Short Tail vs Long Tail Cast On

I couldn’t find another section on this …

I’ve always used the long tail cast on and usually have a lot left over, or not enough to finish casting on the last three stitches …

At our Knit Night I was shown how to do the short tail cast on … it probably has other names but you do your slip knot then knit on your second stitch, put the needle in between the two, knit that and put it up and over onto your needle … I like the edge finish of it.

It takes me about 2 minutes to cast on 100 st the regular way … to cast on the same with this short tail takes me 15 mins … does anyone else have this problem? Slippery metal needles don’t help any either.


if i am understanding correctly, you are referring to the cable cast-on, where instead of knitting INTO the stitch and placing it back on the needle, you are going in between stitches. it’s a good stretchy cast-on and I believe there is a video about it here. It is just a more time-consuming cast-on since you are knitting the stitches on, so I can’t help with that part, but I can give you a tip from Knitty Gritty regarding the long-tail cast-on, which is my favorite.

Before casting on, wrap your yarn around the intended needle 10 times, not too loose, not too tight. That is approximately how much yarn you will need for 10 stitches. Holding that length of your yarn in your hand, you can then approximate how much yarn you will need for the long-tail, “folding” that length over say 10 times for 100 stitches. Make sense? Also, another tip from KG for when you run out of yarn, the long-tail appears and functions the same way as a purled-on cast-on, so if you run out of yarn before you have enough stitches, you can purl on more stitches, the same way you would knit on, only with the yarn in front and purling.

Hope this helps!

Yeah, it sounds like cable cast-on. Interesting that you consider it stretchy, Sean – from what I’ve read (and from my own experience), it’s a fairly firm and inelastic cast-on – good for buttonholes and such. (It all depends on the knitter, I suppose.) I wouldn’t use it for casting on a lot of stitches unless I needed a really sturdy edge. I generally reserve it for times when I need to cast on additional stitches in an already established piece – like when making buttonholes. (It’s also neater than long-tail in that situation since you don’t need another length of yarn to do it.) The reason most people use long-tail most of the time because it works well for most applications, and is quick and easy. Stretchy too, if you do as Amy suggests, and work with a larger needle than what you plan to use in the rest of the piece. (I suppose you could use larger needles to make other cast-ons looser too, now that I think about it.)

ETA: I just did a little research, and there seems to be little agreement on whether or not this cast-on is stretchy. Yeas and nays both ways. I’m sure it depends a lot on how loosely you work.

I think the cable cast on is definitely tighter than a long tail, and definitely takes longer to do. Knitted on is faster, but the CO stitches are looser and it’s harder to knit into them. :shrug:

Other ways to guesstimate the yarn you’ll need for a long tail: half as many inches as stitches you need, so for 80 sts, you need 40 inches of tail. Or 3 and a half times your width - 20" = 70 inches of yarn tail.


I posted the other day on an easy way to do a cast on, especially if you have a bunch to CO. Here is the link. check it out. I think youll like it.

Yes, I did see that, but I can’t follow it at all!! :shrug: If someone showed me I probably could but I do very badly with pictures as I can’t see it 3D.


She’s just doing a regular long-tail cast-on, except she’s using another ball of yarn (or the other end of the same ball) as her tail. This way she can be confident that she will never run out of tail. She’ll have more ends to weave in later, but that’s the trade-off one has to make. There’s another description of the technique near the bottom of this page, and another explanation (by moi :blush:) in the fourth post of this thread. Maybe reading slightly different explanations will help things click. (Note that we don’t all put the two strands on the needle in the same way, though. It really doesn’t matter how they get there.)

I finally tried this method over the weekend and it rocks!

Here’s some more cast on videos I find helpful.

BTW…I find the cable cast on too tight for most things.

You can also measure 3x’s the length of the piece for your long tail. And make sure that the you are working the tail on your thumb- it uses less yarn than if you had it on your index finger.

So, being the self taught knitter that I am… I didn’t even KNOW there was more than one way to cast on. I have always knitted on to cast on. Now I see from the videos on the forum that there are a bunch of ways…

SO… the question comes to mind, since knitting on works for me and I’ve done it that way for many many years, DO I NEED TO USE THE OTHER methods? Is there a reason for so many different types or is it just personal preferance?

Hi Ginny,

Some of the castons are more stretchy than others, some look better with ribbing than others, and some have a specific purpose such as a provisional caston, tubular cast on, or figure 8 cast on.

Most of the time I use long tale, or provisional but having a choice is always good.

Amy gives examples of which are stretchy, stable, etc., but once you find a caston with the characteristics you need, then it’s a matter of personal preference.

Some patterns will say to use a certain caston, but you’re always free to change.

Have Fun Knitting! :cheering: :happydance:


gina i have just started a cast on tutorial on my blog… (yesterday)

i know 34 ways (at least–i might have forgotten 1 or 2) to cast on!

i will be providing links and references to many of the different cast on’s.

You don’t have to be as obsessed about cast on’s as i am, but its a good idea to learn more than 1 way to cast on.