A provisional cast on is a technique where waste yarn is used to create a cast on edge that will later be removed, exposing live stitches that can be knit. It's extremely useful when a design requires a mirror image of a stitch pattern (essentially you can knit in two directions) or when a seamless join of two edges is essential to the design (the two sets of live stitches can be grafted together).
But, recently I've seen many hat patterns that are requiring a provisional cast on in order to create a double layer brim. The live stitches from the provisional cast on are knit together with the outside body of the hat to create a seamless join of the two layers of fabric. In my opinion, there are a couple problems with this. First, the fabric layers must be identical in length to avoid any puckering or ripples - second, the seam can cause a ridge at the join. Add to that the fact that the seam doesn't need to be invisible and the provisional cast on can be fiddly - there has to be a better way!
My solution is simple and old school. Cast on as usual, fold the lining to the inside, and whip stitch into place.
Here's how to modify a pattern like this - we'll use Oh That Hat! as an example. This is a fantastic pattern using one skein of Hikoo Oh, an incredibly soft and squishy baby alpaca yarn. As soon as I read the words "cast on using Provisional CO" I skipped ahead to see what exactly I was going to do with that provisional cast on. Where the pattern starts "Fold Hem" I got my answer. I was going to knit those stitches together with the body of hat.
So instead I cast on using a long tail cast on (my preferred method, but keep it loose!), knit the pattern as instructed until I reached the instructions for "Fold Hem". I just skipped this part, and continued on and finished the hat. I then went back to the hem, folded it to the inside, and used a length of yarn to whip stitch into place. When you whip stitch, just catch one thread of purl bump on the inside of the hat and your seam will be completely invisible from the right side.
My advice is whenever you see instructions for a provisional cast on, read ahead and find out why. Most times it is necessary - but for a hat lining? Not usually. But here's another example of a lined hat where I would use the provisional cast on, Citadel from Hedgehog Fibres. In this case the lining is knit from a different weight yarn and lines the entire inside of the hat. A provisional cast on here would be best since it will lay smooth between the two different yarns and you won't have to pickup dozens of stitches.
Want more? I've designed a few hat patterns with lined brims that do not use a provisional cast on. Enjoy!
Frosting Hat & Cowl by Sharyn Anhalt
Bushwacker Sport by Sharyn Anhalt
Bushwacker by Sharyn Anhalt
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