Learn our go-to, favorite cast on! The long tail cast on makes a stretchy and forgiving edge and is one of the fastest cast on techniques (once you get the hang of it, anyway).
In it, you'll be using two strands of yarn at once, which means you'll need a long tail to start it off (hence the name). The length of your tail depends on how many stitches you need to cast on. See our first note in the tips section below to learn how to calculate the correct tail length for your stitches.
Leaving a long tail*, make a slip knot and put it on your needle (this counts as your first stitch). Follow our Slip Knot Tutorial for more help on this step.
You can also see below for how to start the long tail cast on without a slip knot.
Learn how to hold your yarn:
Once you're holding the yarn correctly, you're ready to start making stitches! Repeat the below technique until you have the number of stitches you want (or how many your pattern tells you to have).
LONG TAIL CAST ON TIPS
*To measure how long to make your tail for the long tail cast on, follow these steps:
- Leave a 24" tail, make a slip knot, and cast on 9 stitches using the above techniques (end with 10 stitches total on your needle, including the slip knot).
- Pinch the two strands of yarn close to the needle, then slide the 10 stitches off your needle.
- Continue holding the yarn where you pinched it originally, but use both hands to pull the two strands apart, undoing the cast on stitches. The length between each pinched point is the amount of yarn you used to cast on 10 stitches, using both the tail and the working yarn (the yarn coming from the ball).
- Fold this length in half. This is how much of a tail you need to cast on 10 stitches, which you can use to calculate how much of a tail you need for more. For example, if you needed to cast on 50 stitches, you would multiply your tail length by 5 (but we also always add an extra length to be safe).
Make sure the two strands of yarn you're using to cast on don't get twisted around each other between stitches. If you need to readjust the way you're holding your yarn, make sure the front yarn (the one that goes around your thumb) stays in the front and continues to be the yarn that goes around your thumb, and the back yarn (the one that goes around your index finger) stays in the back and continues to be the yarn that goes around your index finger.
The back yarn (the one around your index finger) controls the tightness of the stitch, while the front yarn (the one around your thumb) tightens the knot underneath the stitch. Make sure the yarn around your index finger isn't wrapped or pulled too tightly, or else it will be difficult to knit into your stitches later.