We’re starting the Snowy Woods knit-along today, and I ask that you start with a long tail cast on. I love the long tail cast on for knitting. It’s stretchy yet firm, and it has definite knit side and purl side. You can choose which side to use as your public side. The only thing I don’t like about this cast on is guessing how long a tail you need to have before you start. There are a couple rules of thumb out there, like multiplying the width of your knitted piece by 3 (somehow related to pi and the circumference around your needle), or wrapping your yarn around the needle 20 times and multiplying to get the number of stitches you want to cast on (5 times if you want 100 stitches, for example). but it can still be iffy. Who hasn’t experienced the heartbreak of being a few stitches short? Ouch.
I came across this fabulous method while I was researching cast ons for my Cast On, Bind Off class. You can use two balls of yarn, or both ends of a center pull ball.
Take the two strands of yarn and use both to make a slip knot about 6 inches from the end.
Put this on your needle. This is not a stitch; it’s just holding your yarn together. Choose one of the strands to be the tail, and the other to be the working yarn, and proceed as usual with the long tail cast on. (This is the same as the thumb cast on, if you prefer to work it that way.)
When you’re finished working the cast on, cut the tail (not the working yarn), leaving 6 inches to weave in. (I didn’t actually cut this here, because I use this piece of yarn for lots of demonstrations.)
Turn and work your first row as you normally do. (Notice that the purl bumps are facing you on this row, because you were essentially knitting stitches on when making the long tail cast on.)
When you come to the double slip knot, undo it (because it’s not a stitch) and continue working.
You’ll have two more ends to weave in, but you didn’t run out of tail when you were casting on! I find this especially helpful if I’m casting on hundreds of stitches. No one wants to run out of yarn while doing that!
On the Snowy Woods Cowl, I want the bumpy side of the cast on (the purl side) to be on the public side of my knitting, and it will be if I use long tail cast on. That’s why I’ve specified which cast on to use. If you prefer to use a different cast on that will leave the smooth (knit) side on the first row, you may wish to adjust your rows so that you still get the right number of garter ridges on your edging.
Are you knitting along with the Snowy Woods KAL? I hope this is helpful to you!