Today’s Knitting 101 is all about how to long tail cast on in knitting.
Of all the knitting cast on methods, the long tail cast on is the easiest to learn. It's also the one knitters use most.
The long tail cast on is so useful for all kinds of projects, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.
First, let’s talk about some knitting terms.
Before we discuss the long tail cast on method, a quick word on some knitting terms.
You’re bound to come across the following knitting phrases as you learn to knit. I just want to call them out for clarification in case you’re not yet familiar.
- Active Yarn / Working Yarn - This is the yarn you’re knitting with. It relates to the yarn coming from the skein or ball, not the yarn tail.
- Turning Your Work - When you knit to the end of a row, the worked row will be in your right hand. To turn your work, return this needle to your left hand and work the next row, etc. This occurs only in flat knitting, also known as straight knitting.
- Knitting Tension - This is how tightly or loosely you work your yarn. Too tightly leads to smaller stitches and denser fabric. Too loose leads to large, uneven stitches. Both make your knitting look sloppy and unprofessional.
Try for a smooth, even knitting rhythm for beautiful stitches. Side note, this is not to be confused with knitting gauge.
Other Names for the Long Tail Cast On
Also, depending on where you live or knit, you may hear the long tail cast on called by different names. It is also known as:
- Double Cast On
- Continental Knitting Cast On
- Slingshot Cast On
- Two Strand Cast On
There’s really no difference in how to do the long tail cast on itself, just a different name.
There's also several ways to determine how much yarn you'll need for your long tail cast on. This is especially useful for knitting projects that require casting on a lot of stitches like these cowl patterns or knitted ponchos.
Now, let’s talk about what a long tail cast on is.
What is a Long Tail Cast On?
When you cast on stitches in knitting, you’re knitting the first row. This first row of stitches will be what anchors the knitted piece together.
This is why it’s important to learn the long tail cast on correctly.
This easy cast on in knitting creates a stretchy edge which is necessary to some projects. The long tail cast on is what gives you an elastic edge.
Here are some easy knitting projects that use the long tail cast on:
- Arabesque Knit Cowl
- Fingerless Gloves
- Electric Love Mosaic Cowl
- Andalusian Risa Knit Hat
- Garter Stitch Scarf
- Eenie Meenie Baby Blanket
- Happy Accident Knit Washcloth
Okay, ready to learn this stretchy cast on method? Let’s learn how to long tail cast on.
For this knitting tutorial, I'm using:
These are just some of the knitting supplies I keep on hand. You can learn what tools you need in your knitting kit here.
How to Long Tail Cast On for Beginners
First, measure out your yarn for your long tail cast on.
Now, make your slip knot and cinch it onto your knitting needle in your right hand.
Second, lift the yarn tail over your left thumb and the working yarn over your left index finger. It should be in the shape of a Y or a slingshot.
To keep the slip knot in place, hold it on the knitting needle with your right index finger.
Third, swing the knitting needle to the left and insert it under and through the loop. Your knitting needle is moving towards your right index finger.
Fourth, continue this motion from left to right over and under the loop on your index finger.
The motion is now moving back to the left and through the loop on your thumb.
Fifth, drop your thumb and allow the yarn to slip off your finger. Now, gently tug the strands of yarn to cinch it on the needle.
You have now cast on your second stitch.
Remember, the slip knot is your first stitch in the long tail cast on. Don’t forget to count it.
Finally, repeat this process until you have cast on the desired number of stitches you need to begin your knitting project.
You’ve done it! You’ve learned how to cast on knitting stitches by learning how to long tail cast on.
A few things you should remember about your knitting tension:
- Don’t cast on too tightly. This will make it difficult to insert your needle to work the stitch. You will also end up with a puckered edge to your knitting. Not pretty.
- Don’t cast on too loosely. This will create gaps between your knitting and your stitches will be uneven.
When you turn your cast on row to knit, this is what your stitches will look like. The yarn tail will be in the back, your working yarn will be in the front.
Did you find this knitting 101 tutorial for the long tail cast on helpful? Still have questions? We’d love to know! Share a comment with us below.