Probably one of the hardest things to learn in knitting is the cast on. There are countless ways to cast on depending on your project’s needs. Today I will show you the most popular, the (left handed) long tail cast on. To start the left handed long tail cast on you will have the yarn in your right hand. Don’t worry! Your left hand will be doing all of the work!
Click on any image to enlarge
The above photos shows you how to start threading the yarn through your fingers to hold the yarn the correct way. You will see the tail of the yarn resting on the side of the palm of my hand. The tail MUST always be facing you and the working yarn away from you. What I didn’t show you in this picture is that you need significantly more tail to complete the cast on than what is shown because the cast on uses the tail yarn to form the stitches. There are formulas to figure out how much yarn you need to cast on a stitch. I have found that the knitting police do not come after me when I guesstimate how long of a tail to make. I like to err on the safe side and I typically pull out too much yarn for the tail, trimming off the extra later. It is a big time drag to have casted on 100+ stitches to run out of yarn before all the stitches have been made.
Okay, to recap, the tail is facing you and you have more tail than you think to cast on your project. Next you take the yarn so that it sits behind your right thumb and index finger and in front of the middle, ring and pinkie finger. Grab both the working and tail yarn with your middle, ring and pinkie fingers.
Here’s what your right hand should look like.
Long Tail Cast On Starting position
Here’s the starting position.
Long Tail Cast On Step 1
Step 1: push down on the yarn that spans between your thumb and pointer finger. This will become your first stitch. The stitch you are about to make becomes the second stitch.
Long Tail Cast On Step 2
Long Tail Cast On Step 3
Step 3: Slide your needle up your thumb, under the yarn.
Long Tail Cast on Step 4
Step 4: take your needle and go up and over the yarn going to your right index finger.
Long Tail Cast On Step 5
Step 5: continue going around the yarn so that the needle now goes underneath the yarn.
Long Tail Cast On Step 6
Step 6: (above and below photos) Bring your needle tip down into the opening by your thumb.
Long Tail Cast On Step 7
Step 7: swing needle under the yarn that is closest to you on your thumb which is highlighted with the white line in the photo above.
Long Tail Cast On Step 8
Step 8: Bring your needle tip up while starting to take your thumb out of the loop.
Long Tail Cast On Step 9
Step 9: put your thumb in the space between the needle and yarn facing you and pull the yarn away from the needle. This will tighten the stitch.
Long Tail Cast On Step 10
Continue to pull your thumb away from the needle while pulling your pointer finger away from the needle in the opposite direction. You have completed casting on the stitch and are in position to start the next cast on stitch starting at step 2.
Here’s the process again for the cast on once the first two stitches are on the needle.
That’s it! You’ve completed the long tail cast on. Now keep going until you cast on all the required stitches.
Good luck and happy knitting!
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