Knitting Nuances

A 2015 – 2018 Top 100 Knitting Blog!

6 Tips to Fix a Tight Cast On

Starting a new project? How exciting! 

The last thing you need is the frustration of a too tight cast on.  It’s bad for your knitting, strangles your yarn, is exhausting for your hands and makes the first row miserable to knit.

Sound familiar? I hope not. This is certainly not the way to start something that’s supposed to bring you joy.

Teaching in a yarn shop gives me a wonderful opportunity to meet knitters – lots of them. The most common issue I see, by far, is tight knitting. This includes the long-tail cast on. Many of my small classes are sidelined for the first 15 minutes while we deal with a tight cast on since I stubbornly helpfully won’t let knitters move on until they have a workable edge. 

The decorative Resilient Cast On

It was one particular project class that included my very favorite Resilient Cast On that led to this blog post and support video. Half of the twelve knitters in the class could not work this decorative edge because their initial cast on was too tight. Since I couldn’t delay the entire class, they missed out on the opportunity to try this new cast on. They felt bad, I felt worse. Turns out that tight cast ons are not a great way to start a class either. 

6 Steps to an Improved Cast On Experience

I’ve identified 6 tips I know will help you fix your tight cast on and included them in this video on the Knitting Nuances You Tube Channel

Some tips, like how not to choke the life out of your yarn, may apply to multiple aspects of your knitting. I can’t tell you how many times knitters come in with an error eight inches below unnoticed because they don’t ‘read’ their knitting. 

Some tips are specific to the long tail cast on, like the three times you may be pulling your yarn too tightly during cast on.

The video ends with a common sense tip – practice, practice, practice. It takes a long time to develop a habit and even longer to break it. It takes your undivided focus and some time. 

I see this all the time with my favorite class – Learn Continental Knitting. At first, every student is frustrated, their left hand can’t hold the yarn properly, their movements are awkward, the needles feel cumbersome. Forty-five minutes later there are a few ah-ha moments. They focus harder on the movement of the right needle as it picks the working yarn from behind the left needle. Then they suddenly realize, as they reset for their next few stitches, that they are quickly and easily wrapping the yarn through their now-not-so-clumsy left fingers. It just took their brain a little while to do with the left hand what was so easy with the right. 

Will you find you need all six tips? Probably (hopefully) not. But I bet you’ll find a little something that will help you or a maybe friend.

One last tip … 

If you can’t quite figure out what you’re doing wrong, use your phone to video yourself as you cast on. This way you can take a close, more objective look and focus on the areas that may need improvement. 

One more last tip …

My standard cast on is a variation of the long-tail cast on. I call it the Alternating Long Tail Cast On (heres the video tutorial link) although other designers have discovered this trick too. This cast on has more give, has a prettier wavy edge and the alternating nature of it makes it much harder to pull too tightly. 

Because of that, I almost never use the normal long-tail cast on. Learning this cast on will also implode your brain … until you practice. Then you’ll have yet another favorite tool in your knitting bag.

We first mentioned this in the Woven Cast On blog post back in 2015.

I hope you find this video helpful. Do you have other cast on tips? I’d love to hear them.

Here is the link to our YourTube Channel. You can find it at Just click on the Videos tab for all our tutorials, a few don’t show on the home page.

5 comments on “6 Tips to Fix a Tight Cast On

  1. Mary Ellen E Sherry
    March 25, 2020

    Were you thinking of me when you wrote this? LOL…

  2. Zoleah Morton
    March 26, 2020

    I like to cast on 2 needles held together. When i reach the end i can pull one out and start knitting. That way the cast on is both loose and even.

    • Laura Cunitz
      March 26, 2020

      Hi, thanks for the comment. Yes, this can work and I’ve certainly seen it before and I’m glad this works for you.
      However, if the stitches are still bunched up, the extra yarn may not be in the place it’s needed (in between the stitches) which can lead to an uneven edge if you haven’t picked the right size companion needle. I’d so much rather knitters fix the issue (tight cast on) instead of finding a workaround.

  3. M Mitchell
    March 27, 2020

    Great video! It’s humbling to find out how much there is still to learn. Thanks for making it painless. 🙂

    Best regards,
    Maureen Mitchell


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This entry was posted on March 25, 2020 by in General, Videos and tagged , , .


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