How to Knit the Long Tail Cast On

The long tail cast on is probably the most often used cast on among knitters. It’s very versatile. If a pattern doesn’t specify which cast on to use, the long tail is usually a good choice. One tip is to cast on using a needle two to three sizes bigger than the one you will use to obtain the correct gauge for your pattern. Here’s how to do the long tail cast on; the video below also gives step-by-step instructions:

  • Start with a long tail. One way is estimate the amount of yarn you will need is to wrap the yarn 2-3 times around your needle for each stitch you will need to cast on.
  • Make a slip knot and put it on one needle; this counts as the first stitch.
  • Hold the needle in your right hand and arrange the yarn so the loose end (tail end) is near your body and the ball of yarn (working yarn) is away from you, as shown in Figure 1 below.  
  • Push your left hand thumb and index finger down in between the strands and spread open, then wrap your other three fingers around the leftover strands (as shown in Figure 1 below.)  Stand your fingers up to make the shape shown in Figure 2. 
  • The right needle goes under the tail yarn on the left side of your thumb from the left (see step 1 in Figure 2), then under and up through the middle, then over the working yarn over the left side your index finger (step 2 in Figure 2), underneath and back up through the middle, then down like you’re running the tip of your right needle down your left thumb (step 3 in Figure 2.)  Use your left thumb to pull the loop a little tight but not too tight. 
  • That’s one stitch. Repeat until you have enough stitches. 
Figure 1
Figure 2

Check out the video below for step-by-step instructions for how to do the long tail cast on:

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