Technique Tuesday – Chinese Waitress Cast-on

knitting and yarn for Technique Turesday 200 x 200What’s your favorite knitting cast on?  If you’re like me, you have several methods in your “tool kit” – each with a specific purpose.   You may also be like me in that you are easily distracted by a reference to a “new” method.

That’s what happened recently.  While reading threads on Ravelry, I saw reference to using the Chinese Waitress Cast-on to begin a scarf.  The poster said it was the only obvious way to start a scarf and suggested that anyone/everyone should already know that fact.

Well, hurumpf – in nearly 60 years of knitting, I’d never come across anything as being the ONE, TRUE way to cast on scarves.   Of course I had to do my own experiment.

My first stop was the referenced online video:

The method looked rather fiddly to me and I couldn’t see how it was much different from my own favorite scarf cast on – the Crochet Chain Cast-on.  Next stop: the referenced book, which just happened to be on the shelf behind my desk:

Cast On, Bind Off – 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting
Author:  Cap Sease
Publisher:  Martingale

The printed and illustrated instructions for both cast on methods are easy to follow.  This is truly a well done publication that should be on every knitter’s shelf.

Chinese Waitress Cast on   page 54
Crochet Chain Cast on   page 63


There is definitely a structural and visual difference between the methods.

Chinese Waitress Cast On

Chinese Waitress Cast on




Crochet Chain Cast On

Crochet Chain Cast on





For everyday scarf applications, I’ll still use a crochet chain cast on, especially if the cast on and bind off edges will be fringed.  Under the fringe knots, the stitches don’t show and this method produces a firm edge that won’t stretch too much when pulling the fringe sections through.

I’d also likely use the crochet chain cast on for shawls as the cast on and bind off edges will “look” identical.

However, for a sweater or another garment that I might want a more decorative beginning or a firmer on that looks the same front and back – well, let’s just say, I’m more than a little tempted to give the Chinese Waitress Method a try.

Happy casting……..Bobbi

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