How to Do the German Twisted Cast-on

Hands Knitting the German Twisted Cast-On

The Spruce Crafts / Mollie Johanson

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

If you need a stretchy edge for your knitting, learn how German twisted cast-on could be the right choice for you! Also known as the Old Norwegian cast-on, his method is similar to the long-tail cast-on, but with a literal twist.

Different types of knitting projects require different ways of adding stitches and as you become a more experienced knitter, it's good to add these methods to your knitting skills. German twisted cast-on creates an edge that stretches well and looks the same from the front and back. It's ideal for hat brims and starting top-down socks.

It's helpful to know how to do the long-tail cast-on before you try this method so you are familiar with how to hold the yarn and needle. That said, the German twisted cast-on feels a little awkward at first. Start out slow, following each step and paying attention to the direction you move the needle in and around the yarn. Soon you'll be twisting and casting on like a pro!

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Knitting needles in size appropriate for yarn
  • Scissors


  • Smooth yarn in light or bright color


  1. Prepare to Cast on

    To get started, you need only one of your knitting needles. This method uses a long tail, so you need to estimate how much yarn you need for the tail. If you need to cast on a lot of stitches and you want to avoid the frustration of possibly having a tail that's too short, you can use the method that starts with two strands of yarn.

    Begin with a slip knot on the needle.

    Slip Knot on One Knitting Needle
    Mollie Johanson

    Hold the yarn like a slingshot with the long tail looped over your thumb. Drape the two strands of yarn over your thumb and index finger and then hold it taut with the rest of your fingers.

    Hold the slip knot in place with your index finger as you hold the knitting needle.

    This is the same way you hold the two strands of yarn for a long-tail cast-on.

    Holding the Yarn in a Slingshot Formation
    Mollie Johanson
  2. Bring the Needle Under the Thumb Loop

    Dip the needle around and under both strands of yarn that are wrapped around your thumb.

    Dip the Needle Under the Thumb Loops
    Mollie Johanson
  3. Bring the Needle Through the Loop

    To complete the twist, insert the needle down into the loop near your thumb. Catch the side of the yarn loop that's away from you and then bring it up toward you.

    Bring the Needle Through the Thumb Loop
    Mollie Johanson
  4. Dip the Needle Under the Finger Loop

    Next, bring the needle to the outside of the yarn looped around your finger. Dip the needle under the yarn to catch it.

    Dip the Needle Under the Finger Strand
    Mollie Johanson
  5. Pass the Needle Through the Twisted Gap

    Bring the needle with the yarn toward you and draw it through the small gap in the twisted loop from your thumb.

    Depending on how you are holding your yarn and the tension on the twist, it can be tricky to spot this little window at first. It will be close to the slip stitch (or previous stitch as you add more stitches). As you become familiar with the process, it gets easier to see where to draw the needle through.

    Draw the Yarn Through the Small Twist
    Mollie Johanson
  6. Tighten the Stitch

    Once the yarn is through the twisted gap, let the loop of yarn drop from your thumb. Use your thumb and finger to pull the strands of yarn, tightening the newly cast-on stitch.

    The stitch should be able to slide freely on the needle, without looking or feeling too loose.

    Position the strands of yarn over your thumb and finger again, just as they were when you started. As you get into the rhythm of casting on, your thumb will naturally start to go from dropping the loop to tightening the new stitch to finally returning to the starting position.

    Drop the Loop on the Thumb and Tighten the Stitch
    Mollie Johanson
  7. Add More Stitches

    Repeat the steps above to add more stitches to your needle.

    Because this cast-on method twists the loop to add stretch, it's possible and even likely that your yarn will be affected by this. Watch for untwisting and pause to fix it when necessary.

    Add More German Twisted Cast-On stitches
    Mollie Johanson

    There are several methods for working this cast-on, including one where you make the twist with your thumb, but this version is a little easier to see and learn. Even still, it takes a bit of practice to build up a rhythm or muscle memory. As you practice, you'll find a motion that's comfortable for you.

    German Twisted Cast-On Stitches on a Needle
    Mollie Johanson