The long tail cast on is one of the most common cast ons used in knitting. For many knitters, it’s the first one they learn when starting their knitting journey. The key to the long tail cast on is all in the name—you’ll need a long tail to start. But how long should this tail be?
There are a lot of factors that can affect the tail length, such as yarn composition or your gauge, just to name a few. However, you can use this quick trick to estimate the length of your yarn tail so that you can be sure you have enough yarn to complete your cast on.
Starting with the needles and yarn for your project, leave a tail of six to eight inches, then wrap the yarn around the needle 10 times. This is going to represent 10 stitches.
Pinch the yarn at either end of the needle and unwrap it from the needle. That length of yarn is what you’ll need in your tail to cast on 10 stitches.
Now that you have that length of yarn, you can fold the yarn over itself to estimate more stitches. Fold it over again to represent 20 stitches, again for 30 stitches, and so on. Continue this process until you have estimated for the total number of stitches the cast on calls for.
If you need to cast on a lot of stitches (for example 300 or more for a bottom-up shawl), I would suggest adding a little extra yarn into your tail as an extra insurance policy. It’s always better to have a little extra yarn leftover in your yarn tail than to run out of yarn when casting on a lot of stitches.
Once you have your yarn tail estimated, make a slip knot and place it on the needle—this counts as your first stitch. From there, you can work the long tail cast on for the number of stitches you need. Easy!
If you need a refresher on how to work the long tail cast on, check out our free video here.
Do you have any tips for the long tail cast on you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!