The long tail cast on is a favorite for most knitters and with good reason. It produces a neat, stretchy edge and works well with most knitting projects. But no method or technique is without reproach.
The biggest complaint knitters have with using the long tail cast on is they can’t seem to accurately gauge how much yarn they’ll need. The problem is either the measurement is too short or too long. One can leave you stuck on repeat and the other could cause you to waste yarn. How frustrating!
But not to worry. In today's Knitting 101, we will show you how much yarn for a long tail cast on using four different methods. We've also outlined each of their pros and cons.
Whether you try one or all of these methods, you’re sure to find one that works best for your long tail cast on.
4 Ways to Measure How Much Yarn for a Long Tail Cast On
You might already know this method or have heard of it before.
This method involves wrapping the yarn around the knitting needle the number of stitches you will need for your project. If you need 20 stitches, you will wrap the yarn around the needle 20 times.
You would then unravel it marking the distance from beginning to end for how much yarn to cast on.
Just be sure to not wrap your stitches too tightly or too closely as it will affect your measurements. And don’t forget to account for your slip knot and enough to weave in the yarn tail later.
- This is more accurate when using fewer stitches.
- This is a good option for smaller projects.
- This method is less accurate than other methods.
- You may cast on tighter or looser than you wrap causing you to come up short or leave you with excess yarn.
Say your project is bigger though. You probably won’t want to wrap 100 stitches. That’s ok because you can always wrap a smaller amount, say 10 or 20 stitches. Then you would measure out in a zig-zag method, which we will discuss next.
The zig-zag method is simpler and more accurate than the wrapping method.
To use this method, first unravel a small portion of yarn. The length doesn’t matter yet.
Long tail cast on until you cannot make any more stitches. Then unravel these stitches taking care to hold the loop at the end.
Now you will fold the yarn and measure out the number of stitches you need end over end.
For example, say you need 60 stitches for your project. If you were able to cast on ten stitches from the length you unraveled, then you would measure out 6 lengths as shown in the image below.
Each arrow designates a length. From end of yarn to end of row 1, this demonstrates one length of ten stitches, per our example. You would then measure five additional lengths for a total of 60 stitches.
Again, don’t forget to add a little extra yarn for your slip knot and enough for a yarn tail.
- Quick and easy.
- Doesn’t require a ruler.
- Pretty accurate.
- Less likely to leave you with yarn waste.
- Works well on straight and circular knitting needles.
- A good option for projects large and small.
- Not always exact depending on how you zig and zag.
Stitches per Inch
As the name suggests, this method requires you to measure yarn stitches per inch. Thankfully, this is simple to do and requires only a ruler or tape measure and a calculator.
Say you need to cast on 100 stitches for your project. You would take your measuring tape and measure out 100 inches of yarn plus a little extra for your yarn tail.
Sounds easy, right? Read on for pros and cons of this method.
- Requires minimal measuring, but that may not always be a good thing.
- This method often works well with worsted weight yarn.
- May not work well on all yarn weights.
- Not always accurate.
- May leave you with yarn waste.
- May require multiple cast ons to meet your stitch requirement.
Two Strand Cast On
This last method has been around for years but, for some reason, isn’t as well-known as others.
It requires you to long tail cast on with two strands or to long tail cast on with both ends. So you can use either both ends of the same skein of yarn or one end from two separate skeins of yarn.
You start by making a slip knot with both strands of the yarn and leaving a 3” – 4” tail. Slip it onto your knitting needle and tighten it gently.
Then you separate the two strands and work them like your usual cast on. You will need to cast on an extra stitch as you will end up removing the slip knot in this method.
When you have cast on all the required stitches plus one, cut one of the two strands leaving a tail to weave in later.
Knit your first row with the uncut yarn strand. When you come to the slip knot, do not work it. Slide it off the needle and undo the knot.
Then continue knitting. Easy, right?
- Most accurate method.
- Quick and easy.
- No measurement or math involved.
- Doesn’t require any extra tools.
- Workable with one or two skeins of yarn.
- You can cast on large amounts of stitches.
- No worry of running out of yarn.
- Fool proof!
- You may forget to remove your slip knot.
- You may forget to add an extra stitch.
Thankfully, these last two cons are only minor and would be easy mistakes to remedy.
And there you have it.
Now you know four ways to measure how much yarn you'll need for a long tail cast on. Try them for yourself today.
Who knows? You may find that one (or more!) of these methods works well for you, saves you time, and ends your frustration.
Did you find these methods useful? Tell us about it! Please share a comment below.