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Invisible Cast -On

CallieH11 | Posted in Knitting and Crochet on

I have a pattern for socks knit from the toe up that requires a cast on method I don’t understand.  Anyone have any great insights or hints for mastering this?


  1. Jean | | #1

    Can you give more details?

    1. CallieH11 | | #2

      I am trying to make a pair of socks from a pattern by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts.  The directions are:  "You will need a smooth, slick waste yarn for this.  I use a braided nylon cord (called "ravel cord") used for similar purposes by machine knitters.  Tie the cord and the sock yarn together with an overhand knot.  Do not pull the knot tight as you will need to remove it when the toe is finished.  using the smaller set of needles, cast on the required number of stitches (50% of circumference). 

      1.  With needle in the right hand, position knot on needle with the sock yarn over the top of the needle, the waste yarn behind.

      2.  Tension waste yearn on index finger, sock yarn over thumb on the left hand.  Pivot needle behind the was yarn to pick up a look with the sock yarn.

      3.  Pivot needle to the front of the wast yarn to pick up a loop with the sock yarn.

      Continue in this manner until half of the circumference stitches have been mounted on the needle.  You will have an equal number of stitches on the cord (heel/toe stitches=50% of C).

      4.  At the end, turn, securely tucking the waste yarn over the sock yarn to hold it in position until the first stitch is knit.  The stitches on the needle are those on which the toe is shaped; those onthe waste yarn are the stitches that will take the completed toe into the round for the foot of the sock.

      Help---can you translate this into beginner sock language?

      Thank you for any help.


      Edited 12/10/2002 10:55:47 PM ET by CallieH

      1. Jean | | #3

        I'm  tryin to load a couple of diagrams that may help  you more than  an explanation.

        The   foundation yarn in the diagram is the one wrapped around the thumb, the colors don't show up here.

        Oops, I'd better post the text too.

        A looped cast on    employs one needle and two  yarn lengths. One forms a foundation and the other is wrapped around it. If the foundation yarn is  removed stitches can be picked up for knitting or grafting. Left intact the edge is very flexible, especially  suited to cotton yarns which have limited flexibility.

        Oh, nuts!  I just noticed I posted the colored illustration upside down!  I'm so sorry!

        I hope this helps.

        (The ravel cord that machine knitters use is a very strong but slippery nylon cord.)  

        Edited 12/10/2002 11:48:28 PM ET by Jean

      2. rjf | | #4

        Other sources, if you can find them, are the Aug/Sept 1987  and the Feb/March 1988 issues of Threads.  Good text and pictures.  I'm not sure of the issue numbers.  In the same issue is a way to cast off that gives an edge that expands with the ribbing but doesn't stretch out.  It looks exactly like the cast on.  At last! Sweaters whose necklines are where they should be because you can get your head through them.                     rjf  

        1. CallieH11 | | #5

          Thanks for your help, this is my first venture to this site which is amazing.  It is even better than my mother because everyone is so CLOSE.  I appreciate your research for me on this.


          1. ElonaM | | #6

            Here's a great series of photos showing the toe-up method:


            Certainly the best illustrations I've ever seen of the process!

          2. Jean | | #8

            Oooo I  wanted to print out those pages but the photos would not print.  Has anyone had success doing this? Thanks  for   posting the site, Elona, very interesting.

          3. ElonaM | | #10

            Yeah, I got the whole thing printed. It was a bit of a chore for me, since I'm not at all high tech (use an iMac, for gosh sakes), and there's probably an easier way to do it. Still, here's what I did:

            First, I made a Word document, then I counted all the pictures I needed to copy, and inserted into the Word document a "table" with the right number of cells.

            Then I copied all the images. With a Mac, all you do is put your cursor over a picture, hold down the mouse, and "drag" the picture over to the desktop. Letting them go there usually turns them into something called a jpg (those three letters--.jpg--appear in the label that shows up beneath the image). JPEGs, with that label. can then be copied to a word document by dragging them to the place you want them to be, and dropping them there.

            The last step was to highlight and copy the text for each photo, and then transfer it to the appropriate cell in the table. Finally, I "saved" the whole thing, so I wouldn't lose it.

