We’ve all been there. You carefully measure the long tail for your long tail cast on or any of its cousins (eg. Twisted German or Old Norwegian cast on, etc) and you run out of yarn with just a few stitches left to go.
What do you do?
Actually, you have a number of options and only one of those is to pull it all out and start over again.
Let me give you some of the various options that you have when you get into this situation. But first. let me tell you about some of the ways to avoid this situation altogether.
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If you want a more thorough understanding of the long tail cast on, I wrote Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Long Tail Cast On a while ago.
How to Avoid Running Out of Yarn
There are several strategies for ensuring you have enough yarn for your long tail cast on. Even with the most accurate estimate, you may still run out if you are not consistent with the cast on or you miscalculate with all but the two-end version.
Rule of Thumb Method
Measure out 2.5 cm or 1″ for each stitch that you need to cast on . Add a tail for weaving in.
This method works for some yarns. But yarns that are thicker, this may not be enough yarn and for thin yarns, you will end up with lots left over.
This method is fast and but depending on how you wrap the yarn around the needle it can be quite inaccurate.
Just wrap the tail end around the needle 10 times. Pinch the yarn after 10 wraps. Use this length of yarn to measure however many stitches you need to cast on. For example, if I need to cast on 147 sts, measure 15 lengths of yarn that long. Then add a tail to weave in.
Cast On and Count Method
This takes a bit more time but is more accurate. Cast on 10 stitches. Pinch the yarn at the beginning and the end of the cast on and rip out the cast on. Use this length of yarn to measure the amount you need for every 10 stitches. Leave a tail for weaving in and a little extra for insurance.
Two Ends Method
This method is relatively foolproof, but you will have two extra ends to weave in.
Use two ends of the yarn to cast on. One end for the index finger yarn and another (the other end of the ball or another ball of yarn) for the thumb yarn. Cut off the second strand of yarn after casting on and keep working with the index finger yarn.
What to Do If You Run Out of Yarn Anyway
If you don’t want to do the two ends method and you somehow get your calculations wrong, you may, despite your best efforts run out of yarn when doing the long tail cast on. If that happens you have several options:
Rip Out and Try Again
Exactly as advertised. This method works really well if you have cast on a relatively small number of stitches and you want your cast on edge to be perfect.
Switch to a Two Needle Cast On
Two needle cast ons do not require a long tail. If you have cast on a lot of stitches and are only a few stitches shy of the total needed, you can switch to a two needle cast on such as a cable cast on, a knit cast on, a two needle slip stitch cast on or any other cast on that does not require a long tail.
This will affect the look of the cast on but it may be subtle enough a difference that you can live with it. In my opinion, the cable cast on is the closest match from the front of the work when the first row after the long tail cast on will be a wrong side row.
Add Another Length of Yarn and Carry On
Perhaps the best way to finish the cast on if you have run out if yarn before all the stitches are cast on is to temporarily tie on another strand of the same yarn and simply keep working the long tail cast on.
When finished, untie the knot if it bother you and then weave in the ends.
To discuss the long tail cast on and ways to make it easy further, join A Close Knit Community Free Facebook Group.
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