Estimating Long-Tail Yarn Length

The Long-Tail Cast On is one of my preferred methods, and when only a few stitches are needed, it's pretty easy to 'guestimate' how long the tail should be, plus it doesn't really matter if it's a bit too long as you can always cut it when sewing in the ends. However, there is a little 'trick' I was taught by a friend when I first started to knit. She advised me to estimate the tail length when I need to cast on a lot of stitches, because it's really frustrating to cast on a few hundred stitches before you realise you don't have enough!  

Wrap the required yarn around the needles you will be using TEN times (you can use any number, but ten keeps it easy). Then unwind the yarn from the needle, keeping a note of the length used.

Once you know how much yarn you will need for ten stitches, it's easy to estimate how much to leave before making the first stitch in your Long Tail Cast-on. Be sure to leave a little extra to allow for sewing in the ends. In the example below, there is enough to cast on 80 stitches. 

I just used this method for a new project, which will become a beginner-friendly pattern - stay tuned for more information, or you can already catch a few sneaky peeks on my Instagram feed. 


  1. It is so simple now I think about it. Thank you!

    1. You're welcome! The best tips are always the most simple, aren't they?

  2. That's much easier and accurate than the method I was taught when I learnt to knit - measure from hand to elbow for 20 stitches which is fine for DK but not for other thicknesses! Thank you for saving my sanity.

  3. I finally gave in and use both ends of the ball to do a long tail cast on. It does make a couple extra ends to darn in but I never come to the end of my tail with stitches still needed. I tie a very loose knot in the two ends and cast on, then untie the knot, cut the one thread and start to knit. I resisted it for quite a while because of the extra ends to hide but too many times of running out of tail before I finished casting on make me change my mind.


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