Why & How to Use a Garter Tab Cast On
When I begin a new shawl, one of the first things that I do is work the garter tab cast on. It creates a seamless edge at the top of shawls that flows perfectly into the garter stitch sides. It can also provide a more stable foundation for the stitches to come. This cast on method can be used with any shawl design with a little math & planning.
For comparison’s sake, check out the two swatches below. Which shawl edging would you rather show off in your finished piece?
Why Use a Garter Tab Cast On
Aesthetics - most shawls begin at the center back and the garter tab cast on blends seamlessly with the garter stitch edging that forms the top horizontal line of a triangular shawl, or the top edge of a crescent shawl.
Durability - The Garter tab creates a more solid foundation to work thousands of stitches into, especially at the edge that sees the most action (I get my necklaces caught in my shawls all.the.time).
Now that you know why you should work this cast on method, let’s review how to actually get it done.
Cast on 3 sts.
Look at the shawl pattern you want to make. How many stitches do they use for the edging? Cast on this number of stitches for your Garter Tab Cast On.
Knit 8 rows.
Look at the shawl pattern you want to make. How many stitches do you need for the first working row? If you need 3 edging stitches and 10 stitches for the first working row, you’ll need an additional 4 stitches (10 - 3 - 3 = 4). Since this is garter stitch, you will work twice as many rows as stitches needed. 4 sts x 2 = 8 rows.
K3, turn work, pick up & knit 4 sts, turn work, pick up & knit 3 sts - 10 sts
Pick up & knit the # of stitches you calculated in the previous step.
Set Up (WS) - K5, m1, k5 - 11 sts
In my example, I had a total of 10 sts. I wanted a single center spine stitch, so I need one extra stitch to have an odd number of sts.
(RS) K3, yo, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, yo, k3
(WS) Knit to end
(RS) K3, yo, k to center spine stitch, yo, k1, yo, knit to last 3 sts, yo, k3
(WS) Knit to end
Continue as established to start shawl body.
Work the shawl instructions you were provided.
Voila! You’re on your way with a really pretty & clean edging.
Once the stitches of my swatch have been bound off, you can see the neat triangles that were formed with the paired increases. And check out that neat edging!