This is a handy photo tutorial for my Calamus cowl (Ravelry link) pattern or any other pattern with a big cast-on number.

If you’re knitting something where you’re required to cast-on a lot of stitches with a long-tail cast-on then you usually need to estimate how much yarn you’re going to use before you start. For example, I normally go for three-times the circumference of the finished item, so for a hat it would be three times the circumference of the brim, or for a glove, I might just wrap the yarn around my hand three times.

However, this doesn’t always work out and I don’t think anyone wants to run out of yarn 300 stitches into a 350 stitch cast-on! Here’s a handy way to do a long-tail cast-on without having to estimate your yarn, using two balls of yarn (here I’ve used one cream and one blue so it’s easier to see).

First, find the ends from two separate balls of yarn (you could also do this with the inside and outside ends of the yarn from one ball, but it might get a bit tangled) and tie them in a knot. Place the knot on top of the needles so that the yarn is straddling the needles:


Now twist the yarns underneath the needles, to make the loop a bit securer before you start your long-tail cast-on. You can use whichever method you prefer; I’m using the sling-shot method here. Please note that the loop or stitch created by the knot, doesn’t count as a stitch!


Once you’ve cast-on all the stitches, set up your knitting for working in the round, as for the Calamus cowl, (or if you’re knitting flat then just go ahead with the next instruction). I’m working in magic loop here but it’s the same for regular circular knitting.

Now undo the knot and the initial loop that was around your needle. You can also cut one of the yarns that you used for your cast-on, (usually the one on the inside of the work, but it doesn’t really matter) so that you only have one working yarn attached. In this example I’ve cut the cream yarn and I’m going to knit with the blue:

Now you’re ready to start working on your project and knitting all those lovely cast-on stitches!


Top Tip: If the thought of casting-on hundreds of stitches daunts you, try splitting up the cast-on into blocks of 50 and place a marker after every 50 cast-on stitches. This not only helps make the cast-on seem more manageable (350 stitches becomes 7 x 50, rather than 350 individual stitches), it’s also a handy way to keep count!