Beginning a new knitting project can be daunting, especially when it comes to the first step – casting on. Don't fret if you find the process intimidating - this tutorial will guide you through one easy cast-on technique: Long Tail Cast On. With a bit of practice, you can become an expert at any of this method. So don't waste another second - pick up your yarn and let's get started!
What is a Cast On?
When it comes to knitting, casting on is the very first step in creating an array of loops onto your needle. This row of stitches is usually referred to as a cast on; its abbreviation being “CO” when reading written patterns. Of course, there are several ways you can go about this process- ranging from rigid and tight methods, to supple and stretchy techniques - each yielding unique borders for any project.
Types of Cast Ons
To better understand the various types of cast ons, it is useful to categorize them into families.
Two-strand cast ons When starting a new knitting project, long-tail cast ons call for two strands of yarn - the working strand (from your ball) and the tail end. This technique is simple, yet effective in providing knitted pieces with neat edges and stability.
One-strand cast ons With a one-strand cast on, you only need to employ a single thread of yarn. This is ideal when starting from scratch or wanting to increase your stitches while already in the midst of a project.
Common Cast On Methods
In this article we'll cover one starter cast on method: the Long Tail Cast On. If you're ready to dive deeper into casting on, then there are several other methods - such as the Cable Cast On, Tubular Cast On, Provisional Cast On and Picot Cast On - which can help take your knitting to the next level. Don't let these names intimidate you though! Judy's Magic cast on is a great place to start when it comes time for more advanced techniques.
To start off, we would like to introduce the handy Long-Tail Cast On. This two-strand cast on is a favorite amongst beginners due its strength and flexibility, ideal for projects that need some give such as socks or hats. You will require one needle together with the working yarn (attached to your ball) and a tail end of yarn - henceforth known as the "long tail". With this combination you are all set!Before kicking off your project, make sure you accurately estimate the necessary yardage for a lengthy cast-on tail. Having an excessive amount of yarn is preferable to running out during knitting - only then will you have to unravel and re-cast on with a longer strand of yarn.
Long-Tail Cast-On Instructions
For those just starting out, we suggest the Long-Tail Cast On--a two-strand cast on that produces a solid yet elastic edge which is great for items like socks and hats. To begin, you'll need one needle with both your working yarn (the strand attached to the ball) and long tail end of yarn. This dual approach is what gives this method its name: The Long-Tail Cast On!
Note: Planning ahead is essential for this method as you need to accurately estimate the amount of yarn necessary for the "long tail." Better safe than sorry, so it's recommended that you purchase more yarn than necessary in case there is a need to restart your work. If by any chance you are running low on your supply, then unfortunately undoing and remeasuring out a longer tail will be required before continuing.
Step 1: Measure out the yarn tail, and tie a slip knot.
To begin the Long Tail Cast On, you must measure out a long length of yarn that is 3 to 4 times wider than your project. So if you are making an 8-inch scarf, pull out 24 to 32 inches of yarn. Then knot up a slipknot and place it on the needle with the tail facing towards you and working yarn away from you. Hold onto the needle using your right hand while also utilizing your right index finger in order to keep this slip knot secure!
Step 2: Holding the Yarn
Grasp the two strands of yarn with your last three fingers on the left hand. Now take your thumb and index finger to part them apart, forming a "Y" or "slingshot". With your palm facing upwardly, you will have one loop around the thumb and another around the index finger. Keep holding onto both fibres with all other digits in that left hand while maintaining tension between them.
Step 3: Make the First Cast On Stitch
Orient yourself by placing the yarn loops on your thumb and index finger. Your thumb should have one loop containing an outer and inner strand, while the index finger will hold a single loop with both an inner and outer strand.
Secure the slip knot in position on your knitting needle using your index finger.
Pull the needle downwards towards you and slide its tip underneath the outside strand of your thumb's loop, before pushing it up through its center.
Give the needle a gentle flick on your index finger, loop it around the inside strand and then thread it back down through its own center. Make sure you catch the inner stand while guiding the tip of your hook to complete this move!
Now, guide the needle from one side of the inner stand to the thumb loop's center by pivoting it sideways.
Now, remove your thumb from the loop and carefully tighten the yarn tails to secure it onto the hook. Congrats! You've successfully cast on a stitch!
To continue casting on more stitches, repeat these steps: First, restring the yarn around your thumb and index finger to form a "slingshot" shape. Then you’re all set to create the next cast-on stitch!
To create as many stitches needed for your design, keep repeating these steps—don't forget that the slip knot will count as a stitch.
Congratulations! You've successfully mastered the long tail cast on method of knitting stitches. It may take some time to become familiar with this technique, but once you get it, you'll rely upon it for all your future knitting projects.
For a comprehensive guide on this method, be sure to check out: How to Do the Long Tail Cast On in Knitting.