Stretchy Cast On: How to Knit the Long Tail Tubular Cast On

The long tail tubular cast is ideal for projects that need a stretchy trim, such as socks and hats.

For the first few years of my knitting life, I had no idea that there were a variety of cast ons to choose from. My Nannan had taught me the cable cast on when I learnt to knit and that's all I used for years. Little did I know that there are better options available.

The cable cast on is, indeed, lovely. It works very well in situations where you need a firm edge, but it is useless when used on something that needs a stretchy ribbing, such as socks or a hat. The edge is too firm to stretch adequately.

That's where the long tail tubular cast on comes in. This cast on gives a lovely rounded edge to the knitting, much like the edges you get with good quality machine knits. It is also extremely stretchy, with great recovery; ideal for 1x1 rib.

learn to Knit the Long Tail tubular Cast On

Perhaps you've been searching for the perfect stretchy cast on or maybe you've been told to use the long tail tubular cast on in a knitting pattern you're using. Either way, today I will be teaching you how to knit this fantastic cast on, which will seriously improve any of your knitting projects that require a bit of stretch.

I will be sharing the technique via video, as well as written instructions below, so use whichever learning style suits you best. Enjoy!


Grab some scrap yarn and appropriate needles. I will be demonstrating this cast on with a 1x1 rib trim.

The Long Tail Cast On

  1. Cast on with needles one size smaller than the ones you will be using on the rib
  2. Make a slip knot, leaving a very long end (approximately four times the width of the piece you are knitting) and slip it onto your needle. This counts as a "knit" stitch in your 1x1 rib cast on.
  3. Hold both ends in your left hand and separate the threads with your fingers and thumb, with the tail end around your thumb and the long end around your first finger.
  4. With the needle in your right hand, move the needle over and behind the long end, and catch the tail end from the top and loop over needle, bringing it up from under the long end. You've cast on a "purl" stitch in your 1x1 rib.
  5. Now, bring the needle over and in front of the tail end, and catch the long end from the top and loop over needle, bringing it up from under the tail end. You've cast on a "knit" stitch in your 1x1 rib.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have enough stitches. Once you're done, tie the two strands under the needle to secure them.
  7. Now, work two rows in tubular stocking stitch, knitting the knit stitches and slipping the purl stitches purlwise with yarn in front. On the first row only, you will need to knit into the back of the stitch, as the stitches will be twisted on the needle. Knit the stitch as normal on the second row.
  8. You are now ready to knit your 1x1 rib. Remember to go up a needle size for the rib!

The long tail tubular cast on can be a little tricky to get the hang of at first, but I promise that, if you persevere, it will click. Before you know it, you will have gained a new skill that you can use in any project that needs a stretchy 1x1 trim. Not only is it extremely practical - it's aesthetically pleasing too!

If you'd like to practice this technique, I have used it in my Rilo hat, which is a free knitting pattern. You can download this below.



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