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So as I said in the last blog post about what you’ll need to get started knitting, you should have at least one color of a pretty cheap yarn and at least one set of knitting needles. To learn to cast on, that’s really all you need right now.

Your first step will be to make a slipknot in your yarn. Yes, slipknot is more than just a mediocre rock band that was marginally cool when I was like 13.

For the long-tail cast on we’re doing today, where you put the slipknot matters because you want enough yarn to form the stitches you need. A standard rule of thumb is that you’ll need one inch for every stitch you plan to cast on.

A good number to start with is ten stitches, so take the end of your yarn and pull about ten inches plus a little bit for wiggle room, and then make your knot like so:

Slipknot

It’s difficult to put it into words well, but hopefully the gif above is clear. You’re basically twisting a simple loop into the yarn, then pull a loop of the hanging yarn through the first loop. If that doesn’t make sense, just mimic the gif!

Slipknot on needle

Next, just slide that slipknot onto the needle and pull to tighten. BUT don’t make it too tight. This goes for when you start casting on too. When I first started I had a habit of casting on too tightly and then it was painful to actually try and knit with these tight stitches. Leave a bit of slack so that when you start stitching, you’ll be able to get the other needle into the stitch.

Splitting yarn

Once the slipknot is on the needle, put your index finger on the knot to hold it in place then use your other hand to hold the yarn. As you can see in the gif, you’ll hold both the loose end and the yarn that goes back to the ball, then split them apart with your thumb and index finger.

I think to some people it matters which end is which, but I’ve never found it makes much of a difference. So just pick up the needle, hold your slipknot in place, grab the hanging yarn, and separate the strands.

And here it is: the cast on.

Casting on stitch

Notice that the first step is to move the needle toward you and pick up the lower portion of yarn that’s looped around your thumb.

You then point the needle toward your index finger and pick up the upper portion of the yarn looped around your index finger.

You then pull with your thumb and forefinger on each strand of the yarn to tighten. But not too tight like I said above.

So let’s say you want to cast on 10 stitches. Remember that the slipknot counts as a stitch. So to get 10 you’ll go through the motion in the gif above nine times, not ten.

In all its blurry beauty, this is what it looked like when I’d cast on three times:

Cast on

Once you’ve cast on the number of stitches you need, you’ll be ready to get started learning some basic stitches, but that’s a lesson for next time.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the next post!

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