Alternate Cable Cast-on

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The Alternate Cable Cast-on is another firm favourite!

It’s an incredibly quick ribbed cast-on that’s also very versatile. It’s based on the Cable Cast-on and Backwards Purl cast-on and is the method I recommend the most for ribbed Hats.

1) The alternate cable cast-on starts in exactly the same way as the cable cast-on: start with a slip knot on your left working needle.
2) (first stitch only) Insert the right needle behind the stitch knitwise and wrap yarn round needle to create a knit stitch.
3) Pull the yarn through as you create the new stitch.
4) And then place the new stitch back onto the left working needle.
5) Next, insert the needle behind the previous stitch (that is, between the previous stitch and the one before it) purlwise.
6) Wrap the yarn around the needle to create the next stitch.
7) Pull the loop through and place it onto the needle – you have just created a purl stitch.
8) Then we want to create a knit stitch – place the needle behind the previous stitch and wrap the yarn. Pull the loop through and place it up onto the needle – the next knit stitch is created.
9) Repeat steps 5 to 8, creating alternate knit and purl stitches, until you have the desired number of stitches. As you need an even number of stitches for 1 by 1 rib, you’ll end after a knit stitch.

You can see in the photo that you have created bumps and dips, which is the desired result.


As always, if you have a question about this technique or need some help with it, leave a comment below! I’m afraid I’m unable to offer help via email or private message, but you’re welcome to post in our forum.


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Woolly Wormhead


  1. Jan da Silva

    Can I do this as a continental knitter?

    • Woolly Wormhead

      Yes, you can! I’m not a continental knitter but when I’ve taught this method in my workshops and this question has come up, my continental knitting students found that they needed to take the yarn underneath when it needed to be changed between the knits and purls in the cast on.

      It’s a little more fiddly than doing the cast on english thrower style, but it will work!

  2. Amanda

    Thanks, I found this when I went looking for 1×2 rib and it is very easy when you get the hang of it (Continental) and no long tail!

    • Woolly Wormhead

      I’m glad it’s helpful! It is very quick when you get the hang of it

  3. Elliott

    Advice for when you are working on very small yarn? I can’t seem to get the right needle in between the left needle and the yarn after I wrap for the purl stitch.

    • Woolly Wormhead

      In my experience this usually happens when tension is tight.

      I’d suggest using a larger needle, either to create the stitches, or for holding the stitches. You could try both and see what works best for you, though I’ve found that having the larger needle as the right-hand needle is more effective.

      Once you get into the flow of it the stitches shouldn’t become too tight on the needle.

  4. Mary Jackson

    Amazing pattern and I just discovered this cast on, where have you been all my life lol. Game changer for me. I can’t wait to make this hat and try this caston. I can so see me using this in my sock knitting and fingerless mitts. Thanks for sharing and teaching!

    • Woolly Wormhead

      You’re most welcome 🙂

      It’s a fantastic cast on, I’ve no doubt you’ll find many uses for it! It’s so quick and stretchy, and there are several variations for it for different ribbings – win win!

  5. Ella

    I have a question re: using the alternating cast-on for a hat brim. I know I need an even number of stitches for 1X 1 ribbing, but I also cast on an extra stitch when joining in the round to create a jog less join. Would I add that extra stitch at the end of round 1 when knitting flat, before I join in the round?

    • Woolly Wormhead

      Whenever I teach this method, or any cast on for a Hat, I don’t recommend casting on an extra stitch to be decreased later.

      My suggestion would be to cast on the number of stitches you need, work the first row flat, and join in the round after that. Then use the yarn tail to sew the tiny gap later.

      Casting on an extra stitch doesn’t really work with this method, because of the way the knits and purls are created, and an extra stitch wouldn’t make it any more jogless. Whereas working the first row flat then using the yarn tail to close works perfectly every time.

  6. Stephanie

    Hello! Brand new knitter here, so please forgive me if these are silly questions 🙂

    When aiming for an even number of stitches, does the slip knot count as stitch one?

    After I knit/purl a row of stitches into the cast on, does row 2 begin with the same stitch row 1 ended on? Or the opposite stitch? (If my first knit/purl row after the cast-on ends in a knit, do I begin row 2 with a knit or a purl?)

    Thank you! 🙂

    • Woolly Wormhead

      hello there!

      Yes, the first slip knot counts as your first stitch – it counts as the first purl stitch, and the first stitch cast on after that is a knit stitch.

      After you’ve knit your first row, and assuming you’re working in the round, you’ll then join in the round and the first stitch will then be a knit stitch, so it’s opposite to what the first row ended on.

      Hope this helps!