Tutorial: Garter Tab Cast On

Recently I had to make a little tutorial video for my upcoming book and guess what? I really, really enjoyed making it and want to make more! I get lots of great questions from knitters, and I think having some photo and video tutorials will be perfect for answering the most common questions I receive. A video or photo is definitely going to explain things better than my wordy email response, right?

First up.... It's the Garter Tab Cast On!

This cast on is most commonly used in top-down shawl knitting. If you're like me and love to knit shawls, it's definitely one you want to know. The shawl pattern you choose will tell you how many stitches to cast on, rows to knit and so on. For this example, I'm going to start with 3 stitches and end the garter tab with 9 stitches - that's a pretty common start to these shawls.

I start by casting on 3 stitches. Easy. I like to use either a long-tail cast on or a knitted cast on, but that's up to you. I'm going to pick up stitches in this cast on later, and I find either of those work good for that.
Then I knit 6 rows. With only 3 stitches, that goes pretty quick!
Next I turn 90-degrees...a little knitted flag! :)
Now I need to pick up 3 stitches. I find the easiest way to do this is to use my left-hand needle and insert them into the 3 garter stitch bumps along the side.
Then I knit those picked up stitches on the left-hand needle like they are regular stitches - now I have 6 stitches on the needle.
I turn 90-degrees again. Not looking quite as pretty as that first 90-degree turn I made.
Now it's time to pick up 3 stitches from the cast on edge. It's not as easy as last time. There are no pretty little garter stitch bumps to pick up. I just do my best, and with my left-hand needle, pick up three loops of yarn from the cast on edge. As long as I'm careful not to split the yarn, I'll be fine.
I finish up by knitting those three picked up stitches. As planned, I end up with 9 stitches on the needle. Hooray!
The shawl pattern will tell me what to do next. I'd probably be working a wrong side row or some kind of increasing row.

Not too bad, right? And, don't be worried that it doesn't look perfect. We are talking about a tiny amount of knitting (probably in a fingering weight or lace weight yarn). No one is going to notice if those stitches picked up along the cast on edge aren't perfect. I say anyone that is close enough to notice that in your shawl is standing too close to you. :)

And that's the garter tab cast on. Have a any tips or tricks you use when working this cast on? I'd love to hear about them.

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