Long Tail CastOn

The long-tail cast-on, or slingshot cast-on, looks complicated at first, but once you master it, it's easy and fast. It produces a neat, elastic edge that looks ropelike on one side and like a row of bumps on the other. You can choose which edge to show on the right side. To make the ropelike edge appear on the right side, you must work your first row after casting on as a wrong-side row.

1 Put a slipknot on your needle, leaving a tail that is the equivalent of 1 inch for each stitch that you plan to cast on, plus a few more inches. For example, if you plan to cast on 12 stitches, leave a tail that is about 15 inches long.

2 Hold the yarn with the tail wrapped over your thumb, and the working yarn over your forefinger, grasping both ends with your pinky and ring finger in the center of your palm.

3 Lower the needle to create a V while holding the slipknot in place with your right forefinger.

4 Insert the needle up and under the yarn that is looped around the outside of your thumb.

5 Move the needle to the right, and use it to grab the yarn from the nearest side of your forefinger.

Is your yarn losing its twist?

Casting on stitches using the long-tail method often causes the tail yarn to lose some of its twist. It ends up looking looser and messier the farther you go. The tail is the yarn wrapped around your thumb, and every time you insert the needle and then drop that loop, you're turning it inside out, causing the tail to untwist a little. You can give a little twist back by pausing every now and then to drop the tail, allowing it to re-twist. As you get toward the end, you can manually twirl the tail a little to finish up neatly.

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