been reading some newly picked-up library books on knitting and ljust learned a new trick with long-tail cast-on:
begin by having the appropriate tail amount for sewing in later hang loose (6-12" usually), then wrap the working yarn around two needles for the number of stitches you're supposed start with, (pattern says cast-on 30, then wrap 30 times). wherever you end, that's where you do your slip knot. unravel/slide off the yarn you wrapped, then begin adding back the stitches.
once you're more comfortable with the long-tail cast-on, you can choose to work this way using only one needle instead of two, to create a more subtle edge.
i've been bad about doing the cast-on a few times until i get it right. measuring/estimating accurately has been an issue.
so thanks, "knitting with balls: a hands-on guide to knitting for the modern man."