Alternating Cable Cast On


You ever discover something new–something you’ve never heard of before–and then it’s suddenly everywhere?  That happened to me this weekend with a new cast on…the Alternating Cable Cast On!  It sounds fancy but turns out, I knew how to execute it already!

I was going to start a hat anyhow, so might as well try something new!  This is the beginning of the Hillary hat.  Nothing fancy, just a boring grey stockinette hat with 1×1 ribbing to start.


The alternate part of the Alternate Cable Cast On, refers to alternating knits & purls…aka ribbing!  It creates a lovely seamless edge.  It’s a derivative of the Cable Cast On.  It’s got the same firm, stable edge with the necessary stretch for a cuff or hat coming from the knit/purl repeats.  This would be the perfect substitution for the Tubular Cast On, which I’ve never bothered with.  It’s always sounded complicated and I’m a lazy knitter!

Here’s a side by side comparison, Alternate Cable Cast On at the top, a standard Long Tail Cast On on the bottom.  Clearly, this is a minute detail being scrutinized but that’s what separates handmade from homemade.


So how does one do the Alternate Cable Cast On?  It’s essentially the Cable Cast On with one modification…you alternate knits and purls!  Duh.  So simple it’s brilliant!  And entirely obvious, or at least it should have been!

Start with a slip knot — that’s your first stitch.  Second stitch is ‘Knit On’ (meaning you knit the slip knot and put the new stitch back on the left needle.) Now with two stitches on the needle you can begin the Cable Cast On, which is just like Knitting On, except instead of inserting your needle into the second stitch, you insert your needle between your first and second stitch, knit it and place the new stitch back on the left hand needle.

Now it’s time to begin the alternating part…next stitch is purled.  Insert your needle between two stitches again but this time, insert from the back to the front AKA insert purl-wise.  Lather-Rinse-Repeat.  Continue to cast on in the cable style between stitches rather than through them and alternate between knit & purl.

Viola!  New trick up my sleeve…perfect for making a sleeve!

It’s not quite the same for 2×2 ribbing, that’s where the technique gets a little more complicated.  I tried to wing it on a little swatch.


The yellow is my attempt, the blue/purple is a standard Long Tail Cast On.  Turns out, you can use an Alternate Cable Cast On for 2×2 ribbing, but you’ve gotta do some extra manipulations.  You cast on the same, but your first row of knitting involves swapping stitch positions, like working a twist.

But I’m a lazy knitter and I’ve got stockinette in the round to knit so I’m saving the proper 2×2 technique for some other time!  One new cast on is enough to for today!  It’s only Monday after all…



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