The garter tab cast on is used to begin a top down triangular shawl. It gives the shawl a professional appearance because it creates a smooth, seamless edge with no dip in the middle that some triangular shawls have.
With that said, a garter tab cast on can be an exercise in frustration because you aren’t sure you’re doing it right. We are here today to show you an easy, fool-proof way to work it!
There are several tutorials online describing a few ways of working this cast on. Some suggest a provisional cast on – for three stitches! That is not necessary! Only one of the many tutorials suggest the magic trick to make working the garter tab cast on a pleasure and we’re sharing it with you today.
Usually this cast on starts with 3 stitches so that’s what we’ll work with.
Now, here is the all important next step! This one will save you from bafflement, vexation, and tearing out of hair. This is the where the magic is! Gather 3 locking stitch markers and place one on each of the cast on stitches. Just the stitches, not around your needle.
Leave them there and knit 6 rows of garter stitch. Next you’ll need to pick up and knit 3 stitches from the side of your work (see below). Most directions say to pick up the purl bumps in the garter ridges. This is possibly a problematic step because sometimes the purl bumps aren’t obvious. Thank goodness Stephen West suggests merely picking up anywhere along this side as long as you end up with three picked up stitches and a total of six stitches on your needles! Who are we to argue with internationally known and respected designer and teacher Stephen West??
To pick up and knit, insert your needle into the purl bump or wherever you’ve chosen, wrap your working yarn around it as if to knit and draw it through. One stitch has been created.
You’ll end up with a piece that looks much like the one above. The last step is when you will be immensely thankful you learned about the ‘magic markers’. You’re almost done with your garter tab shawl start! Only three more stitches to go.
Grab the first marker and pull it up. You will immediately see the stitch to put your needle through!
Pick up and knit into that stitch. Do the same thing with the other two stitches. The markers make this step, which can be the most formidable of all, a breeze!
And, voila, you have a garter tab cast on! Now is the time to celebrate with wild abandon! You’ve done it! Successfully, easily, and with joy!
We at My Sister Knits cannot take credit for this amazingly magic trick, we can only spread the word. This technique comes from Kelbourne Woolens and we are so glad they thought of using lockable markers as it has made our world much easier!
To search for designs using this technique on Ravelry go to Patterns and click on ‘pattern browser & advanced search’. In the Category box, choose accessories, Neck/Torso, and finally Shawl/Wrap. Then Scroll down the category boxes on the left side of the screen until you find ‘more search options’. From here, select ‘pattern notes’, type in ‘garter tab cast on’ and hit ‘apply’. There are 617 pages of shawls with garter tab cast ons!
Your next step is to come to the shop, choose a luscious yarn, and get started!