Pull out a tail that is three times longer than the finished width of the cast on edge.
But–What if the cast on edge is a whole lot of stitches? Say, a scarf with vertical stripes that is five and a half feet long when finished. How do I pull out a tail three times THAT long? I will now share with you some Body Magic. With most humans, the distance between your sternum and the end of your arm when you stretch it out as far as you can is about a yard. A yard is three feet. This means that if you hold the end of the yarn at your sternum with the skein in your hand and extend your arm as far away from your sternum as possible, you will have pulled out about three feet of yarn.
With that in mind, here are the calculations for how I pulled out my long tail to cast on for the five and a half foot long scarf.
- The scarf is meant to be 5 1/2 feet long. Using my rule, I have to pull out 5.5 x 3, which is 16.5 feet, which is close enough to three yards (18 feet) that I’ll go for the three yards.
- I held the end of the yarn to my sternum and moved the skein to my right as far as possible. (I’m right handed.) That’s 1 yard.
- I pinched the yarn at the point it exited the skein and moved that point to my sternum. I moved the skein again to the right as far as I could. That’s 2 yards.
- I repeat that one more time to get to 3 yards. Then I pulled out a bit more, just for safety’s sake.
- I created my slipknot at that point and proceeded with my long tail cast on.
Will you have leftover long tail after you’re done? Absolutely. Consider the alternative, and carry on.