The alternating cable cast on is a beautiful invisible cast on that looks great with ribbing. The edges of the cast on elegantly merge right into the knits and purls, giving the illusion of no cast on at all.
The alternating cable cast on is also quite stretchy, making it nicely suited for ribbing. In fact, I sometimes refer to it as my “ribbing cast on”!
While this cast on is more advanced than a long tail cast on, it’s a great technique to use for hats, mittens, socks and sweater sleeves. It’s a bit tricky at first, but once you get it, it’ll be hard not to whip it out for all your ribbing needs.
Try out the technique and take it slow. Rewatch parts of the video above if you need. This is a cast on where video will be a huge help.
Because this is a rib cast on, you’ll be casting on one stitch knit-wise and one stitch purl-wise. You’ll alternate between a knit cast on and a purl cast on. Once you’ve reached the number of cast ons you need, your cast on row will look something like this:
Tips for a Successful Cast On:
If you forget whether you’ve just cast on knit-wise or purl-wise, just look to the working yarn.
If the working yarn is behind two stitches, this means that your last cast on was purl-wise. If your working yarn is coming out from the first stitch, then that stitch was cast on knitwise.
When casting on, remember to push the right needle between the first and second stitch. This is true for a knit or purl cast on. For a knit cast on, keep the working yarn in the back. For a purl cast on, keep the working yarn in the front.
For 1×1 Cast On:
Since the alternating cable cast on is already set up in a k1, p1 configuration, you can start row one by working the 1×1 rib right away. Just remember: if the last cast on stitch was a knit cast on, then knit that stitch. If it was a purl cast on, then purl the stitch.
For 2×2 Cast On:
Set up for the 2×2 rib is trickier. Because the cast on is set up in in a k1, p1 configuration, we’ll need to shuffle the stitches around so they work for a 2×2 rib.
Watch the video at the 7:44 mark for a detailed demo on how to shuffle the cast on stitches around.
Follow this repeat for Row 1 to set up 2×2 rib: *k1, swap 2, k1, p2; repeat from * to end of row
Alternating Cable Cast On in the Round:
It’s tough to join in the round on round one. I find it’s much easier to knit the first row flat and then join together on the second round. Use the yarn tail from the cast on to weave the gap together for a seamless finish.
How could I do this for a 3×3 rib?
Shaista Khan says
Is there a video for instructions on how to join in the round after knitting the first row flat? I’m a beginner knitter and have never done that before.
Oops! Sorry for the late reply. In this fisherman’s rib pattern video I go over how to join in the round after casting on with the alternating cable cast on. The video is here. Skip to the 19:50 mark for joining in the round: https://youtu.be/b8A0bhqt7J8
Hi Davina. I feel like I know you since I’ve watched your videos to learn how to knit. That was a year ago and it’s been a fun ride so far. So thank you! My question is: is this the same as the Italian tubular cast on? If so, other videos show it done another way. Your version appears to be easier.
Hi Liz! This cast on is not the same as the Italian tubular cast on. In fact, it’s not a tubular cast on at all! But it produces a similar effect. It’s quicker than most tubular cast ons, so it’s a bit of a “cheat” cast on!
Yes, it’s not bad at all! I’ve been practicing this alternating cable cast-on method (acco?) for the last couple hours (it’s 2am here but I can’t stop casting on!) and it’s fairly easy. The Italian cast on looked miserable so I was not looking forward to trying it. Thanks for this “cheat”, Davina. And for all your other very cool instructional videos.
Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! Do you know of a similar cast on that works for a K2 P1 ribbing?
Your tutorial is great, thank you! I am making a hat with 2×3 ribbing (casting on 120 stitches). Can this rib cast on work for that? It really makes a beautiful edge. I appreciate any help. thank you!
Janet Saggus says
This is the most excellent tip ever.. I have been knitting for over 60 years and to think I have made countless hats etc not using this amazing cast on. It’s fantastic.. I will use this now on everything .. thank you so much .. Janet
Australia 🇦🇺 👌
Amy Coppola says
I’m confused about joining this in the round… you say to “knit the first row flat and then join together on the second round”. Are you referring to the cast on row or the gymnastics row as row 1? I’m making a 2×2 rib hat in the round. Help!
Hello, I just tried this for a cuff, and I love it. However, This pattern is for a cuff to cuff shrug, and I realize, I will be binding off for the second cuff. Is there a matching bind off?
Thank you, this is my daily duh moment. Hate to rip it out and start again.
I’m also curious if there is a matching bind off please 🙂 This is a beautiful cast on.