Provisional I-cord Tab Cast On

I know, I know. Most knitters dread techniques that can be somewhat fiddly, and this tutorial combines two techniques that are well known for being somewhat of a pain: not only is this an i-cord tab cast on, but it’s also a provisional cast on. Yikes, right?

I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. Plus, it’s really pretty!

Image Description: A close-up of the beginning of Hearthfire, which uses a provisional i-cord tab cast on.
Image Description: A close-up of the edge of Hearthfire, where the i-cord runs continuously up both edges.

This cast on is my favorite for asymmetrical shawls knit on the bias because it gives you a continuous i-cord edge that is sturdy, stretchy, and polished. I use it in my Hearthfire, Hearthstone, and Frostfall (to be published in late November) patterns.

If you’ve never done a provisional cast on before, I encourage you to look at this video tutorial from Purl Soho or this one from Sister Mountain. I plan to add a photo tutorial of my own here eventually but, as you can see, my blog is still in its infancy.

Note: The tutorial below uses the stitch counts needed for Hearthfire and Frostfall. You may need to make a shorter/longer tab and pick up fewer/more stitches along the i-cord depending on your particular pattern’s instructions; however, the overall technique is the same.

Using waste yarn, provisionally cast on three stitches

Step 1: With working yarn, knit those three stitches.
Step 2: With yarn in back, slip all stitches purl-wise back to your left needle. Then, knit those three stitches.
Repeat Step 2 four more times (you will have worked Step 2 a total of five times).
At the beginning of the next row, knit the three stitches as you have previously, but this time don’t slip the stitches back to your left needle. This time, after knitting the three stitches, turn your work 90 degrees to the right.
Pick up and knit four stitches along the i-cord edge.
You will have a total of seven stitches on your needles.
Undo your provisional cast on and place the three live stitches on your left needle. Then knit those three stitches.
You will have ten total stitches on your needles.
Et voilà! This is what your provisional i-cord tab cast on should look like when you’re done.

I’ll admit that it is a bit fiddly the first time or two, but it gets much easier and faster with a bit of practice. And just look at how pretty the beginning of Frostfall is!

Are you making the Frostfall shawl? Here are a few more tutorials you may find helpful:

Published by lakeboundknits

Designing knitting patterns is a tangible way to express myself. Each pattern is a reflection of part of my soul and contains bits of my joy, sadness, fears, and hopes. My heart belongs on the shores of Lake Superior and most of my pattern designs are inspired by life "Up North."

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