          4. Jean | | #12

            How would you like to do me a big favor and email your saved document to me?  I can't figure out what they did to make those pictures invisible to my printer. Could   you send it as an attachment?  I'd really be grateful.

            Edit to say thanks for the email. I appreciate your willingness to help.  Fixed my problem by rebooting this morning and it printed out just fine. :-)

            Edited 12/12/2002 12:39:56 PM ET by Jean

          5. CallieH11 | | #15

            Hi, Jean,

            Oooh, you are right about the Elona's pictures being great---I had no problems printing them.  Did you see the instructions for the cast on from Sanderson?


          6. Jean | | #16

            Yup, and   got everything printed out.  When in doubt -- reboot! :)

          7. rjf | | #19

            I printed out the directions for toe-up socks in flor.freeservers (don't remember the author's name but she was very clever).  But I've got a question maybe you could answer: she says she uses short rows but she doesn't knit the wraps when doing the second half of the toe.  Have you tried that?  I can't visualize how that would work and don't have sock yarn to try it right now (or time!) 

          8. Jean | | #20

            I haven't had the time to try it either, but just assumed it would be evident  what she means when I got there. Not exactly the time of year when I want to start a new project either.  :-)

          9. CallieH11 | | #14

            Thank you for the illustrated version of the toe up socks.  I never expected to hear from so many other knitters but I am really excited to begin knitting.


          10. rjf | | #21

            The site you mention is very good!  I printed out the directions for toe-up sox and it works very well but just now, when I wanted to print it again for a friend, the site had disappeared!  Do you know another way to access it?   rjf

          11. Jean | | #22

            Wow, is that a lesson or what! Glad that I also printed it out when I had the chance.  Well, the library has copy machines for you.

          12. ElonaM | | #23

            Apparently she has moved. Here are the instructions at her new website:


            I got to it by just knocking off the "toe-up" part of her old URL, and when I clicked on that, the "click here for new site" prompt came up on the screen.

          13. Jean | | #24

            Thanks.  More cool stuff!

          14. rjf | | #25

            Thanks very much!  I've been trying to conquer short rows for sock toes and heels.  Every set of directions seems to do it in different way and I don't yet feel comfortable with any of them but now that I've printed out the directions from flor.trix.net, I can try again. 

            One set says "don't knit the wrap" and the next one says "wrap twice and then knit the wraps".     The last thing I tried was a combination of flor.trix's toe-up with the short row method from wiseneedle.com.  Better, but not quite lump free.  It was interesting to see a sock whose toe was knit the same way as the heel.

             Has anybody found a good way?                                   rjf

  2. sanderson | | #7

    There are directions for making socks from the toe up...a traditional Turkish method...that starts with two double pointed needles.  Basically what you do is hold two of the needles parallel and wind the yarn back and forth, over and under the two needles making what looks like four stitches on each needle.  You start knitting in the round, adding a stitch after the first stitch and before the last stitch on each needle until you can go to four needles; when you get to the size you need to go around an instep you stop decreasing and get on with the pattern. 

    1. Jean | | #9

      Hi Sanderson, what's cookin'?  Oh, ja, I remember--lutefisk. :)

      I'm having a ball here--look what I found.


      1. rjf | | #11

        That's a great site and so is the one from Elona.  I've never seen socks done either way but it makes more sense than the techniques I've seen.  Thanks for sharing.   rjf

      2. sanderson | | #13

        Socks are my second favorite thing to knit...first is dishrags.  Socks never have to match as well as mittens and warm cozy feet are so appreciated.  Thanks for posting a variation on the no cast on beginning.  The toes in your example would probably fit better in 'mercun shoes;  the Turkish toes are pointy and quite cute in sandals.

        Edited 12/12/2002 9:58:48 PM ET by sanderson

    2. CallieH11 | | #17

      Thanks for your input.  This has been such a kick---what a neat way to learn a new technique.  Like I told Jean---I have to finish a baby quilt before I start on these socks but I am eager.


      1. Jean | | #18

        Keep us posted on your progress once  you begin.

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