PDXKnitterati’s Better Garter Tab Cast on for Crescent Shawls

I have a new shawl design, Lucky Star. It features an elongated garter tab cast on at the beginning, designed to minimize the hump that can occur at the center neck of top down crescent shawls.

Many crescent shawls have this visible hump in the middle; it’s a function of construction and stitch pattern. A short garter tab results in more rows right under the center, creating a hump.

Garter stitch is less humpy than a stockinette based stitch, because the height of the stitches is more compressed. I like to use garter stitch at the center neck of my crescent shawls.

Elongating the garter tab can help smooth out the center. If you add YO’s along the edge of this elongated garter tab, it visually mimics the YO’s along the top edge of the shawl. It also adds flexibility to the center of the shawl neck.

I find this works better if you make a tab long enough to pick up in every other garter ridge as shown in the bottom shawl pictured above. See how this gives those first rows a little more width to stretch out and relax?

Let’s do it! My sample is in garter stitch.

Decide how many working stitches you’d like to have on the first real row of your pattern. Call this N. These are the stitches you’ll use in your patterning. (Don’t include the stitches you’ll increase into at the beginning and end of the row.)

Cast on 3 sts for garter tab. If N is even, knit 2(N) rows. If N is odd, knit 2(N – 1) rows.
Next row (RS): K3, turn work clockwise. *YO, pick up and knit in second ridge from needle, rep from * until you have N sts counting from the YO if N is even. If you want N to be an odd number, end with a YO. Turn clockwise and pick up and knit 3 sts along cast on edge. Now you have N+6 sts. (3 sts on each end, and N in the center.)
Next row (WS): K3, pm, yo, k(N), yo, pm, k3. (For stockinette stitch, purl the N working stitches on this row.) You have N+8 sts: N working sts, and 3 garter stitches and a YO increase at each end.

Here’s a video tutorial.

Now you’re ready to work your shawl. The small bit of hump can usually be blocked out, depending on your stitch patterning. Blocking is essential for top down crescent shawls. And a biasing stitch pattern can still make a hump. Lace where the YO’s are not right next to the decreases can cause biasing, which makes lovely scalloping, but you don’t want it right next to your garter tab beginning. Start with some plain garter at the neck, and gradually move into your stitch pattern after several rows.

Much better! I used this cast on for my Lucky Star Shawl. Many thanks to Ann Berg for test knitting the pink version shown here.

3 responses to “PDXKnitterati’s Better Garter Tab Cast on for Crescent Shawls

  1. Thanks, Michele! I have already experimented based on your preview a while back, and this cast-on makes a HUGE difference! Very generous of you to share!

  2. Pingback: Introducing: Lucky Star | PDXKnitterati

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