Hello Gents! I am currently working on a project that requires a provisional cast on (PCO). I haven't knit a lot of items that use a PCO, but when I have I've used the crochet chain method. This works pretty well and has the nice feature of a sturdy and easily unraveled PCO edge. But I've always been annoyed by the fact that when you go back to put those stitches on your needle, you are always one short.
Yes, you can fudge it. One way to do that is by wrapping the cast on tail around the needle and making it a stitch. You can also increase one once you've picked up your stitches from the PCO edge. Another way around it is to cast on one more stitch than you need. That will make your stitch count correct when you go back to pick up those stitches, but you will have to decrease one on the first side to even it out. All these methods technically work, but seems fiddly to me and not very satisfying.
That dissatisfaction lead me to try to find a new way to go about things. After just a little searching I did find something and couldn't wait to share it! It comes from Jen over on her PORING OVER blog. The answer comes in the form of Judy's Magic Cast On (JMCO), which is normally used for toe-up socks. But you can easily substitute it wherever a PCO is called for you will end up with an equal number of stitches on both sides of your work. Brilliant! And makes me wonder, "why didn't I think of that?!"
Follow the link (in caps) above to her website if you're interested. On that page she has a video which shares how to proceed once you have cast on using JMCO. If you're unfamiliar with JMCO, she has a link to show you how that is done as well. Hope this helps someone else as much as it did me! Take care.