February 03, 2022
The Long Tail Cast-on method is a classic knitting technique that’s known for its speed and stretchiness. It's one of the most popular ways to teach new knitter's to cast on, and for good reason!
This method uses a long tail of yarn along with one needle and your hand to establish the stitches that you’ll knit from. The Long Tail Cast-on is structurally identical to a backwards loop cast on plus a row of knitting, making it sturdier and less prone to stretch out as you knit than a simple loop cast on. You can use the Long Tail Cast-on for just about any knitting project. If you’re just learning how to cast on and knit, the Long-tail cast on is an indispensable skill for your toolkit!
The long tail cast-on is worked onto one needle. If you're using circular needles hold one tip in the right hand and let the other dangle.
Pull a length of yarn from the ball.
Getting just the right length of tail can be tricky, but it’s better to have more yarn than not enough! To estimate the yarn tail length, measure out about 1" / 2.5cm per cast-on stitch in worsted weight yarn. You’ll need a little less in thinner yarns, a little more in chunkier yarns. An alternative rule of thumb is to use 3 times the width of the project you're casting on for, plus about 6" / 15cm extra.
Make a slipknot and place it on the right-hand needle (easier for beginners) OR lay the yarn over the right needle without a slipknot.
The ball end of the yarn should be away from you and the tail end closer to you.
Holding the needle in your right hand, use your left hand to grasp the two tails hanging from the needle. Insert your left index finger and thumb between the tails.
Open your index finger and thumb, letting the yarn slide down onto your thumb and finger to create the “slingshot” or a V shape. You’ll return to this hand and yarn position after each cast-on stitch.
Step 1. Bring the right needle tip slightly towards you, then insert it into the left thumb loop from below.
Step 2. Grab the strand from your index finger with the right needle, from right to left.
Step 3. Draw the index finger strand down through the loop on your left thumb.
Step 4. Release the yarn from your left thumb.
Step 5. Use your thumb to tighten up the stitch and return to the slingshot position.
Repeat steps 1–6 to continue the Long Tail Cast-on until all of your stitches have been cast on.
Learning how to cast on for knitting is one of the very first things you learn as a knitter, and the Long Tail Cast-on is a versatile and easy method that’s perfect for hats, shawls and sweaters.
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