Long Tail Cast-On length

This is absolutely my favorite cast on method, it creates a really nice even cast-on row for me. However, I have a problem judging how long to leave for the tail…especially when I have to cast on a lot of stitches. :wall:

For example, this project needed me to cast on 126 stitches and I tried to judge and had to rip and re-cast 3 TIMES because I kept running short! Even when I thought I was taking a ton more yarn. :grrr:

Now I’ve cast on and I’ve got this ridiculously long hangy-tail end. :verysad: So how do you all figure out how long of a tail to leave when casting on a loooottttttt of stitches?

When I have to cast on a loooot of stitches–like at the bottom of an in-the-round sweater, I use two skeins. One for the tail and one for the ‘main’ skein. When I’m done, I cut one to make it the tail and continue with the other one.

Hmmm…that’s a good idea. Of course I couldn’t this time cuz I’m knitting double stranded and I think I’d wind up with skeins and yarn flying every which way. I get discombobulated very easily :rofl:

i just cast on about 10 or 20… take them back off and unravel, then use this as a guide, if you cast on 10, then multiply that length by roughly 12 for your 120 stitches plus a bit more for seaming (or luck!)

i too like to use 2 balls of yarn.

but here is another trick.

look at schematic–how big is the cast on?
front of sweater (11 to 15 inches?)
back of sweater (20 to 30 stitches?)
Hat (19 to 20 stitches?

you need pi times width. (or 3 times width and a bit more.)
(because you need to have enough yarn to wrap around a needle (a circle right!?)

20 inch (sweater back?) more than 60 inches, less than 72.

do you know how long a space from finger tips to nose? take a tape measure and measure outstretched arm fingertip to nose.
(on me, its 34 inches.) depending on your height/build it will be be between 30 to 36 inches.

so if i am casting on for 25 inches, i need more than 75 inches ( and 34 +34 =68, so 2 full lengths + 1/2 (anther 17 inches) is about right–I need more than 2 full lengths, but less than 93 (3 full lengths from nose to fingertips)–it is not perfect but close… (and rarely too short!)

and Pi times centimeters words too… (d’oh) and measuring your arm to nose works the same!

works well with big cast ons too… making a blanket and its going to be 60 inches wide? you need over 200 inches for cast on!
(more it you are doing cables or anything that compresses the knitting)

Another way to estimate it is half inch x number of stitches, plus about 3-6 inches for a little tail. So for 80 sts, you’d need about 46 inches. I think that usually works out to about the same as the 3 x the width you need method.


You can also use both ends (inside and outside) of the same ball if you don’t have another handy.

Same comment here – when using yarn double-stranded, instead of using two balls, you can use the inside and outside end of the same ball. You’ll have to join in a new ball twice as often as you would if you were using two balls at a time, but it may be easier to handle one than two in the long run. Using this method, you’d only need two balls to do Ingrid’s cast-on, and would only have one ball to contend with afterwards.

If your estimate falls a little short, you can cast on the remaining stitches by “purling on”. It’s like the “knitting on” cast-on that Amy demonstrates, but it’s from the purl side and it duplicates the look of long-tail cast-on very closely.

Lily Chin demonstrated this technique on “Knitty Gritty”.

My grandma taught me to use “one inch per stitch” to cast on. That seems to work pretty well for worsted on US10’s, and I adjust it up and down depending on my needle size. (On the other hand, my grandma also taught me to measure the length my using my wingspan as a yard. :?? I don’t do this, but it just goes to show grandma’s advice should sometimes be taken with several grains of salt. :wink: )

I find that my `wingspan’ is only an inch or two short of a yard, so it works for some people. As long as you don’t have to have an absolutely accurate measurement… :wink: