Long Tail Cast On – Popular Cast On Method


The long tail cast on or double cast on is one of the most popular and quickest cast on knitting methods. Once you know how I bet it’s going to be the only method you use.

It creates a nice firm, stretchy, edge making it just right for most knitting projects, and it actually produces a knitted row so when you turn your work to begin knitting you can actually start with a purl row if you want. You don’t have to though.

The biggest challenge with this cast on is making sure that you leave a long enough tail to cast on all your stitches.  Here are two ways to try:

  1. Use a tape measure and allow one inch per stitch. If you were to cast on 20 stitches then allow 20 inches plus add an extra 4 – 6 inches for weaving in. So measure out 24 – 26 inches.  I also keep the tape measure taut and the yarn pretty loose.  
  2. Wrap the yarn around the needle the same amount of times as the amount of stitches you need. Each wraparound is a pretend stitch so that you can measure. If you have to cast on 30 stitches wrap the yarn around the needle 30 times. Or, wrap the yarn 10 times and measure that length, then triple it for 30 stitches. The trick to this method is to keep the stitches nicely spaced and make sure they aren’t too tightly wrapped.

Guess What? The Long Tail Cast On Just Got Easier

Here’s a great knitting tip for not having to estimate the length of yarn to use.  Of course you will still need this step-by-step tutorial but when you’re done you can check it out. I use it all the time especially when I need to cast on lots of stitches.  Clicking this link will take you to my knitting tips page and I will show you how to long tail cast on without ever having to estimate the yarn tail again.

 Long Tail Cast On Instructions

Make a slip knot and place it on your needle.

Hold your knitting needle in your right hand with both strands of yarn hanging down. Keep the tail end closest to you and the working yarn (ball end) furthest away. With your left hand put your thumb and forefinger together and stick them between the two strands of yarn.

long tail cast on

Spread your thumb and forefinger apart with the tail end over your thumb and the working yarn over your forefinger. Hold the dangling strands of yarn in the palm of your hand.

long tail cast on

Raise both your hands so they are kind of level with each other. When you are holding the right needle use your forefinger to hold the slip knot on the needle. Gently pull the right needle back a bit so that you have what looks like a sling shot.

Then insert the right knitting needle under the yarn on the outside of the loop at the bottom of your thumb. In the second photo below my knitting needle is pointing to where you need to insert the needle.

               long tail cast on          long tail cast on

Keeping the strand of yarn from the thumb on the needle slowly move your needle over to your forefinger.

long tail cast on

In the next two photos you are going to catch the yarn on your forefinger. I just want you to have a clear view.

               long tail cast on          long tail cast on

Slowly bring the needle back and through the thumbs loop gently pulling your thumb out leaving the new stitch on the knitting needle.

               long tail cast on          long tail cast on

Tug on the long tail end of yarn gently to snug up the new stitch on the needle – not too tight.

long tail cast on

For those of you who learn better by watching, this is a great video demonstrating the long tail cast on method.

Long Tail Cast On Knitting Video

If you are happy with this cast on method and you’re anxious to get started with knitting you can start with the knit stitch on my knitting instructions page.

I understand what it’s like when you really want to get going.


Maybe you’d like to try all the cast-ons on my casting on knitting page.


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