No More Estimating Tail Length for a Long Tail CO

I like long-tail CO. I like the neat edge of what would be considered the “purl” side. But how often have you CO 200 of 220 and run out of yarn, ripped, CO again only to have 3 yards of extra tail at the end?

grrrrr… When a pattern (Liesl and Gretel come to mind) requires you to CO 200+ sts how do you estimate how long a tail to leave?

The answer: don’t.

Here’s what to do.  Use two tails of yarn, either from two separate balls of yarn or a tail from the inside and a tail from the outside of a center-pull ball.  Here I have two separate balls of yarn:

Leaving at least 3″ on each tail, tie the ends together with a slip-knot:

Slide the slip-knot onto your needle and tighten it up:

Now separate the two working strands as if they were one long strand and work long-tail CO as usual.

When you have all 500 +/- sts CO (do NOT count the initial slip-knot), cut one of the working strands, leaving a tail that you can later work in.  Begin knitting with the un-cut strand of yarn and when you come to the other end of your CO, get rid of that end slip-knot, just slide it off the needle and pull out the knot.

No more frustration!


  1. Adriana


  2. Olya

    Thank you! Had to rip my cast-on 3 times already… This is a great help

  3. Judy

    Great tip….for years I’ve been wrapping the yarn around the needle 20 times, then taking it off and measuring that length out to as many (x20) lengths I need for LTCO.

  4. Andrea

    Thank you so much ! No more running out of yarn and having to start all over again…

  5. alicia

    Great tip!

  6. Val

    Definitely using this tip. Thanks muchly

  7. Liz

    Great tip, thanks. Some truly useful tips on your website, wish I had found it years ago! Off to try the bias bind off on my latest creation…

  8. Betsy

    Wow! This will be a lifesaver for my next project. I love the LTCO and have had way too many of those “I’m 5 stitches short” or a really long tail that I just do not want to snip short.

    Thanks for this, and all the rest of your tips. Well presented and useful.
    Betsy in the Seattle suburbs

  9. Ema

    Great one! I wouldn’t have thought of this! Thank you!

  10. Obrigada, pela excelente dica, de montagem de cauda longa.

  11. Glenda

    That’s probably one of the best knitting tips ever!! Thank you.

  12. Deb


  13. Marsha

    Brilliant! Learned two things: 1) How to do the long tail cast on without all the frustration! and 2) to not count the slip knot as first stitch. It always bothered me to knit it, but wasn’t clever enough to just slip it off. Thank you so very much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *