There are tons of different ways that you can get started with knitting. It’s called casting on, which is how you get all of your stitches onto the needle so that you can begin a project.
While there are so many ways that you can get your stitches on the needle, the long-tail cast on is what I teach all of my beginners, because it’s the most versatile and best looking.
Let’s get started with my favorite method of casting on stitches. It’s called the long-tail cast on. Below the embedded video you will see my written out steps on what to do here.
What you’ll need:
- Yarn (of course) – In the video below, I used Vanna’s Choice yarn. It’s 100% acrylic and one of the softer wallet-friendly yarns that I like to use for projects.
- Knitting Needles – Choose the needles suggested by the label on your yarn. For this demonstration, I used US 9 circular needles (beginners, use straight needles – they come in a package of two with nothing connecting the two needles). You will only need one of your two knitting needles.
- Patience – It’ll take some time to learn how to cast on your stitches and usually I took an entire 2-hour class period for teaching my students this method. That way they could practice over and over again and then get their project started before the end of class. Don’t get frustrated, every one takes quite a few tries before they get it.
Here we go!
- Make a slip knot and place this loop on your knitting needle. This counts as one of your cast on stitches. So, for example, if the pattern you’re making says cast on 36 stitches, that slip knot counts as one of those 36 stitches. Woohoo, you’ve already started something!
- Grab your tail. It’s important to remember that for how I teach the long-tail cast on, the tail of your yarn is always looped on your thumb. Thumb and tail both start with the letter ‘T’ and that’s how I remember.
- Wrap the tail around your left thumb. Just as shown on the video, once you grab the tail of your yarn, you’re going to wrap the yarn around your thumb, forming a loop. It’s very important that you start the wrap by bringing your thumb from over the top and loop the thumb around in a counter-clockwise motion.
- Wrap the working yarn around your left index finger. Your index finger is going to come up from underneath the working yarn, the strand that is attached to the ball of yarn. The next step will help form that loop around your index finger.
- Rotate your left hand to get your yarn into position. The video is better at demonstrating this, but you’re left hand is going to rotate so that your palm is face up. That act helps loop the yarn around your index finger and thumb and makes the loops presentable for the act of casting on more stitches.
- Thread the needle through the loop on your thumb from below. Refer to the video for this step. Your needle tip will come from underneath the loop and through said loop.
- Grab the yarn from your index finger with your needle and pull through the thumb loop. Essentially, you’re pulling that top yarn, the index finger yarn, with the needle and pulling it through the loop on your thumb. Keep watching, the magic is about to happen.
- Drop the thumb loop. What?! Yes, I promise. Drop that loop off of your thumb. That will allow the loop you just made to close onto your needle.
You’re going to repeat steps 3-8 for the complete number of stitches that you need to cast on.
Some helpful hints:
- You can use your thumb to tighten the stitches onto the needle, but don’t pull too tight.
- If your cast on stitches are too tight – the stitches should be snug on the needle, but loose enough to move freely once you start your next row – start over and keep playing around with tension.
- Don’t drop the yarn from both fingers every time, just the thumb. The act of re-wrapping the yarn on your thumb can also help tighten your stitches.
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