Longtail Cast On

Longtail Cast On
March 09, 2020

The long tail cast on is one of the most commonly used cast-on techniques. Although it can look intimidating at first, once mastered it is a quick and easy way of starting a project.

When should I use a long-tail cast on?
This method is very versatile and suitable for all kinds of projects! Because it is reasonably stretchy, it can be used for hats and sweaters — but it is also sturdy enough to be used for things like a scarf and will not lose its shape over time. If your cast on needs to be especially stretchy, consider using the Old Norwegian Cast On or Jenny’s Stretchy Slip Knot Cast On.

We start with a slip knot, which will count as our first stitch. As the name suggests, this technique requires that we leave a long tail of yarn, as we will use yarn from both the tail and the skein to form each stitch. The more stitches you need to cast on, the longer a tail you should leave.

One rule of thumb is to leave a tail that is about three times as long as your intended cast on, plus about 6 inches of tail that will be left unworked (and weaved into your project later). So, to cast on five inches of knitting, you would need a total of twenty-one inches of tail.
Another method is to start with about 6 inches of tail, and then loosely wrap the yarn around your needle for the number of stitches you intend to cast on. Form your slip knot at the end, leaving the wrapped yarn as your tail.

With the slip knot on your needle, wrap the tail end of the yarn around your thumb. Wrap the working yarn around your index finger. Grasp both ends of yarn in your remaining fingers and rock your hand backward away from the needle. This is often called the slingshot position.

To cast on a stitch:

  1. Pass the needle over the loop of yarn on your thumb
  2. Bring the needle through the bottom of the loop on your thumb. This loop of yarn is now on the needle
  3. Bring the needle through the top of the loop on your index finger
  4. Bring the needle back down through the top of the loop on your thumb
  5. Release the loop from your thumb and pull the new loop snug onto the needle. You have cast on a stitch
  6. Bring your thumb back under the yarn tail and pull it back into the slingshot position in order to cast on the next stitch

Continue for as many stitches as you need.

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