One of my favorite recently learned knitting tips comes from Colleen Borodkin who works at The Net Loft, here in Cordova. When she’s guesstimating how much yarn to spool out for a long-tail cast on, she uses her shoulder width as a guide: 20 stitches per shoulder length. So if you needed 100 stitches, you’d pull off 5 shoulder-widths of yarn. It’s a measuring stick that’s always with you! It works for me too, and works best with worsted weight yarn, bulkier yarn needs more inches per stitch, so add a few extra lengths to compensate.

Of course, if you’re casting on for a giant project you may want to use both ends of your ball instead of a tail—take the two ends and tie them together, then make your slip knot or just a loop. Since you’re pulling from both ends, you’ll never run out or have too much. Just cut the outside edge before you start knitting. That becomes your tail.

This morning I met with my new contract crocheter–she’s a new but very talented crocheter and she worked up one project for me already, and we’re starting on another. I’m so excited to have someone in town to work with, it means I can design a lot more. We have had torrential rain and gale force winds the last few days and everyone is sick of it. The rain has let up at least for the moment, so I’m headed outside!

How long is your tail?

8 thoughts on “How long is your tail?

  • February 19, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I use the nose-to-hand seamstress's technique of measuring roughly a yard to figure about 30 stitches cast on, again in worsted-weight. . . .

  • February 19, 2010 at 1:23 am

    Ooh, another great measurement that you always have with you. I know too,
    that my fingertip to fingertip measurement is exactly the length I like my
    scarves to be. Very convenient!

  • February 19, 2010 at 1:29 am

    I don't use long tail often (I favor cable cast-ons), but I usually suggest “an inch a stitch”. There's plenty of tail left at 5 st/inch, and enough at 4 sts per inch. Above a size 10 needle, I'd allow more. Under a size 6, you could probably do 3″ for every 4 sts. And a yard is about as big around as my hips. Which I don't leave home without šŸ˜‰

  • February 19, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Oh, darlin' I wish I had your “yard hips…” Mine are a wee bit bigger as
    you can see plainly in this fo-to. An inch a stitch–pretty cool! I would
    much rather have a lot of extra “tail” I just butterfly it and save it for
    seaming, etc.

  • February 19, 2010 at 3:45 am

    Ha! I don't use my “yard hips” much for measuring, but it's totally useful to know stuff like that — or that a dollar measures about 6″, or my index finger to the first knuckle is 1″… and my desk is 5' wide. And you can fold an 8.5 x 11″ piece of paper into all kinds of knowable measurements. The fact that I own at least a half dozen tape measures does not seem to mean that I ever have one handy when I need one!

  • February 19, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Heh. I know. I wish my tape measures had gps locators on them!

  • February 20, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Why has it never occurred to me that I could do a long tail cast on from both ends of a ball?! I think my life is about to change. Thanks for that. šŸ™‚

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