How to Cast On With Two Strands of Yarn

Make a Slip Knot With Two Strands of Yarn
Mollie Johanson

Get ready to cast on your next big knitting project without the hassle of estimating yarn! With this 2-strand method, you can work with the speed of a long-tail cast on, but without the long tail start...sort of. The secret is using another piece of yarn as your long tail. 

A traditional long-tail cast on requires you to estimate or even guess how long your yarn should be for all the stitches you need. There are lots of tips for measuring or estimating, including knitting small samples and multiplying, wrapping the needle, or even roughly guessing based on a length and the number of stitches. These can be great for smaller projects, but on projects with lots of stitches, it's horrible to find out that, 150 stitches in, you don't have a long enough tail. It's also not fun to overestimate and waste several feet of yarn.

For this 2-strand version, pull from two skeins of yarn or from the outside and the center pull on a single skein. When you start with two strands, it works the same way as using a long tail, but you have exactly how much yarn you need because it's all coming from the skein.

The one drawback to this method is that you end up with a few more ends to weave in from that second strand. And while most people don't enjoy weaving ends, when it comes to casting on lots of stitches, this version is still sure to save you time!

  • 01 of 09

    Start With a Slip Knot

    Place the Slip Knot on Your Knitting Needle
    Mollie Johanson

    Hold two strands of yarn together and make a slip knot like you would for crochet or other knitting cast-on methods. Leave the two tails just long enough to weave in later.

    Slide the slip knot onto your knitting needle.

    Continue to 2 of 9 below.
  • 02 of 09

    Hold the Strands Separately

    Separate the Two Strands and Use Your Thumb and Finger to Hold
    Mollie Johanson

    Hold the tails to the side and separate the two strands. Hold the pieces of yarn as you would for a standard long-tail cast on. Wrap one over your finger and the other over your thumb, forming a V coming off the needle.

    The strand that you want to work with for your project should be on your finger and the second strand (taking the place of the long tail) should be on your thumb. This is important if you have a preference for which strand you want to be your working yarn as you continue the project (for example, if you're working from one skein and want to use the center pull strand).

    Continue to 3 of 9 below.
  • 03 of 09

    Use the Needle to Pick Up Yarn Under Your Thumb

    Dip the Needle Under the Lower Yarn on Your Thumb
    Mollie Johanson

    Now you can cast on stitches just like with the long-tail method

    Dip the knitting needle under the lower yarn that's wrapped around your thumb and bring it up. 

    Continue to 4 of 9 below.
  • 04 of 09

    Pick Up the Yarn From Your Finger

    Bring the Needle Under the Yarn on Your Finger
    Mollie Johanson

     Bring the needle under yarn that's wrapped over your finger to pick up that strand. 

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Draw the Yarn Through to Make a Stitch

    Draw Up the Stitch
    Mollie Johanson

    Bring the needle and yarn through the loop on your thumb, drawing up a new stitch.

    Reading through the steps takes longer than the actual process, so be sure to watch the long-tail cast-on video to see this both in real-time and slowed down.

    Continue to 6 of 9 below.
  • 06 of 09

    Continue Casting On Stitches

    One Stitch Cast on the Needle
    Mollie Johanson

     As you pull that stitch around the needle, you should have three strands around your needle. The first two are the slip knot and the last one is your first stitch.

    The slip stitch doesn't count as a stitch and will come off after your first row. So as you count your stitches as you add them, don't count the slip knot.

    Continue to 7 of 9 below.
  • 07 of 09

    Trim the Second Strand of Yarn

    Trim the Front Strand of Yarn
    Mollie Johanson

    Once you've cast on all the stitches you need, you can trim the extra yarn strand. The working yarn should be at the back of your work, so be sure to cut the front yarn. Leave the tail long enough to weave in later.

    Continue to 8 of 9 below.
  • 08 of 09

    Knit Your First Row

    Knit the Row Without Knitting the Slip Stitch
    Mollie Johanson

    Knit your first row according to the pattern, stopping at the slip knot. Remember, this is about to go away!

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Remove the Slip Stitch and Continue Your Project

    Remove the Slip Stitch From the Needle
    Mollie Johanson

    Slide the slip knot off the knitting needle, then pull it to untie the knot. 

    When it's time to finish off your project, weave in all three of the ends from this cast-on process, and be thankful for less estimating frustration!