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Monday, June 06, 2016

Monday Mini Tip - Long Tail Cast On Tips - Part 1

My favourite cast on is the long tail cast on and it's the one I use for everything, unless I need a provisional cast on. I teach the long tail cast on as part of my Continental Knitting with Norwegian Purl workshops which is available as an online class and at yarn shops. I'll be teaching this class this autumn at Spin A Yarn in Devon and Artesano in Berkshire - the rest of my autumn dates will be on my Events page soon. 

The key to a long tail cast on is in the name - you need a long tail. But how long a tail will you need? That's the issue that puts a lot of people off the long tail cast on. You either have a tail that's way too long or one that's way too short.

The 'thumb cast on' is the same as the long tail cast on but the yarn is held in a slightly different way.

I've got an easy way to estimate the tail needed depending on how many stitches you wish to cast on.

Here’s my general ‘rule’ (I normally add a little extra just in case): 
  •  Lace/2ply/4ply/Fingering/Sports Weight - wrap the yarn once around your hand for every 15-20 stitches needed. 
  •  DK/Worsted/Aran - wrap the yarn once around your hand for every 10 stitches needed.
  •  Chunky - wrap the yarn once around your hand for every 5 stitches needed. 

I always estimate a bit extra, just to be on the safe side but sometimes I end up with way too long a tail and I don't want to waste any yarn. Understanding how the cast on works and which strand of yarn does what will help you not waste any yarn.

The yarn over your index finger makes the stitches and the tail over your thumb makes the little knots at the bottom of the needle. If the tail is too long when you’re getting close to the end of your cast on, swap your yarns around and hold the tail over your index finger, this will use up the tail quicker.


Every knitters nightmare is running out of tail before the end of your cast on. But I've got an easy fix. Break the main yarn. Measure out how much tail is needed to complete your cast on then continue casting on, placing the new slip knot next to the last stitch you cast on. On the first row, tighten the stitches a bit when you go across the gap. Weave in ends carefully to help close up and hide the gap.

I'll be doing a Periscope broadcast tomorrow, Tuesday 7 June around 3pm UK, to demonstrate the techniques I've talked about in this post. I'll also explain why I cast on holding two needles together. I'm @YarnAddictAnni on Periscope. You can watch the replay here.

Are you new to Periscope? Read my blog post 'Introducing Periscope'.

Next week, I'll share some more tips relating to the long tail cast on.

You can see all previous Mini Tips on my Tutorials Page (scroll down a little bit). If you don't want to miss out on future Monday Mini Tips as well as news and exclusive offers from the YarnAddict Studio, subscribe to my newsletter.


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