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.



Very complicated and makes no sense to me. Thank you anyway


Thank you so much for sharing this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended up with a huge long tail or not enough to finish the cast on.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.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

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published