I remember that happening when I was first learning. I can't remember what I did differently then versus now. The only thing I can think of is when I was learning I had problems with inconsistent tension and gauge, but the only thing I did to make that better is practice and muscle memory.
I knit and crochet, and I always wish beginners could somehow learn those crafts in the middle of something, the first couple rows never feels right to a beginner. I have taught several people to crochet and I always give them something that has at least a few inches already done at first.
I would suggest knitting a swatch first at least. After you knit a dozen or so rows from the cast on that strange loose piece from the first row might not be as big as you thought it was.
Wish I could help. Good luck.