Posted by: Kate | December 29, 2008

An Even Better Long-Tail Cast-On Trick

A relatively long time ago, I posted a quick blurb about a way to accurately estimate how much yarn to use when attempting a long-tail cast-on (non-knitters, just click to the next blog on your list today, nothing to see here).

Tonight, I used another one, even cooler than that and perfect for, say, lengthwise scarves or other times when you need to cast on several hundred stitches and don’t feel like giving your let’s-just-guess muscles a workout.

You’ll need two balls of yarn, or at the very least, two ends (you could work from the outside and the inside of a center-pull ball, if so inclined; I’m using recycled sari silk, which is gorgeous and hellacious to work with and thus used two separate balls altogether).  At the ends, tie them together.  Slip knit, double knot, rubber band, glue, whatever tickles your fancy.  Then act as though that knot is the folded-over bit where you’ve decided to start casting on in a traditional long-tail method, and have at it.  One ball will contribute the loops-around-the-needles bit, and the other will contribute the spins-around-the-bottom bit, and at the end of all of your casting on, you’ll have an edge that looks just like a regular long-tail cast-on, but with two live balls of yarn ready to go.  Snip one and weave in the ends later.  Work with the other.

Kind of awesome, no?  Well, perhaps not, if you forced yourself to read this whole thing without being a knitter in the first place.  But when I consider the hours this will save me in the future, when I am off by either six inches or six feet from the desired cast-on length, then it stimulates the awesome-neurons in my brain.



  1. I wish I had read this last night before I cast on 160 stitches for the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket. It took me two tries.

  2. Both of these ideas are so brilliant and so obvious – what a smartie you are. Long-tail is usually my cast-on technique of choice, unless I’m doing socks (Magic/figure 8) or the project calls for something specific.

  3. Sorry, that should read “figure eight)”, not “figure 8)”. Blasted emoticons…

  4. Oh now you share the secret! :p I could have used this bit of information last week when I started this shawl! I will remember though before I start the next one.

  5. I’ve been using various stretchy cast-ons lately, but will do this the next time I use long-tail, and I’ll teach it to my kids (I teach a knitting class at DD’s school).

    I always run out, and it’s just awkward, too, when you’re casting on 200-some stitches (like for shawls). Great idea!

  6. P.S. Could you use some more sari silk? I’ve got a ton of it that’s been sitting in “time-out” for eons. It’s Mango Moon, too, the good stuff.

  7. I’ll remember this the next time I cast on for a large project. Thanks, dearie!

    So, whatcha makin’?

  8. This is the reason I learned the crochet cast on… I thought I was good at estimating till I had to cast on 200+ stitches almost five times till I got it. I’ll have to add this one to my list of cast ons.

  9. What a great tip! Awesome.

  10. What a wonderful trick! I was using the try-it-and-unravel-it method. Thanks!

  11. Kate, I need to pin this and it won’t let me…. this is genius and I’m so glad you posted. I’m very new to knitting (self taught). And this just save me hours of BS!! Thank you a millioin!


  12. Brilliant! I’m starting on my first big project – this will make it *so* much easier to get set up.


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