In this Knitting 101 post, we’ll show you how to long tail cast on.
Of all the knitting cast on methods, the long tail cast on is the easiest to learn. It is also the one knitters use most.
Well, it creates a clean, stretchy edge, which can be useful in lots of projects. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Let's get started with the long tail cast on. But first...
Before we start talking about the long tail cast on, a quick word on knitting terms.
Below are some knitting phrases you’ll come across in this post and in other. Just wanted 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 coming from the skein or ball.
- 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 you move this needle back to your left hand and work the next row, etc.
There are some instances where you would not work to the end of the row but would still turn your work. This is known as Short Rows, but more on that at a later time.
- 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.
On a lighter note, you can also learn more knitting slang with our Knitter’s Knitcabulary.
What is a Long Tail Cast On?
When you cast on in knitting, you are creating the first row of stitches. More importantly, though, you are setting up your project for success.
This first row of stitches will be what anchors the piece together. So it is important to learn the long tail cast on correctly.
This cast on method creates a stretchy edge which is necessary to your project. Think sock cuffs, mittens, hat brims. It's what gives you that elastic edge that hugs.
It also goes by different names in different regions of the world.
More Knitting Terms
Depending on where you live or knit, you may hear the long tail cast on called by the following two names.
- Double Cast On
- Continental Cast On
There’s really no difference in the cast on itself, just a different moniker.
Ok, let's get started.
To begin, you must first create your slip knot. Forgot how to make a slip knot? Click the link to learn how.
How to Long Tail Cast On
TIP: Before you begin, make sure the tail end of the yarn is away from you. The active yarn, the yarn coming from your skein, should be closest to you.
Your working yarn should always come from the back (from the skein), not the front.
Remembering this tip will prevent you from having to cast on again.
Place your slip knot on your needle (tail away) and cinch it to the needle. Take the knitting needle in your right hand.
With your left hand, lift the working yarn over your thumb and the tail yarn over your index finger.
Hold the slip knot in place with your right index finger.
Drape the active yarn strand over your left thumb and the tail yarn over your left index finger. It should be in the shape of a Y.
Keep your right index finger over the slip knot. Now swing the knitting needle to the left.
Insert the knitting needle under and through the loop moving right towards your index finger.
Now move your needle from left to right over the loop on your index finger.
Insert your knitting needle under and through the loop of yarn around your index finger from right to left.
Continue moving the knitting needle to the left and through the loop on your thumb.
Drop your thumb and allow the yarn to slip off but maintain your tension.
Gently tug the strands of yarn to cinch it on the needle. You have now cast on your second stitch.
TIP: The slip knot is considered your first stitch. Remember to count it.
Repeat this process until you have cast on the desired number of stitches you need to begin your project.
TIP: Remember 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.
Next, you're ready to learn how much yarn you’ll need for a long tail cast on.
Did you find this knitting tutorial helpful? We’d love to know! Share a comment with us below.
*Editor's Note: First published in May 2017, this post has been completely updated. - October 24, 2018