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The Garter Tab Cast-On for Triangular Shawls

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The Garter Tab Cast-On for Triangular Shawls

Liat Gat - Founder

April 29, 2013

The Garter Tab Cast-On is an ingenious way to invisibly start a triangular shawl. Since most triangular shawls have a small garter-stitch border, you can use this cast-on to invisibly set up your stitches for knitting the triangle from the center-out.

The garter tab cast-on is an ingenious way to invisibly start a triangular shawl.

Garter Tab Cast On

Since most triangular shawls have a small garter-stitch border, you can use this cast-on to invisibly set up your stitches for knitting the triangle from the center-out.

Video below the photo tutorial.

garter tab step 1 - provisional co

1. Use a provisional cast-on to cast on two stitches with a piece of waste yarn.

garter tab step 2 - garter tab

2. Knit 7 rows in garter stitch with your working yarn.

garter tab step 3 - pick up stitches

3. Pick up and knit 3 stitches along the garter ridges.

garter tab step 4 - remove provisional co

4. Remove the provisional cast-on by pulling the loop of yarn you left hanging.

garter tab step 5 - put sts on needle

5. Put the saved stitches on your left-hand needle and knit them.

garter tab step 6 - knit all sts

6. Pick up and knit 3 stitches along the remaining side of the garter strip.

garter tab final resultThe final result can be seen after you work a few rows of your pattern. Can you spot the cast-on? I can’t!

Tips: Remember that the number of stitches to cast on and the number of rows to knit will differ depending on your pattern.

I’m using the numbers from the Show Your Colors shawl, which is a free beginner lace shawl pattern that looks good in sport or even worsted-weight yarn.

Garter Tab Cast-On For Triangular Shawls
Garter Tab Cast-On For Triangular Shawls

Other free triangular lace shawl patterns you can practice this on are The Age Of Brass And Steam shawl and the Holden Shawlette.

This cast-on is brought to you by…

This cast-on is a small part of the top-rate video knitting course, I Love Cast-Ons.

Leave a Comment

Have you had trouble understanding this cast-on before? Did I make it clearer? Leave a comment and let me know!

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86 thoughts on “The Garter Tab Cast-On for Triangular Shawls”

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  1. I’ve looked at many garter tab videos, and never registered how to properly pick up stitches…ie as if to knit. I’ve always gotten a bit of a hump with the garter tab. Now wonder whether, because I think I’ve picked up from right to left (as if to purl), not purposely, but for convenience, that error contributed to hump issue. Garter just done, the way you demonstrated, looks good! Thank you!

  2. Hi Liat, I knit two lace shawls recently and had a terrible time with this very cast. I messed up when I tried to pick up the provisional sts I can’t see what I’ m supposed to pick up, where you made the provisional sts. One of the ladies in the class saw another neat way of doing it using Judy’s Magic Cast On. Someone had put the instructions on Ravelry. It turned out beautifully but I still want to do it the way you show just because. I think it’s a good idea to know more than one way. Now I’ll be happy to get my KnitFreedom Superstar on my new Apple mini iPad. I have to dig up my number. I miss it soooo much. It is the greatest. Dorothy

  3. This is a fabulous cast on method. I just used this to start a long rectangular shawl and am hoping that you will have a corresponding cast off when I finish. I bought your cast on tutorial when it first came out. Thank you.

  4. Sande Francis

    Liat, the link to leave a comment for the Chinese Waitress Cast-on points here to the Garter-tab Start. I think there is something mixed up there.

    Anyway, I was happy to find a cast-on method that I thought would look great for adding new sts to existing knitting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work as expected with garter st.

    I’m making a baby hat with GS earflaps and border, so after knitting the 2 earflaps I needed to cast on the sts between the flaps. So, I knit across the earflap so that the sts and working yarn are on my right hand needle. I have to turn my work so that the working yarn is coming from the last st on the left needle. That means that the Bump side of the GS is now facing forward, so the cast on sts from the CW cast-on is “backwards” cuz the Vs are in front of the cast on. and the first cast on st doesn’t really match the sts already on the needle.

    In my head, this cast on works much better with Stockinette stitch work. I’m going to go ahead and use it for this baby hat anyway, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on this situation.

    1. Hi Sande,

      First of all, OOPS! Thanks for pointing out the wrong link here. I’ve fixed it now. And as far as the Chinese Waitress Cast-On matching garter stitch, I think you may be right. The purled cast-on would probably be more invisible.

