Thursday 30 September 2021

Judy’s Magic Cast-On - the perfect way to start toe-up socks

Judy’s Magic Cast-On is my favourite cast-on method for knitting socks from the toe-up. It’s invisible from both the inside and the outside of the sock, and once you’ve done it a few times, it’ll be second nature to you.

You can work Judy’s Magic Cast-On using double-pointed needles (DPNs) or the magic loop technique. In the example, I use magic loop on a long circular needle.


Casting on

1. Hold two needle tips parallel to one another with the working tips pointing to the left.

2. Loop the yarn over the bottom needle, with the yarn tail (at least 30 cm, see Tips and Tricks section at the end for guidance) at the front of the needles and the yarn going to the ball at the back of the needles.

3. Crossing the yarn tail and the working yarn, wrap the working yarn over the top needle to create a stitch on the top needle.

4. Crossing the yarn tail and the working yarn, wrap the yarn tail round the bottom needle to create a stitch on the bottom needle.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have the required number of stitches on each needle. Looking at the back of your stitches, you should see a row of purl bumps.

Working the first round

1. Using the working yarn, knit the stitches on the first needle *through the back loop* - this untwists the stitches across the cast on edge. Note, most knitters find that they need to knit the first half of their stitches cast on using Judy’s Magic cast-on through the backs of the loops to untwist them, but you may not need to; if the first half of your stitches are not twisted, knit them as usual, not through the backs of the loops.

2. Knit the stitches on the second needle. You have completed your first round! Well done.


Tips and tricks

How long should your yarn tail be?

The length of yarn you leave as a yarn tail depends on how many stitches you are casting on. A simple rule is to have 2.5 cm (1 in) of yarn per stitch you’ll be casting on using the yarn tail (remember that only half the total number of stitches will be cast on using the yarn tail, the rest will come from the working yarn), plus 15 cm (6 in). If you want to be more accurate, take your yarn and your needles, leave a 15 cm (6 in) tail, then wrap the yarn around your needle tip once for each stitch. This should show you roughly how much yarn you’ll need for your cast-on.


Marking the start of the round

Once you’ve worked the first couple of rounds, you can use your yarn tail as a beginning of round marker. At the start of the round, simply take your yarn tail and pass it between the needle tips so it sticks out the side of your knitting. Knit as normal and the yarn tail will remind you which side of your knitting is the beginning of the round.

When you’ve finished knitting and no longer need the beginning of round marker, turn your knitting inside out, grab the vertical strand of yarn, and pull it back to the inside of the knitting.


What next?

Ready to try a pattern that uses Judy’s Magic Cast-On? Why not try:

Judy’s Magic Cast-On isn’t just for socks, it can be used for any double-sided knitting where you want an invisible cast-on, e.g. Elephant Parade* and Fantastical Foxes Set* – Judy’s Magic Cast-On is used to cast on the ears.

 *Ravelry link, may cause issues for people with photosensitivity. Proceed with caution. For alternative places to buy, check out my shop section.

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