Saturday, October 5, 2013

Painless Provisional Cast On - Part III: The Shawlening

I love knitting triangular shawls. Well, to be fair, what I love is starting triangular shawls. There's always a point in there somewhere when the stitch count is over the moon and I wonder why I don't have a sensible hobby, like carving the Colosseum in a human tooth. And I do love wearing them, provided they are big enough to keep the chill off when skimming through the black void in the arms of my nightgaunts. I don't have many those little shawlette/bandana things; I need something practical for fleeing a haunted castle in.

My favorite way to start a triangular shawl is with a garter tab. Most patterns will have you begin this way, because it gives a perfectly smooth garter edge along the wingspan. Start with a provisional cast on of three stitches. With working yarn, knit an odd number of rows; in this case, I knit seven rows. Make sure you end with a right side row. What's facing you should look like this:
Not like this:
If you loose track of how many rows you have worked, remember that each ridge on the right side counts for two rows. When you've knit seven rows, turn the tab on its side. You will now pick up one stitch in each ridge. Just slip the tip of your needle through the little bumps closest to the edge.

Knit these three stitches. This will lead you down to your cast on edge.
Now, we want to get those cast on stitches live. In the picture above, you can see what looks like two and a half stitches, right under the provisional cast on. We'll turn that half stitch into a whole stitch in a minute. First, slide your free needle through the right sides of the two whole stitches:
...and under that last strand at the edge, holding the tail of your working yarn to the back:
Ready for a trick? Take a smallish crochet hook, and slip it up through the edge of the ridge immediately below your cast on. Grab the tail of your working yarn with the hook, and pull it through the ridge so that it forms a loop around your needle.

Knit these last three stitches. You now have nine stitches all together, with three for each edge and three for the center, and you are ready to work a wrong side row. Go ahead and unzip your waste yarn.

Let's work a few rows, with typical shawl increases, so you can see the what happens.
R1(WS): K3, p3, k3.
R2(RS): K3, [yo, k1] 3x, yo, k3
R3 & all following WS rows: K3, purl to last 3sts, k3.
R4:[K3, yo] twice, k1, [yo, k3] twice.
R6: K3, yo, k5, yo, k1, yo, k5, yo, k3.
Neat, isn't it? This is really all you need to start a triangular shawl. You could keep going and going in stockinette with garter borders, increasing at each edge and on either side of your center stitch, every right side row, until you reach the point of madness. Or you could throw in a stitch pattern or two, just to keep the gibbering at bay.

I hope you've enjoyed this little series!
Painless Provisional Cast On Part I
Painless Provisional Cast On Part II

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