When I first learned to knit back in the day, I could not get the hang of the long-tail cast-on. Granted I was 7 or 8 or some single-digit age like that, but I just couldn't do it. I'd come up with a stringy mess.
When I relearned to knit last year, I still couldn't get the hang of the long-tail cast on. I looked in every single book that I had and tried to follow the pictures, but my hands wouldn't do what they were supposed to do.
A few months ago, I managed to figure it out two-hand style. It was tedious, it was slow, and no matter what I did, it always turned out way too tight. So all these sock sites that said long-tail is one of the stretchiest cast-ons and recommended it OHSOHIGHLY for socks? Laughed in their non-existent faces, did my knitted cast-on, and resigned myself to all my edges looking a little sloppy and loose.
A few days ago, I DVR'ed this episode of Knitty Gritty, because, dude, illusion knitting. I came out of it still not understanding how to make an illusion chart of my own, but there was a bit where Shetha (the guest on the show) demonstrated a long-tail one-handed. I watched it, rewound and watched again, and thought, hmm, that looks fairly easy. Then it all exited my head.
A couple days ago, I needed to cast on for a new pair of socks, as I'd finished the ones I was working on (see last entry...by the way, the pattern for them can be found here), and found myself working a long-tail cast-on one-handed. Somehow...it made sense. It was slow going at first, after all it was something I'd never done before...but as I kept going it got easier. I even managed to have a conversation while doing it (yes, I did lose count a few times, but I didn't have to concentrate on the actual motions). Of course I started knitting on the "wrong side" of the CO, but after I knit a few rounds I realized that the long-tail cast-on when done correctly does indeed S-T-R-E-T-C-H!!!
I consider myself an intermediate knitter. I love cables and texture and don't shy away from a pattern because it seems complicated...I welcome the complicatedness! So how in the world am I JUST NOW discovering long-tail? *grin*
By the way, Bistro is still not completed. I still have to make myself sit down and do those seams. Perhaps tonight.