Learn Judy’s Magic Cast On

Bumps on knitted socks and bags vanish when you learn Judy’s Magic Cast On.

Cast On Bind Off

“Cast On, Bind Off” presents more than 50 ways to cast on and bind off, creating edges that are tighter, looser, stretchier, lacier, longer-lasting, prettier or whatever your project needs.

Cover Courtesy Storey Publishing

Content Tools

Judy’s Magic Cast On is a way to cast on for enclosed objects invisibly, allowing you to make a clean start on toe-up socks, top-down hats and more. Expand your knitting repertoire and thumb through Leslie Ann Bestor’s Cast On, Bind Off (Storey Publishing, 2012). This one-of-a-kind reference teaches how to choose — and execute — the most appropriate, functional and effective means of creating professional and beautiful edges for any number of knitting projects. This excerpt is taken from the chapter “Double-Sided Cast Ons.” 

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Cast On, Bind Off.

Judy’s Magic Cast On

This wonderful cast on is the invention of Judy Becker, who generously gave me permission to include it here. It is a way to cast on for an enclosed object, such as the toe of a sock or the bottom of a bag — invisibly! Therein lies the magic. I also find it neater than the Turkish and Figure 8 cast ons. It is possible to start this cast on with a slip knot on the top needle, though I’ve found that little knot bothers some people; it can be a bit looser than the surrounding stitches. But if it makes it easier or less confusing for you, go ahead and use a slip knot instead of wrapping the yarn as described here.

Extras Two same-size circular needles


• Neat “edge”
• Invisible on both sides
• No gap between first rows of knitting

Good for

• Toe-up socks
• Bags
• Top-down hats and mittens

Working the Cast On

1. Hold the two needles together with your right hand, tips pointing left.

2. Loop the yarn around the top needle, with the tail sandwiched between the top needle and the bottom needle and coming out the back. The tail should have approximately 3/4” for each stitch you are casting on. The working yarn will go over the top needle (See Image Gallery).

3. Pick up the yarns with your left hand in the slingshot position, with the tail over your index finger and the working yarn over your thumb. This twists the yarns and creates a loop on the top needle that counts as the first stitch (See Image Gallery).

4. While holding the stitch in place with a finger on your right hand, rotate the pair of needles up and wrap the yarn on your finger around the bottom needle, as if making a yarnover. Gently tighten the loop (See Image Gallery).

5. Rotate the pair of needles downward and wrap the thumb yarn around the top needle as if making a yarnover. Gently tighten the loop (See Image Gallery).

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to cast on the desired number of stitches. Alternate between top and bottom needles, with thumb yarn wrapping around top needle and finger yarn wrapping around bottom needle. End with step 4.

Beginning to Knit

7. Turn the needles so that the bottom one is on top and the yarn ends on the right. Drop the tail and bring the working yarn up behind the top needle. Make sure the tail lies under the working yarn, between it and the needle (See Image Gallery). This twists the yarns so you can knit the first stitch. Knit the first row. The first stitch may become a little loose; just pull on the tail to tighten it (See Image Gallery).

8. Turn needles at end of first row and knit the next row (the second half of the first round).

Want to learn another kind of cast on? Learn how to create strong, stretchy and decorative edges in Learn the Channel Island Cast On.

Excerpted from Cast On, Bind Off © Leslie Ann Bestor, photography © John Polak used with permission from Storey Publishing.