of 6/19 2022, here is a video demonstrating the kinetics of  the method illustrated below. 

A bit over a year ago, I posted my version of Judy's Magic Cast On, which is very similar to the traditional version except that I start on the bottom needle. My original post is here. Then sometime after that, I re-engineered the first step, to make casting on easier and to make the end result neater. In the meantime, I also got some more practice using Adobe Illustrator. So I now present to you some updated illustrations of this excellent provisional cast on brought to you by the extremely clever & creative Judy Becker. In the illustrations below, blue indicates the working yarn, held with the thumb and wrapped over the top needle. Red indicates the tail, held with the forefinger and wrapped over the bottom needle. Starting position:

Position the 2 tips of a circular cable pointing to the left, and wrap the yarn around the bottom needle like so. (This will become your first cast on stitch.) Hold the working yarn with your thumb. Hold the tail with your forefinger. Step 1: Cast on the first top stitch. Bring the working yarn up behind the bottom needle and in front of the top needle.

Now swing your hand down behind the needles, as shown by the arrow. This will bring the working yarn over and around the top needle. The result will look like this. You have now cast on two stitches: one on the bottom needle, and one on the top needle.

Step 2: Cast on the next bottom stitch. Bring the tail up in front of the bottom needle and behind the top needle.

Step 3: Cast on the next top stitch. Bring the working yarn up behind the bottom needle and in front of the top needle, just as you did in Step 1. Swing your hand down behind the needles... ...and you will have two stitches on each needle. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches. Then you can continue to knit with your working yarn.


  1. this is so nice and clear-thanks you! I will keep it in my book marks. I would love a pdf copy to keep on my ipad!

    1. Copy the text you want, download it to Word, make a pdf. I did that and shrunk the pictures - it fits on the front and back of a page of paper.

  2. Beautiful graphics and such clear instructions - the best I've seen! Thanks for your efforts and obvious expertise.

  3. Your graphics are superb Jeny. I'm about to try it.... yikes...

  4. I love your blog and was glad to find a new post - please keep writing!! Judy's cast on is my favorite and your illustrations and improvements make it easier than ever! Thank you!

  5. Jeny, I have to second what everyone has said. You're graphics make everything so clear, and this tweaking is wonderful. My toe-up socks and my shawls now finish with such a subtle wonderful stretch, I don't dread that last row any more!!

  6. Sorry, I can't get it! At least not from the pictures.....its the "swing" part....need an action shot....can you post a video???

  7. Thank you! I hardly ever knit socks and especially toe up. I've struggled with this cast on. It seemed so awkward to me because the instructions always show needles being moved instead of hand (which seems wrong to me being a continental knitter). This method and clear instructions has made it a breeze.

  8. I too just had to comment.

    Thank you so much for posting this improvement and the original as well. I've made several pairs of toe up socks using your cast on and looked back at it a few minutes ago for a top down hat. I've recommended it to several others who found it very helpful also!

  9. Boiled down:
    tail =index
    working yarn=thumb

    thumb: behind bottom in front of top
    index: front of bottom, behind the top

  10. It is a great gift for all knittes. Even when you´re
    knittet since 30 yaers, with the Internet, there are
    so much new tecnikes to discover and the
    "magic cast on" is one of it. Many thank´s for it.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. I'll try this again and actually include the link!

    I love this! So clear and uh.. understandable! I still like a page in front of me when I'm learning - or working for that matter. Anyway, I've taken the liberty of formatting it for printing. The only change was the lead-in text which I had to crop to make the images flow better. I invite Jeny - and any of you for that matter - to have a look and make sure I got it right and that it makes sense. And assuming it's okay, please feel free to download and/or link at will. Here is the link:


  13. Thanks for the lovely formatted PDF, GM! Perfect for putting it in my iTouch. And of course thanks, Jeny, for the original post and helpful diagrams.

  14. Great instructions, super easy to follow - thanks so much for sharing!! Used this technique in combination with 1/2 magic loop to do seamless hood cast on for Sturgeon sweater.

  15. I'm trying to learn Judy's method for a pair of toe-up socks but am having trouble when I knit the first cast on stitch. I can knit the first row but when I get to the first cast on stitch, it's a big loop instead of a stitch like all the others. Do you know what I could be doing wrong? Thanks!

    1. It's just because it's the first stitch you cast on. Just pull on the tail and it will tighten. Once you're further along you can weave it into the inside of the sock

  16. Thank you. This is so much clearer than videos. Trying to listen to the voices and match them to the actions really puts me off.

  17. I've tried it and the yarn goes every which way. The working yarn seems to become the tail and vice versa. The theory of this cast on is good but it doesn't work for me.

    1. Practice with two separate colors as shown in the drawings.

  18. Hi Jeny. Thank you for your wonderful sock patterns. Can I ask a stupid question? Wraptor - when casting on, does the F number of needles go on both needles or is it divided between them. So, do I cast on 44 or 88 over the needles? Many thanks for your help. X

  19. Wow, you made this amazingly clear. Thank you very much for taking the time & trouble to help me and others understand this cast on.

  20. This is so clear. I can picture how this works even though I read it without needles or yarn in my hands!

  21. Thank you for publishing your illustrations! It saves my non-knitting husband from taking the bits and pieces of instructions and videos and creating something I can take with me away from my computer and understand.

    We moved to Georgia a few years ago from Seattle. I learned to knit socks there because wool socks are warm in the rain. I still prefer wool socks, but there's no finding pretty wool socks in the South so I knit by own. I prefer toe-up but because I couldn't figure out the cast-on would start after the toe with a provisional cast on, then knit the toe last finishing with Kitchner Stitch. Your well-illustrated instructions will end that starting tonight.

  22. Only one that I finally did! Thank you!

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