On Designing a Lace Triangle III: Cast on

This is part three of an ongoing tutorial on designing lace triangles.  If you’d like to look at parts I and II, click on the links.

In the first and second installments, we talked about the actual work of inserting a lace pattern into the framework of a triangle.  I’d like to take a step back for a moment and talk about the various cast ons that one can use for a lace triangle.

The one I’ve seen most often, and it’s a good one, is the garter tab cast on.  This can be done in one of two ways. You can use a provisional cast on or you can cast on as you normally would, provided you are comfortable with picking up small stitches.

The first thing you’ll need to know is how many garter stitches (if any) you are using for your top edge.  I tend to use two, for no real reason other than that I favor even numbers. You might prefer one, or three, or a whole swathe of them.  However many you plan on using, though, this cast on will work to make a neat shawl edge.

Cast on, using a provisional cast on, or your favored method, the number of stitches you’ll be using for your garter edge. For the sake of this tutorial, I used three stitches, and a cabled cast on, which is my favorite cast on.  Knit in garter stitch for six rows, which will create three garter ridges.  What you now have is a small rectangle that will eventually become the center of your top edge.

At this point, in our demo swatch, we have three stitches on the needles.  Depending on the number of edge stitches you’ve chosen, you may have more or less.  Next, pick up and knit one stitch from each garter ridge, working along the top edge displayed above.

You now have your original stitches on the needles, and three more.  These three are your shawl body.

At this point, if you have used a provisional cast on, it is time to unzip your cast on edge and knit the live stitches onto your needles.  If you used a closed cast on, as I did here, you will pick up and knit along the cast on edge, picking up as many stitches as originally cast on.  In my case, three.

You now are ready to begin your shawl set up.  You have three garter edge stitches at either end and three shawl body stitches in between.

But let’s say you are not too keen on the garter tab cast on and would prefer something simpler.  It’s also possible to use a cable cast on.  This will mean that you will have three stitches in the top center of your shawl that do not perfectly match the rest of the shawl, but it’s not very noticeable, and the edge it creates is still a nice one.

The cabled cast on is very similar to a knit cast on.  As usual, you begin with a slip knot placed on the left hand needle.  Insert your right needle through the loop as though to knit.

And actually, knit is exactly what you are going to do.  Draw the yarn through the loop as you would with a knit stitch, but place the stitch on the left hand needle rather than leaving it on the working needle.

From here on out, however many more stitches you want to cast on, you will put the needle between the two newest stitches, rather than through the most recently cast on stitch.  This creates a much more attractive and flexible edge.

My patterns require you to cast on five stitches, but you will determine your own number by figuring out the number of edge stitches you wish to have.  The basic formula for number of cabled cast on stitches is this: 2 x [the number of garter edge stitches] + 1 stitch for the shawl body.  Clothilde and Arabella use two garter edge stitches, so it works out to (2 x 2) + 1 = 5.

Once you have your cast on, it’s a fairly simple matter to increase to the necessary number of stitches to begin your shawl set up, discussed in the previous two installments.  Yarn overs will create a lacy look in keeping with the rest of your shawl.  I’ll write two example set ups below, using 3 garter edge stitches for each.

Cabled cast on:

CO 7 sts using cabled cast on.
Row 1 (RS): K3, yo, k1, yo, k3.
Row 2 (WS): K3, p3, k3.
Row 3: K3, (yo, k1) 3 x, yo, k3.
Row 4: K3, p7, k3.
Row 5: K3, yo, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, yo, k3.
Row 6: K3, p11, k3. [17 sts]

Garter tab cast on:

CO 3 sts and k for 6 rows, creating 3 garter ridges.
Keeping the current 3 sts on the needle, pick up 3 sts, one on each garter ridge, and then 3 sts from the CO edge. [9 sts]
Row 1 (RS): K3, (yo, k1) 3 x, yo, k3.
Row 2: K3, p7, k3.
Row 3: K3, yo, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, yo, k3.
Row 4: K3, p11, k3. [17 sts]


4 Responses to “On Designing a Lace Triangle III: Cast on”

  1. Felicia from sweetgeorgia Says:

    Great tutorial here… and your photos are so clear. I’m going to go check out the other tutorial parts too!

  2. Jodi Says:

    You are AMAZING!! This is exactly what I was looking for so I could start fiddling about with design elements. I bought the knitting lace triangles book, but couldn’t really make the leap from it to my own stuff (I’m sure if I just read it a few more times it would eventually make it through my thick skull, but still…). I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this. 🙂

  3. SassySean Says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. It is beautifully done and very informative. I provided a link to it in the Small Shawl Lovers Techniques and Resources section of our group list on Ravelry!!

  4. annette winkler Says:

    want to buy yarn that has sparkles in it that i could knit or crouchet a shawl

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