The Long Tail Cast On is my favorite all-purpose cast on method. It has a lot of names, and there are several ways of doing it. Two ends of the yarn are used to cast on. One end is the long tail and is handled with the left thumb, and the other end is the working yarn (the yarn connected to the ball). The working yarn can be handled with the left index finger or with the right hand. Various names for this cast on are Single Needle CO, Two-stranded CO, Thumb method, Continental method, Slingshot CO.
The Long Tail CO is stable and stretchy, and rather attractive. The loops from the thumb yarn create the edge of the fabric, while the working yarn becomes the loops on the needle. When all the stitches are cast on identically, there is a smooth side and a bumpy side, but you can also cast on in pattern.
[insert photo of smooth side and bumpy side]
Here is a collection of tips and techniques for casting on with this tried and true method.
First, the basic “Continental” method of the Long Tail cast on, with both strands held in the left hand.