Sunday, July 23, 2023

Top Down Garter Stitch Shawls - Triangle


At long last, here is the tutorial for a basic, top down triangle garter stitch shawl.  I will show you two ways to knit your shawl, both are equally easy.  

If you'd like to follow along, any yarn and appropriately sized needle will do.  You'll also want a stitch marker to make keeping track of your center stitch easier.

The yarn I used for my little samples is Premier Hipster Cotton.  I got this at my local Dollar Tree a few years ago, and am not sure if Premier still makes it.  It is a #3 yarn (DK/light worsted) and the recommended needle size is US 6, so that is what I used.  

I used DPNs in the video since I only made tiny shawls.  For regular sized shawls, you'll want to use circular needles*.  Circulars come in various lengths, up to 60 inches.  I recommend at least a 32 inch circular; the heavier (thicker) your yarn is, the longer the needle you'll want to use, otherwise things are going to be all bunched up, and in my opinion, difficult to move along the needle, not to mention more prone to dropping off.  Of course you can always use point protectors to keep your stitches safe when you put your work down; I find that when I have a lot of stitches bunched up on a too short needle, sometimes a few will slip off while I am actually knitting.  Point protectors don't help in that case.  *If you are using a very fine lace weight yarn, you can get a decent sized shawl using very long straight needles.

There are of course other ways to go about making a top down shawl - the two methods here are just the basics to get you started if you've never made a top down shawl before.  That said, even if you are an experienced knitter, sometimes you just want a simple project to work on while you binge your favorite show or listen to an audio book, and don't want to have to bother keeping track of too much detail.  A top down garter stitch shawl fits the bill.

You'll want to bind off loosely so the edge has enough stretch for blocking.  There are a lot of stretchy bind offs, choose whichever you prefer.  I show the k2tog tbl bind off (aka decrease bind off, aka several other names) in the video.

I only knit about ten rows for the mini shawls in the video; if you are making a mini practice shawl, you can stop there and bind off.  If you happen to like how your mini shawl looks, by all means continue on until it is as big as you want.

A word about gauge - yes, it is important if you're knitting something that you want to fit correctly like socks and sweaters.  It isn't quite so important for shawls.  You certainly can make a gauge swatch if you want to, especially if you want to make sure you end up with a shawl of a certain size.  I personally never make a gauge swatch when I am making my own shawls. 

Before we get started, I want to share a tip - while it is quite easy to distinguish between the increase rows and plain knit rows, attaching a stitch marker to one side or the other is an easy way to keep track of which side you're working on.  


k = knit

yo = yarn over

pm = place marker

sm = slip marker

kfb = knit into the front and back of the next stitch

The first shawl uses the yarn over increase.

Cast on 3 stitches

Row 1: k1, yo, pm, k1, yo, k1

Row 2: knit

Row 3: k1, yo, knit to marker, yo, sm, k1, yo, knit to last stitch, yo, k1

Repeat Rows 2 and 3 to desired length, bind off, weave in your ends and block.

The second shawl begins the same way as the first, then uses the knit front/back increase.

Cast on 3 stitches

Row 1: k1, yo, pm, k1, yo, k1

Row 2: knit

Row 3: k1, yo, knit to marker, yo, sm, k1, yo, knit to last stitch, yo, k1

Row 4: knit

Row 5: k1, yo, knit to 1 stitch before marker, kfb, sm, k1, kfb, knit to last stitch, yo, k1

Row 6: knit

Repeat Rows 5 and 6 to desired length, bind off, weave in your ends and block.

Enjoy your new shawl!

Friday, June 23, 2023

Tubular Cast On for 2x2 Ribbing


This is an excellent cast on for flat k2 p2 ribbing that creates a neat, tidy edge.  Not quite as flexible as the k1 p1 tubular cast on, but much more flexible than regular long tail cast on.  The tubular cast on eliminates the ridge along the bottom edge created by the regular long tail cast on, and creates instead an edge that resembles fabrics on store-bought items.  If you want to add a more professional look to your knits, this is a great cast on to use.

You will need some waste yarn in a contrasting color that is the same weight as your project yarn.  You can also use a lighter weight yarn if that is all you have on hand.  Preferably, the waste yarn should be smooth to make removing it easier.

A refresher on 2x2 Ribbing:

**Multiple of 4 - this will result in one edge of the fabric being k2 and the opposite edge being p2

Row 1: k2, p2

Repeat for pattern

**Multiple of 4 + 2 - this will result in both edges of the fabric being k2 

Row 1: *k2, p2; rep from *, end k2

Row 2: *p2, k2; rep from *, end p2

Repeat these two rows for the pattern

Step 1: With the waste yarn, cast on about half the required number of stitches.  You can use any cast on you like.  Knit a row, then purl a row.  At this point, you can cut the waste yarn and introduce your project yarn to continue working in stocking stitch for three more rows.  You should end with a knit row.

Step 2: The next row should be the wrong side of the stocking stitch fabric, and you should easily be able to see the purl bumps created when you began working with the project yarn.  It is these purl bumps that will be picked up as the row is worked - - this is why you want to use contrasting yarns, otherwise it will be rather difficult to see to pick up stitches.  In the picture below, you can clearly see the row of purl bumps in blue yarn on my sample.  


row of purl bumps to be picked up

Begin by purling the first two stitches on the left needle.  Then, with the tip of the right needle, pick up the first purl bump, inserting the needle from the top (as shown below), and place the stitch on the left needle. When placing this stitch on the left needle, the tips of each needle should face each other as you make the transfer (as shown below).  Now knit the stitch.  Pick up the second purl bump and place it on the left needle, and knit it.  You should now have two purl stitches and two knit stitches on the right needle.

picking up a purl bump with right needle

transferring the picked up purl bump to the left needle

Step 3: Continue purling two and knitting the two picked up bumps until you have two purl bumps waiting to be picked up and one stitch on the left needle.  Pick up and knit the next purl bump and knit; pick up the last purl bump and knit into both the front and the back of this stitch.  Then purl the last stitch on the left needle.  

Step 4: Continue working in k2, p2 ribbing for a few rows, until you have a stable piece of fabric.  

Step 5: Once you have a stable piece of fabric, it is time to remove the waste yarn.  Choose either the tail from the cast on edge or the tail you cut before joining the project yarn, I chose the tail I cut when I was done with the waste yarn in the video.  

 waste yarn can be removed by unraveling either the cast on tail or the tail cut before joining the project yarn

Just give the fabric a gentle tug to loosen things up, and then pull out the loose tail and unravel the stitches until the waste yarn has been removed.  You may find a tapestry needle helpful, especially along the cast on edge.

Now you are ready to continue with your project!