  5. Thank you so much for all the videos and so much help for all of us learning to knit.
    I can’t wait to try this

  6. Thank you for this post! I am going to start a shawl this week that starts with a Garter Tab cast on with no provisional cast on (“Targetty” shawl). Can I use your version instead? I am already confused a bit by the pattern instructions.

    Also, I want to thank you for your two-at-a-time toe up socks class – I loved it and it helped me so much!

    1. Hey Rebecca, absolutely! Just make sure you use the same numbers they do for the initial amount of stitches (usually 2 or 3) and the number of stitches to pick up along the tab. Post here and let us know how it looks! And you’re SO welcome for the toe-up socks class – I’m delighted you liked it!

  7. Thanks for the video, can’t wait to use it on my next project. You are so careful to explain it in an easy way. I had no trouble understanding your video. I am not so sure I would have gotten it with the pictures though. Great job!!!!

  8. I love this cast on, it makes a substantial attractive edge and the stretch is just right for the bottom of a sweater I’m making.
    As the yarn I’m using is very thin, I found using a third needle in step seven much easier to cast off the stitch. When using my fingers the needles would slip out of the stitches, but the third needle lets me hold all more securely.

  9. This is GREAAAAAAT! Wow, so much fun to learn another cast on!! It will be added to my “little book of tricks”! Thank you so much, wonderful video!

  10. I’ve never heard of this cast-on before or seen anything similar in the UK, It’s so neat and the look of it nicely partners the common cast-off. It’s not very complicated; I’ll certainly use this one.

  11. I have not seen this cast on before and can hardly wait to try it.
    Thanks for the wonderful new idea

  12. I couldn’t access the video, I was just directed to a site that tried to sell me more apps for my computer. This also happened the last time I tried accessing the video that went along with you pictorial of a stitch. I felt like I had been baited and switched. If that is the case, shame shame on you.

    1. Hi Kathy, I’m so sorry this is happening for you! Of course that is not my intention. I think something funny is going on. I will email you to follow up on this to make sure that you can easily watch these free videos. Thanks for letting me know about this problem.

  13. Sarah Anderson

    Thank you for the Chinese Waitress caston At last I have a caston to match the knit side of my castoffs Yee Haa Love it and your lovely clear video style.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I love that this cast-on makes you go “yee ha!” I feel the same way about it. It’s a gem! It was suggested to me by one of my Facebook followers, and I had to go look it up. Glad I did!

  14. I am now going to have to knit something from the bottom up just in order to use that cast on – it looks so neat! Thanks for a great video.

    1. Haha awesome! Glad you like it. It really is a fun cast-on and a really pretty edge. Try it on something you wouldn’t expect and see what you think!

  15. As a sel taught knitter, who is also a perfectionist your videos and written instruction are helping to make me more satisfied with my finished projects. Thanks so much

    1. Cynthia, I’m delighted that I’ve helped you start to be happier with your projects. I’ve struggled with perfectionism in other areas of my life, and really helped me. Maybe you’ll like her!

  16. Wonder if this might be used on the edge of a sweater as a sort of faux i-cord. Worth fooling around with….. whwn I find some spare time :)

  17. I love the video of the Chinese Waitress Cast-on. Yes, I will try it as it looks like so much fun. Thank you, dear

  18. What a great cast-on (and video!). So much easier and better looking than the cast-on used on my last triangular shawl. Once again, you made everything so clear and easy to follow.

    I’m not sure people realize how something so small in the overall scope of things can make such a big difference in the look of the finished project (i.e., no “bump” in the shawl’s edge). This should be in everyone’s knitting dictionary!

    I can’t wait to see the new Cast-Ons ebook!

    1. Thank you Brian! I think that starting off a project with a neat cast-on like this one sets a nice tone for the whole project.

      Sure beats starting off all confused and frustrated! :)

  19. thank you! this is an awesome way to begin a shawl. Love the pictures, they make it so clear and straightforward. I don’t normally like how clunky the beginning looks…this solves the problem completely.

  20. Yes, I’ve struggled through them before and never been happy with how bumpy they appear becasue I’m sure I picked sts up the wrong way or something. Your tutorials are so clear..including every movement…I told everyone at my local yarn store about you…and they all agree. Looking forward to your “cast-on” videos…something that I often thougth I should do myself but just seemed like a big project for a hobbiest knitter. Thanks for you efforts.

