How To Knit The Alternating Cable Cast On Tutorial

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There are so many fabulous ways to cast on for your knitting projects. Sometimes we need a quick and easy cast on, and sometimes we a need a specific cast on to fit the pattern.

The alternating cable cast on is great for stitch patterns where you have a combination of knit and purl stitches. This technique sets ups the alternating knits and purls of the rib stitch pattern perfectly.

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to cast on using this method to set your 1 x 1 ribbing up beautifully so you can try it on your next project!

Stitches on knitting needle with alternating cable cast on.

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Yarn, hooks and needles on white table.

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This cast on also works well for patterns that use seed stitches as you also have alternating knit and purl stitches.


You can use any weight yarn and matching needle size. In this tutorial I’m using:


This cast on can be used when knitting flat and in the round.

If working 1 x 1 ribbing in the round be sure to cast on an even number of stitches. Join as you would normally in the round. Then proceed with your ribbing knit 1, purl 1 around.

Depending on your pattern, or how you want your 1 x 1 ribbing worked flat to look, you make opt for the start and end of the row to have a knit stitch so cast on an odd number of stitches. If you cast on an even number for 1 x 1 rib (worked flat) you will have a knit to start and a purl to end.

Swatch of knit ribbing on needles .

Notice how the knits blends right in with cast-on edge.

Swatch of ribbing on needle.

This cast-on also gives you a nice edge whether you are looking at the right side or the wrong side of the fabric which is nice with reversible patterns.

Skill Level


Stitches / Abbreviations

US Terms

CO – cast on

k – knit

p – purl


How to make a slip knot.

We’ll use the knitted cast on to start.

If you’re familiar with the cable cast on then learning this one will be easy.


Watch how to make this cast on in the video tutorial on my YouTube.

Stitches on knitting needle with alternating cable cast on.

How to Knit Alternating Cable Cast On

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $1

Learn how to knit the alternating cable cast for ribbing.


  • Any yarn & matching needles. I'm using Lion Brand’s Wool Ease Thick and Quick #6 super bulky weight yarn (80% Acrylic; 20% Wool, 87 yd (80 m) per 140 g skein) in shade Fossil.


  • 9 mm (US Size 13) 36” circular needle.


  1. Make a slip knot and place it on your left-hand needle. This counts as the first cast-on stitch. SInce the slip knot has a bump, we'll use it as a purl stitch.Slip knot on needle.
  2. Now we'll use the knitted cast on to make our second stitch. Insert your right-hand needle tip in the stitch knitwise.Right needle inserted to knit.
  3. Wrap the yarn counter clockwise around the right needle and pull up a long loop, but don't slip it off the needle.Loop pulled up on right needle.
  4. Slip this loop back on to the left needle. This counts as our knit stitch. And we're set up to begin the alternating cable cast on. From here we'll be inserting our needle between the stitches like in the cable cast on.
  5. For the next stitch we need a purl, so we'll bring the working yarn to the front, insert the needle between these 2 sts from the back to the front. Now wrap the yarn over the right needle Right needle inserted from back to front with yarn wrapped over for purl. and pull up a loop as you would to purl, but don't slide the stitch off the needle, instead slip it back on to the left needle. You've cast on a purl stitch.3 stitches on left needle.
  6. Next with the yarn in the back, insert the right needle between the last 2 sts from the front to the back, wrap the yarn over the needle Needle inserted from front to back. and pull up a loop, slide it on to the left needle. You've cast on a knit stitch.A loop pulled up on the right needle.
  7. Repeat steps 5 - 6 until the last stitch is cast on. Stitches on knitting needle with alternating cable cast on.
  8. Here we're looking at the front of the work and you can see the purl bumps will be further back and the knit stitches will stick out more. Stitches labeled with purl or knit for alternating cable cast on.
  9. Now you're ready to start the first row of ribbing: purl 1, knit 1 repeat. First of 1x1 ribbing.
  10. Then on the next row you'lll just keep knitting the knits and purling the purls.

Alternating Cable Cast On In The Round

For knitting this cast on in the round you need to start with an even number, or stitch multiple of 2.

Follow the same cast on instructions above from steps 1 - 8.

Set up for magic loop, knit the first stitch, purl the next. When you knit the first stitch it will automatically join your knitting in the round.

And now you just proceed with working your ribbing, alternating between knits and purls.

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