It seems that I have a hell of a time getting the first row right. I cast on and when I'm starting the first row, I get this long piece of thread between the two needles and it messes up the knitting. How can I fix this?
I suspect you're doing the backward loop cast on? That always happens unless it's just a few stitches. Try using a different one like the knitted cast in if you don't want to tackle long tail yet. There are videos at the link at the top of the page.
When asking questions ALWAYS post the name and a link for the pattern if you have it.