How to Long Tail Cast On without Estimating Tail Length

Long Tail CO creates a neat edge but you are often left with too much tail or run out before you have enough stitches. When a pattern requires you to CO 200 stitches, how do you estimate how long a tail to leave? You don’t.


Here’s how to CO without having to estimate the tail length:


Step 1

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


Step 2

Leave at least 3" on each tail, tie the ends together with a slip-knot


Step 3

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


Step 4

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


Step 5

With left hand wrap yarn around finger and thumb (as seen in photo and video)


Step 6

With right needle, come under thumb loop of left hand


Step 7

Then come over finger loop and draw a loop of yarn from the finger loop through thumb loop


Step 8

Release, tighten up that stitch, and reposition fingers/ hands for next cast-on stitch.


Step 9

When you have all stitches CO (do NOT count the initial slip-knot), cut one of the working strands, leaving a tail that you can later work in.


Step 10

Begin knitting with knitting with the un-cut strand of yarn and when you come to the other end of your CO, get rid of that slip-knot, just slide it off the needle and pull out the knot.

If you are casting on fewer stitches, check out the traditional method.



Que msrveillosa es muy facil. Gracias!!


Hi Jeannine, the bamboo needles are Takumi and are made by Clover.


Wow bonne idée
J aimerais avoir les mêmes aiguilles, ou puis-je me les procurer svp?


oh my gosh, that is amazing, thank you so much!


Im absolutely lost for words this is amazing just wwwoowwwww thank you for sharing


Hi Jennie,

When you wind your cake, we recommend keeping the inside tail poked out so it’s easier to find. Hope that helps!


I am always flummoxed in finding the end from inside a ball of wool so that I can do this trick with a single ball (I am seldom working with more than one ball. I believe you are supposed to be able to find that inner end easily but that is seldom the case for me.


wow. i usually have a problem estimating.


Love this !


I’ve been using the long tail co for my entire knitting life (64 yrs), this is brilliant! Thank you.


This is absolutely brilliant! I’ve done twice now, once in the round and once for a stole sort of thing. Both times with way less than 200 stitches, both worked fine (in the round required a bit of fiddling). Not sure why you only say to use for 200 + stitches, but I may never do traditional long tail again no matter the number required. Many thanks for this.


Well, this is going to save me a lot of fuming! :-). Thanks!


Nanzie – We’re so glad!!!

Gloria – Could you send us an email and specify what Cocoknits pattern you’re working on at ? Thank you!


OMGosh thank you for this life saver technique!!


I know the instructions when using * to *. However, now they are using ( ) with no instructions afterwards. Here the row’s pattern:

K8, YO, SSK, (K12, YO, SSK) across to last 11 sts, K 11.

So does it mean I continue across with JUST the sts in the ( )?

Thank you so much for your help! Your estimating tail length has been a Godsend!


That is genius and so simple. Why didn’t I think of it. Thank you so much.


Irene & Carol – Yes, cut one and knit with the other. Two tails to weave in, but the guessing game is gone.


Irene & Carol – Yes, cut one and knit with the other. Two tails to weave in, but the guessing game is gone.


Irene & Carol – Yes, cut one and knit with the other. Two tails to weave in, but the guessing game is gone.

John Griswold

As the instructions say, just cut one of the stands long enough to weave in, and just go about knitting.

Kimberly Hanson



Here I was, trying to find an easier way to long-tail cast on 200+ sts while using 2 strands of fingeringweight yarn, after coming up short by 50 sts.
Thank you SO much for this!!!


I do not understand how to continue on knitting when I have finished casting on with with the two tail cast on. Can you please explain?


What do you do at the end of casting on? Now that there are two strands of yarn at the end, do you just cut the one you don’t use and have two tails?


I always slip the 1st and knit the last stitch – no matter what the pattern says. When working increases/decreases I always work my increases/decreases after the 1st or before the last stitch. It gives a better finish and makes it easier for sewing together when finished.

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