How to Do the German Twisted Cast On

German Twisted Cast

Kara / Flickr / CC By 2.0

Casting on is the technique for starting new stitches and is essential in starting any knitting. There are many ways to cast-on, all varyin in look, style, and tension of the final result. The German Twisted cast-on, sometimes referred to as the Old Norwegian cast-on, starts much the same way as the long-tail cast on, but with a twist to both its method and end result. The stitches made by using the long-tail method end up looking different on each side; with this cast-on the stitches look the same on both sides and they don't curl!

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Knitting needles in size appropriate for yarn
  • Scissors


  • Smooth yarn in light or bright color


  1. Preparing to Cast On

    As with the long-tail cast-on, the German Twisted Cast-On requires two strands of yarn. Measure out a long tail based on the number of stitches you need, let's say 20 for learning the cast-on.

    • Make a slip knot and position the yarn in your left hand, tail end facing front, wrapped around your thumb, and ball end over your index finger. Hold the needle in your right hand.
    Positioning the yarn
    The Spruce / Sarah White
  2. Under the Thumb Strands

    For the long-tail cast-on, you would go under the front strand on your thumb and up in front of the back thumb strand, thereby creating a half-hitch on the needle. To begin forming the stitch in German twisted cast-on, you do something a little different.

    • Bring the needle under both thumb strands to start.
    Setting up the stitch
    The Spruce / Sarah White
  3. Over and Down Through the Loop

    The loop around your thumb is going to end up around the base of the new stitch, so you need to go into it to start, and you'll come back out of it to finish.

    • Give the needle a little twist and dive it down between the strands on your thumb, then forward to come out underneath the front thumb strand.
    Going through the loop
    The Spruce / Sarah White
  4. Around the Index Finger Strand

    Now you need to get the yarn that will become the stitch from around your index finger.

    • Take the needle backward over the top of all the strands, behind the front index finger strand, then forward such that the yarn ends up over the needle. Think of the needle as rotating clockwise over the index strand.
    Grabbing the ball-end yarn
    The Spruce / Sarah White
  5. Back The Way You Came

    Now you need to reverse direction with the needle, bringing the wrap—the new stitch—with it. Look closely at the strand that is wrapped around your thumb. See the "X" formed where the yarn crossed itself? That is the thumb loop with a twist in it. That X is where your needle needs to go next.

    • Keeping the wrap on the needle, bring the needle through the space just to the right of the X.

    In effect, you are going under the front thumb strand, over the back thumb strand, under both, and forward.

    Slipping through the X
    The Spruce / Sarah White licensed
  6. Finish and Reset

    Don't pull tightly here, or you will end up with tight stitches. Check the finished stitch can slide easily back and forth on the needle.

    • Slip your thumb out of the loop around it, then insert it back between the tail and working yarn, and move it forward. Moving your thumb forward will tighten down the yarn around the base of the stitch, as well as reset your hand to its starting position.


    If you tend to be a tight knitter, try casting on with a needle one size larger than the size called for in your pattern. You can switch back to the needle specified once your cast-on is complete and you are ready to begin knitting.

    The stitch on the needle
    The Spruce / Sarah White licensed
  7. Cast On More Stitches

    Keep going in the exact same way until you have the number of stitches called for by your pattern. Remember that the slip knot counts as a stitch.

    It can be helpful to find videos of the cast-on in action to see the motion of the fingers and movement of the yarn. Local yarn stores are always a helpful resource too; ask if yours has someone who can teach this cast-on.

    A finished bunch of German twisted cast on stitches
    The Spruce / Sarah White licensed