As far as the long line between the stitches, my first semi-intelligent guess is that you are using the backwards loop cast on? Do you cast on with one needle sort of making a loop at a time with your thumb and scooping it up with one needle? I only use that method when casting on in the middle of the project and I dislike how loose it can get. When you knit the first row, it get's really long between stitches. As far as a big loop on the end, that's common, as most of the experts on here advise, that last or even the first stitches are only anchored on one side and you just have to sort of tug to tighten it up as you do those stitches and just keep on going.
Hope my two cents helps, but fore sure check out the videos, visuals work best for me.