A provisional cast on is a knitted cast on method that allows you to return to the cast on point of your work and easily pick up stitches to make them live again. Provisional cast ons are helpful when you want to work two separate pieces and seam them together. Or if you want to knit a garment and add a trim after the fact. In the case of the To Market, To Market Bag featured as our July 2017 project, a provisional cast on is employed so that you can knit the entirety of the bag in the round, and when you’re finished, remove the provisional cast on and seam the bottom of the bag closed.
How to Do a Provisional Cast On
Round up a piece of scrap yarn in a length long enough to accommodate the number of stitches the pattern instructs. You want your scrap yarn to be the same weight of yarn that the pattern calls for, but in a contrasting color to what you will be knitting with. A different color will allow you to easily pick up the proper stitches and pick out the scrap yarn when the time comes.
Cast on as the pattern instructs with your scrap yarn using a technique of your choice, like a long tail or crochet cast on.
After you cast on, drop your scrap yarn. Do not cut or weave in ends.
Then, pick up your main working yarn and knit across the stitches of your provisional cast on.
Your provisional cast on will stay in place as you continue to work your project. When it’s time to “cash in” your provisional cast on, the first row of stitches (which you see below in blue) will be picked up to become live stitches, and your scrap yarn will be picked out and tossed away.