Long Tail Vs Knit On - Does it matter?

When I started knitting, my mentor showed me the long tail cast on method. When I did a pattern that had me knit-on stitches, I started using the knit-on method to cast on. I was tired on messing up my estimation of how much yarn I would need for the long tail cast on method. However, I see many patterns specify long tail.

Is there a difference? Does it matter?

I read somewhere that the long tail cast on is the equivalent of casting on and knitting a row. Is that true?

Different types of cast-on can be better suited to various projects.
While being open to learning new techniques, to keep knitting enjoyable, use what YOU like best!

@qfknit this has a wealth of information, thanks for researching and sharing it.

Wow! Thanks for taking the time and making the effort to put all these resources in one place @qfknit !

Thank you for all the links, qfknit. I have bookmarked your post.

You are all very welcome!
I learned many techniques years ago, from BOOKS! Among the most notable:

  1. “The Complete Book of Knitting” by Barbara Abbey (1971),
  2. “The Knitter’s Handbook: Essential Skills & Helpful Hints from Knitter’s Magazine” Elaine Rowley, editor (2015) spiral bound.
    Because I knew exactly the information I was looking for… it was quick and easy to find links to videos containing the info. As much as I love my books, I absolutely love videos for sharing how-to’s with others. Videos by VERY PINK have been some of my favorite, but I do not always find the techniques I’m looking for, demonstrated by Very Pink.

I’m with @knitter131 :grinning: That is a wealth of information. Thank you @qfknit so very much!

I searched before but never saw all this. My particular favorite is the one that shows how to estimate how much yarn is needed for the long tail cast on. I love the idea of being able to follow my patterns better.

So my follow-up question is…

If I substitute the knit-on method for casting on instead of the long tail method, should I knit 1 row after casting on before proceeding in a pattern (assuming the pattern specified long tail)?

It is up to you @K2-Tog -
If you’re knitting stockinette flat, and the first row you work after the cast on is all knits, that establishes the front of the piece. If the first row you work after the cast on is all purls, that will establish that as the back of the piece. You may consider making a couple of swatches to see if you prefer one side of the cast on and want it to be on the front.

Personally, I do not create a row of all stockinette (or all reverse stockinette) after casting on by an alternate method (when long tail was recommended).

This is because I cast on long-tail IN PATTERN (both knit and purl stitches).
Therefore if casting on by an alternate method, I begin following the pattern immediately with the first row.
This is just my personal preference… not a hard and fast rule.

@qfknit - Like you, when I do an alternative cast on, the next row will be in pattern.

Suppose you cast on using the knit-on method as an alternative the long-tail and the pattern stitch is stockinette, how do you decide which will be your front or back? I go by which side of the cast on I like the look of better and begin my first row to establish as either the front or the back so that the preferred side of cast on winds up on the front. Do you do it differently?

@ EllenDeKnitter I usually follow the pattern after I cast on and determine WS and RS by the pattern. Other than that, I really don’t know because I have a pattern. Lol, I feel like that’s not a good answer.

I think it’s a perfectly good answer @K2-Tog !

Update: I got a little better estimating with the long tail cast on. Then, I tried the cable cast on which was really interesting - it is similar to the knit on cast on. I was working in the round and did something weird with the join that’ll have to be fixed when I’m finishing.

Thanks for all of your help! :+1:

(Sorry it took so long to try then give an update - been very busy at work :woman_technologist: and it’s eating into my knitting time :yarn: Yikes!)