How to Cast On Using Both Ends of Yarn for Long Tail Cast On
So last week I shared two methods (one far more "technical" than the other) about how to estimate your tail yardage when casting on using a long tail cast on method. I loved reading all of the comments that folks left for their different methods (I laughed especially hard at the visual of a knitter wrapping the yarn around her head - that was great!).
And today I'm back to talk about an alternative that a couple of our members mentioned: casting on using both ends of one skein!
If you haven't yet heard of this, prepare to have your mind blown! Well, it blew my mind, anyway! I had heard of this method from a friend, though had never seen it in action. Then I had to cast on 280 sts for a sweater and I went in search of this method because there is no part of my anatomy to accurately gauge that. :) If you haven't yet read last weeks post, that goofy little anatomy reference will make more sense once you do!
Before I get down to the knitty-gritty (see what I did there?) of the pros and cons (and how-to's) of casting on from two ends of one skein, I would like to address some of the other users comments regarding simply NOT using a long tail cast on method, but instead, using a knitted or cable cast on. That is ABSOLUTELY an option - if you prefer short tail cast ons (like the Knitted Cast On or the Cable Cast On) please feel free to use those! They're great alternatives, each with their own pros and cons. I always encourage folks to do what they feel is best for their own knitting happiness. I, however, tend to be a moderately lazy knitter and therefore just follow the instructions from the designer, working on the assumption that they've chosen that cast on method for a reason. But truly, use the tools in your knitters tool box (the one in your head) and use the best method for you! Ok... let's move on!
How to cast on from 2 ends of 1 skein!
The method of casting on (this is for long tail cast on methods like the Long Tail method or the German Twisted method) from both ends of one skein completely removes the need to guess how long a tail you need to wind off in order to cast on your total number of stitches.
Step 1: Pull out a length of yarn from the outside of the ball, and the same length from the inside / center of the ball. Holding these two tails together, place a slip knot about 6" / 15 cm from the ends and place the slip knot onto your needle.
Step 2: Transfer the needle into your right hand (if it's not already there), and holding the needle with the tip pointed to the left, you should have the two 6"/ 15 cm tails AND the two long ends of yarn from the inside and outside of the cake available.
Step 3: I find it's easiest to tuck the short tails up into my hand so they're not in the way, and then set up my hands for a traditional Long Tail Cast On or German Twisted Cast On method using the two tails attached to the inside and the outside of the cake/skein/ball.
Step 4: Cast on the total number of stitches required, plus 1. This "plus 1" is counted as the original 2-stranded slip knot you placed on your needle back in step 1. For example, if you need to cast on 10 sts, you will cast on to 11 sts, INCLUDING that initial cast on slip knot.
Step 5: At the end where you have just finished casting on your stitches, cut the tail attached the the skein that you do NOT want to work from. For example, if you like to work from the center of a cake / ball / skein of yarn, cut the long tail that is attached to the outside of the cake / ball / skein of yarn, leaving a tail long enough to weave in later. If you prefer to work from the outside, cut the tail attached to the center.
Step 6A (if you are working flat): Turn the work and put the needle with the live sts in your left hand. You can knit across your row, WITHOUT knitting the initial 2-strand cast on slip knot. When you reach this slip knot, drop it off your needle and unravel it.
Step 6B (if you are working in the round): Place your marker and join for working in the round. BEFORE YOU KNIT THE FIRST ST, slip the initial 2-strand cast on slip knot off the needle and unravel it. You do not want this to be part of your stitch count.
How to Video
I'm someone who had to sit down and watch a video to get the hang of this method. Someone said to me "Well, you know, you just, cast on from both ends" to which I'm pretty sure my face did the "Super Confused Emoji" thing. I hope you'll find this video a good resource when coupled with the above information!
Pros and Cons of Casting On From 1 Skein
Pro: you will never have to make wild guesses (or even educated guesses) about how much yarn you need to wind off for a long tail cast on. It's quick, efficient and stress free.
Con: You end up with more tails to weave in. There are 2 tails at the end where you put your initial 2-strand slip knot on the needle, and there is a third strand where you cut the tail from the working end of the yarn. Now! I realize that's not a big deal for everyone but going back to the comment above about me being a moderately lazy knitter, more tails to weave in is not my jam. With that said, 280 stitches is worth 3 tails... just sayin'!
Admittedly, it's a short pro/con list and I'm sure there's something I'm missing, but having just used this technique, I think when casting on a large number it's hard to beat this method.
What do YOU think of this method?
I know of few of you have tried this method before; do you have a threshold on how many stitches you have to cast on before you go from a standard long tail to this method? I'm a round 100 stitches. I'd love to know what you think of this alternative to the estimating yardage when working a long tail cast on.