    1. Jan, I can’t believe you’ve told everyone at your knit shop about me. That makes me so happy! I know they will be grateful when you teach them all the new cast-ons you will learn in the upcoming ebook :)

  21. I’m familiar w/garter tabs, but I’m glad I took the time to watch your video. I often have issues with picking up stitches along the long edge of the tab; now I have a better idea how to do it correctly. Like the extra little mini-lesson on knitting backwards. I’ve not mastered it before. I’ve read a bit about it but never actually tried it.

  22. I absolutely love your ‘how to’ videos, they are always so easy to follow. I haven’t made a shawl as yet, but after watching this video, I am definitely going to give it a try in the near future. Thank you so much for all that you are doing because I am learning so much.

  23. I knew that you would get loads of comments! I had to leave one more for you. I wanted to say that I genuinely got butterflies when I got your message about the cast on course. Can’t wait. Thank you

  24. For some reason I couldn’t access the video. What a disappointment! I was planning to do the Holden
    shawlette sometime in the future so this would have been so handy. :(

  25. So far I have not been a shawl knitter, but just love learning new cast ons and bind offs. Never know when this new technique will come in handy. Thanks.

    1. Tanya, that’s great! Even if you’re not into shawls, people are knitting triangular scarves nowadays and wearing them with the triangle part in front, which looks really cool.

  26. Thank you so much for this wonderful video. I’ve knitted a number of shawls, but kind of stumbled through and fudged the garter tab. I was never sure exactly where I was to knit into the garter edge and especially where to pick up the provisionally cast on stitches. The close-up in the video (and the fact that you knit into the same stitch, front and back) made it perfectly clear to me for the very first time. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    1. Yay! Carol that makes me so happy! It’s a pretty fiddly cast-on, and I’ve definitely stumbled through it myself in the past. And now we both totally get it!

  27. Oh how I wish I’d seen this sooner. I made a cowl recently which started with this very same technique. Thankfully the pattern was well written so I was able to follow it even though I hadn’t a clue as to what I was doing at the time. However, your method with the provisional cast on with waste yarn would have been better. Another great tutorial from you! Thank you :)

    1. Hey, good for you for just following the directions and not panicking! And now you will have this cast-on for the future. Thanks for your comment!

  28. I am a beginner – you go slow and make it so easy to understand. I also like the way you knit in both styles. Thank you- I just love your site.

    1. Grace I am so delighted by your comment! I’m really glad to know that the pace is good for you. I try to make it just the right speed for beginners and advanced knitters alike.

  29. Thank you for this video as I keep about this cast in patterns and could not understand it. You have made it look simple. Love the way you explain things!

  30. As always, in all ways, so clear and very very useful. Why can’t they all be so clear.
    One of the things that I enjoy most is that you don’t wave your hands up and down or move to fast.
    Good job…Juice

  31. Thank you so much! It was like you heard my frustration. Last night I was trying to cast on for a shawl for my friend to wear for her wedding. It was this exact cast on and I was having trouble, it looked so “wonky”, just not correct. I put it down for the night and this morning……there was your email with the video/ explanation. Perfect, thanks!!

      1. Tonight I had a chance to sit down with the yarn and your video. It was perfect! I was able to do the cast on and am well on my way with the shawl. I’m making “promise me ” by Boo Knits. I would have had to drive about 20-30 minutes to the yarn shop and hope someone could have helped. Thank you, thank you!!

  32. Wonderful video with very clear views and explanation. Thanks so much for posting this nice cast-on for triangular shawls. I just may have to make one now to try the new technique.

    1. Thank you Linda! I’m glad you thought it was clear – that’s really important to me. Try the Show Your Colors Shawl – you can do it with any yarn, even worsted-weight. I’ve made it on size 10 needles with Malabrigo Silk & Wool, and it’s gorgeous.

  33. Hi – I have always had trouble with the garter stitch tab – but not anymore! The provisional cast on method works beautifully. Thanks once again for your very easy to follow video tutorials. I have used many of them!!

  34. Thank you so much for this video. I am not sure I well understood all your words (sorry for my English) but thanks to your video, I think I got it!

  35. Love it, love it, love it. Explained so very carefully. I always stayed away from these kind of patterns. Thank you for this wonderful video.

      1. Hi
        I am trying to find an English pattern for the Kiri Shawl.
        Do you by chance have one, or can direct me to where I may find one. I have found some, but all in Finnish, German, Russian.
        I cannot exactly figure it out.
        Thanks and have a great day

    1. Thanks! I had never seen the crochet provisional cast on done your way. Much easier than the way I was shown. I will be using this way from now on as it makes much more sense. Very clear and understandable video showing the garter tab.

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