Partial stitch structure post: (k1, p1, k1) along another strand of yarn

So far as I know, this isn’t a real cast-on, but I wanted to show the structure of the particular sequence from (k1, p1, k1) in one stitch with more room, so I’ve drawn this by analogy with the looping provisional cast-on. The next post in this series will show how to use this technique as an increase.

This is one of my series of posts illustrating the path that yarn takes through various techniques. They don’t explain how to do the techniques because there are lots of tutorials for most techniques online already, but not so many discussing the structures. I’m guessing there’s not a tutorial for this, but if you look up (k1, p1, k1) in one stitch, it’s much the same method.

My other stitch structure posts can be found in my stitch structure tag or from the stitch structure link at the top of this page.


  1. I am not showing needles in the stitches as I feel they make it harder to see the fabric structure.
  2. The yarn is drawn to be much thinner relative to the stitch size than would be practical for actual knitting. This helps make it easier to see the structure, but it doesn’t look exactly like the final knitting.
  3. I’m going to refer to two strands of yarn in this post. There’s a photo of a finished row of this cast-on on the needles at the end of this post which I am providing because there’s probably not existing pictures online.
  4. Reasons why I think this wouldn’t be a good cast-on: it’s not stretchy, and the extra coils wrapped around the base yarn would make it trickier to use in any situation where the looping provisional cast-on would be useful.
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Figure 1
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Figure 1: There is a horizontal light green strand shown in this image: it could be smooth waste yarn, a circular needle cable, or some other smooth tube. The end on the right is held together with the knitting needle (whether with a slip knot or by holding it with the right hand). I am going to refer to this as the support yarn from now on.

The working yarn (drawn in dark green) that is used to make the stitches is attached to a needle off-screen. There could even already be existing stitches.

Pretend that the light green support yarn is the head of a knitting stitch from a previous row, which is to say, the horizontal bit at the top. If you pull a knit stitch under it, it will look like the illustration above: the two ends of the dark yarn are above and behind the light green, a dark green loop has been pulled under and then up in front of the dark green.

So far this is all the same as the looping provisional cast on, but the next step is where this starts to go differently.

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Figure 2
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Figure 2: The next stitch is a purl stitch, so the working yarn needs to be brought to the front of the work. In this situation, that means the working yarn comes over the top of the support yarn, ready to be pulled through to make a purl. (There are a few knitting techniques that make the purl stitch differently, but the end result is the same, so skip ahead.)

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Figure 3
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Figure 3: A loop has been pulled under and to the back of the work, forming a purl stitch. Because of the way the working yarn was brought to the front and then pulled through, it wraps once around the support yarn.

The way the tail is drawn is a little ambiguous because it’s two dimensional, but the working yarn is still at the front of the work.

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Figure 4
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Figure 4: The next stitch is a knit stitch, so the working yarn (drawn in dark green) needs to be taken to the back of the work. It goes back over the top of the support yarn, this time twisting around in the opposite direction.

Digression: If you’re familiar with spinning terminology, the little wrap between knit and purl is S-twist, and the one between purl and knit is Z-twist. So far as I know, this is only relevant in the situation where knits and purls alternate along a strand of yarn instead through separate stitches.

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Figure 5: The working yarn has been pulled forward under the support yarn and then up to make a knit stitch. There is a row of three dark green stitches wrapped around the light green support yarn. All the stitches are anchored along the bottom edge. There is a coil wrapped around the support yarn between each stitch.

Let’s compare this to the looping provisional cast-on.

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Figure 6
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Figure 6: The looping provisional cast-on (knit 1, yarnover, knit 1) is shown above a variant that uses (knit 1, purl 1, knit 1) instead. In both cases there are three loops of yarn: the two knit loops sit in front of the support yarn and the middle loop sits behind.

The difference is what happens between stitches. In the case of (k1, yo, k1), the working yarn is folded under the support yarn between each stitch but doesn’t otherwise wrap around it. In the case of (k1, p1, k1) , the working yarn is wrapped around the support yarn an extra time between each stitch.

Another way to think about it is that if you ignore the existence of the invisible knitting needle, you can turn the yarnover version into the purl version by wrapping the yarnover an extra time around the support yarn. It’s as if it did a somersault around it!

My next stitch structure post will discuss how this looks as a double increase when used instead of (knit 1, yarnover, knit 1) in one stitch.