Monday, February 21, 2011

Long Tail Cast On - Edited 2/23

Long tail is my preferred cast-on so I use it unless a pattern specifically states otherwise.  The knitted edge it gives to garments is neat and once you get the hang of this technique it is a relatively fast cast on.

1- You will need to make a long tail.  How?  By taking the thread at the beginning of the cake and making a dangling tail.  How long?   Well, that is debatable.  One method is to wrap the yarn around the needle to be used 10 or 20 times.  Measure that length and then divide the needed number of stitches by 10 or 20.  So if you wanted 100 sts, then I would wrap 20 times and pull out 5 times the length of the 20 wraps.
That center (on one side the end is dangling down and on the other the yarn is being pulled from the cake) will become the first stitch.  You will be using the tail section and the yarn from the cake at the same time.

2- From that center wrap the yarn around your fingers like this - clockwise around the thumb. The tail is hanging from your thumb and the cake thread from your fingers.  Some folks make a slip knot first (see #4) but I just merrily go ahead without one.  It's your choice.

copyright S Sarabasha 2/2011
Keep the yarn tensioned as shown in #4 illustration below.

3-  Now place your needle just so:  Up through the thumb loop and then under the cake thread toward the thumb 
copyright S Sarabasha 2/2011
and then down and through the thumb loop 

as shown in the illustration below with a dotted line and arrow, making a stitch by sliding the loop off your thumb.
copyright S Sarabasha 2/2011

4- Gently cinch this stitch up on the needle, but not tightly (center is now on the needle). Place the yarn as below and make another stitch.
copyright S Sarabasha 2/2011

In other words, 
a) Start with a slip knot or one stitch made from #1-3 above 
b) Then replace the yarn onto your fingers as shown, keeping the threads tensioned with the middle, ring and pinky fingers
c) Send the needle under the front thread widening the space, 
d) Now move your needle over to the next finger, going under that thread and making a stitch
e) Pull that stitch toward you, going back under the first thread and up, removing the yarn from the thumb
f) Cinch up the sts with your fingers as shown and repeat from b)

A picture is truly worth a thousand words, well maybe several hundred anyway.

 You'll get the hang of it soon.

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