To begin a knitted piece you need to cast on stitches.
As with everything there are several ways to go about this & each knitter will have their own way.
Thumb Cast On
I was taught to cast on stitches using the ‘thumb cast on’ by my mum.
It is a very easy way to cast on stitches.
1) Make a slip knot around the needle for your first loop & tighten it so it is loose enough to place a needle through for knitting.
2) Hold the tail end of the yarn in your right hand along with the needle.
3) Hold the working yarn in the palm of your left hand & place it around your thumb.
4) Pass the tip of the needle from front to back under the strand between your palm & your thumb.
5) Slip your thumb out of the loop.
6) Tighten the loop on the needle to make your second cast on stitch.
Hold the yarn in your left palm & pass the yarn around your thumb to repeat steps 4-6 to make the rest of your required cast on stitches.
Chain Edge Cast On
This method gives a more elastic edge to your knitting than the thumb cast on & is very similar to the action of knitting.
1) Make a slip knot around the needle for your first loop. Hold this needle in your left hand.
2) Hold the other needle along with the working yarn in your right hand as if to start knitting.
3) Insert the right needle through the loop & pass the yarn around it as if to knit.
4) Pull the yarn through the loop thus making a new loop on the right needle.
5) Place this new loop onto the left needle by inserting it through the front of the loop & withdrawing the right needle.
Re-insert the right needle into the second loop as in step 3. Repeat steps 3-5 to make the rest of your required cast on stitches.
Thumb Cast On Using Circular Needles
If you are using circular needles to knit a flat piece there is no difference in the way you would cast on with straight needles.
The difference comes when you are knitting a circular piece (in the round).
Once you have cast on your stitches follow these steps:
1) Cast on one more stitch than is required.
2) Slip the extra stitch from your right needle to your left.
3) Knit the extra stitch along with the 1st stitch cast on to create a joined circle of stitches.
Chain Edge Cast On Using Double Pointed Needles
There are some fiddley ways to try & cast on to four DPNs (believe me I’ve tried!) but the easiest way I’ve found is the following:
1) Cast on using the chain edge method all the stitches you require onto 1 straight needle. Then cast on an extra stitch.
2) Divide the stitches evenly across the four needles making sure the ‘extra’ stitch is on the last needle.
3) Slip the extra stitch from the last needle to the 1st.
4) Knit the extra stitch along with the 1st stitch cast on to create a joined circle of stitches.