Saturday, November 29, 2014

How Long is Too Long?

I'm pretty good at making things for people when they ask me to. As long as they don't have a scary deadline (I've mentioned that I'm slow, haven't I?) or are way beyond my skills. No sweaters. I've never knit a sweater. Not for anyone. They scare me. I have images of mismatched sleeves and droopy necklines dancing in my head.

Anyway, a hat was requested and the request was specific enough for me to be able to choose the pattern and yarn. But there were requirements. It had to be black and it had to be manly - nothing fancy he said.

I knew of just the pattern - Naylor Street, and I had some lovely Plucky that would be perfect. I set to cast on.


Everyone seems to have a favorite cast-on. My go to cast-on is the long tail method that my grandmother taught me when I was learning to knit. The only problem is that I can't seem to set aside the right amount of tail. I heard that you can wrap the yarn around the needle 10 times and then use that as a the 10 stitch measurement to cast on. I did this with this hat, and it seemed way too long. But I kept going, I was following a rule. I was about half way done and I should have stopped, but I didn't. When I got to the right number of stitches on the needles I had about 3 FEET of tail left! How did that happen? I must have miss counted. So I started over. The second time showed promise. But again, way too long a tail - about 2 feet. I have no idea where I was going wrong. The tail was over my thumb while casting on so I was using the "correct" yarn.

The third time, I decided to be "smart" and measured the space between first and last stitches of the horrible cast on knowing that had to be the right measurement. And theoretically it should have worked. So this was the long way of excusing myself for this extra long tail.


No way was I going to start again so I just kept going and despite the crazy start the hat itself turned out lovely. But it still leaves me wondering about cast-ons options. 

I polled the knit night group:
  • Person A would just knit it into the beginning, holding the tail and working yarn together.
  • Person B would just leave it as I did.
  • Person C would have cast on again.
  • Person D doesn't like long tail and only uses the cable cast on.

What say you smart knitters out there - What would you do?

Don't forget about the sale!


Renee Anne said...

That long of a tail after I had already done it unsuccessfully twice prior? I'd probably knit the tail with the working yarn and call it good. If it were shorter (half that, perhaps), I'd just leave it and weave it in at the end. But I tend to do a knitted cast on for hats...

Elizabeth D said...

Unless you are terribly short of yarn, I wouldn't worry that the tail is "too" long. Cut it down if it bothers you, and weave in the remainder as part of finishing the hat. I use longtail or twisted German (longtail with an extra twist, so stretchier) for hats.

Anonymous said...

I only know knit cast on & cable. Never learned long tail.

Theresa in MI

IrishGirlieKnits said...

We should get out our notes from JC Briar's Cast On class at Sock Camp....she had all the best tips! I think I use the twisted German cast on for a lot of my projects too.

And I don't worry about the too long cast ons to be honest.

Either way, the hat looks great!!

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't have bothered me the first time unless I was worried about having enough yarn. If have just tied it up. But it isn't my preferred cast on, I can't remember the last time I used it!

Anonymous said...

Cable cast, just because I was taught it first and when I do long tail I run out or have too long an end.

Tricia @CheekyAttitude said...

Thanks for all your comments everyone. I feel better knowing that I shouldn't worry too much about a "too long" tail.

dublindye - What's your preferred cast on?

I love hearing about other knitters methods. I always learn something new.

pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

I only worry about too long tails if I'm not sure I have enough yarn. I clip the extra tail and weave in the end. I'd be more worried about not having enough of a tail, especially if I'm casting on hundreds of stitches. Here's a way to use two strands of yarn to make a long tail cast on; you'll never run out of tail this way.

Anonymous said...

i also have tried thew wrap around the needle approach and it gives me way too much leftover yarn. it makes no sense to me how that happens.