I Love a Good Yarn

Yarns, stories, and sometimes stories about yarn

Naknicromo day 20: Favorite tip or trick?

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Happy first day of spring! We’re still snow-covered here in the mid/upper Hudson Valley, but the sun is out, so the white stuff is receding. Let’s hope the longer days push progress along on that front.

I’d say the best tip I got recently related to casting on when you’ve got a lot of stitches. Unless the pattern specifies otherwise, I always use the long-tail method, which is the one I learned when first starting out. The way the yarn wraps around the left hand and the needle in the right darts in and out, catching the yarn here, and looping it there – it reminds me of those string games we used to do as kids, where we’d make cat’s cradle and jacob’s ladder.

But when you’ve got a lot of stitches going on the needles to start your project, the long-tail method is sometimes a tough one, as it’s hard to gauge exactly how much yarn you need to allow for that long tail. There are a lot of different methods out there for calculating the right tail length, but about the best way to avoid both a lot of extra tail hanging down or, even worse, running out of tail before you’ve put all the stitches on the needle, is to use yarn either from two different skeins or both ends from the same skein. This method is illustrated wonderfully on cocoknits. Something to remember when using both ends from the same skein is to first decide whether you want your working yarn to be pulled from inside or outside of the skein. The leader of my Swirl knit-along referred to this as whether you’re an “innie” or an “outie” (and here I thought she was talking about bellybuttons at first!). This will determine which end of the yarn is used as the tail, and which end as the working yarn.

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