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Knitting Tutorial: Long-Tail Cast On Without The Tail

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Special thanks to Mark Rougeux

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Recently, I decided to make a baby blanket [4] for a friend of mine. I gathered the yarn, bought an extra long cable for my circular needles and sat down to start the cast on [5]. Thud. A cast on of 300 stitches using the long-tail method is always a chore for me. I have to estimate how long to make the long tail in order to accommodate the casting on. There are several methods to do that, but once I guess the length and then do the cast on, I either come up short and have to start over again, or I end up with a very long piece of yarn left over. I don’t like wasting yarn. So, I decided to do a cast on using the outer yarn as my working yarn and the yarn from the inside of the ball, the center pull, as the long tail. When you do this you won’t run out yarn or have too much left over.

The center pull is the beginning of the ball of yarn that you can find deep inside. Reach in and give a gentle pull on the mass of yarn in there and see if it can be pulled out.

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I always find this to be a tenuous task because not all yarn has a center pull. Do a bit of research to find out if yours does. To be sure, you can always rewind your yarn using a ball winder. They are designed to create a center pull.

Once you have both ends of your yarn, tie a slip knot holding both ends together. Place the slipknot on the needle. You will not count this as a stitch. It will end up being dropped at the end of the first row of your knitting after the cast-on row.

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Now use whatever method of casting on with the long tail that you like.

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Once you have the correct number of stitches cast on, simply snip the yarn that is coming from the center pull a few inches from the last cast-on stitch. Leave enough to weave in later.

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Tuck the center pull yarn back into the center of the yarn so it doesn’t get tangled in your working yarn and you are ready to knit.

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After you knit the first row of stitches after your cast-on row, stop just before the slip knot stitch. Take it off the needle and just let it hang there. If you like, you may pull the slipknot and untie it at this point, but I like to leave it tied for the first couple rows just to keep things tidy. Begin the next row as normal.

You will notice that you end up with two strands of yarn to weave in where the slipknot was, and another strand where the last stitch was cast on, the strand you snipped.

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This little tip will help you never worry about wasting yarn again! Enjoy.