The tubular cast-on is great for hats, bottom-up sweaters and top-down socks. It’s a neat and tidy cast-on that is extremely stretchy and flows almost invisibly into 1×1 ribbing, and with one extra row to rearrange the stitches it flows wonderfully into 2×2 ribbing too. This version casts on the stitches by alternating the ball-end and tail-end yarns, which helps the recovery and keeps it from pulling out of shape. It’s also known as the two-strand tubular cast-on, long-tail tubular cast-on or Italian cast-on.
If you find that the cast-on is puffy and flaring, try casting on with a smaller needle, or try skipping the two set-up rows altogether. When working the brioche stitch, the set-up rows aren’t necessary as the set-up for brioche itself already involves slipping stitches.
Because everybody loves a gif, I’ve made an animated loop of this cast-on, as well as written instructions with separate loops of each action so you can stare at the motions over and over again. Note: Left-handed knitters, you may skip ahead to mirrored instructions.