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  • Shawls | Part 2

    July 17, 2015 4 min read 0 Comments

    Welcome back to our shawl series. Today we are looking at Casting On your shawl. There are many ways to cast on, how do you get your shawl off to a good start?


    It really depends on whether you are knitting from the top down, the bottom up, sideways or the centre out. I have selected a few standard examples to show you.


    Top Down Shawls


    The two main ways to start a shawl from the top down are with a simple cast on or with a garter tab.


    The Garter Tab: This method creates a lovely straight top edge that the border stitches flow from. It is really easy to create and a great skill to have in your knitting repertoire. We have created a handy free tutorial download for you.

    This is the cast on method used in the Pwani shawl for the #coastsummerkal



    Standard Cast On: This method is as simple as casting on the correct number of stitches for the start of the shawl. It is featured in a number of patterns. If using this method I would normally suggest a long tail cast on for a firm but stretchy edge. This method is used in the Nazar Shawl by Lisa Mutch, which would look great in SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock.

    Tech Knitter has a great Long Tail Cast On tutorial which you might find helpful.


    Nazar Shawl © Lisa Mutch



    Bottom Up Shawls


    Some bottom up shawls may start with a few stitches like Wave by Kristen Finlay of Skein Yarns. For these you can just use a normal cast on. Why not knit this in a single skein of Malabrigo Mechita.


    Wave © Kristen Finlay



    Other bottom up shawls start with many stitches and here you want to be mindful of creating a stretchy edge.


    Some designers like Mindy Wilkes who created Baya for PomPom recommend using a larger needle to create a stretchy edge. Try knitting this with a skein of Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace and a skein of SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock.


    Baya © Mindy Wilkes


    You could also experiment with a stretchy cast on like Jeny Stalman's Stretchy Slipknot Cast On. Jeny's is well known for her Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off



    Starting with a Single Stitch


    Some patterns start with a solitary stitch and work from there.


    Simmer Dim by Gudrun Johnstone has a Shetland style construction where it starts with a single stitch and creates yo’s along the side of the triangle as it is increased. These are then picked up for the border.


    Simmer Dim © Gudrun Johnstone



    This shawl would be magnificent in Shilasdair Luxury 4ply


    Provisional Cast On


    Shawls may use a provisional cast on for a variety of reasons, you may be adding something to the edges later or knitting mirrored panels that will be grafted together.


    Andreas Shawl by Kirsten Kapur would be fabulous in MillaMia Naturally Soft Merino and Tangled Yarn carries a fantastic range of colours.


    Andreas Shawl © Kirsten Kapur


    If you need some direction on how to do a provisional cast on then Tech-knitter has a great tutorial in her blog post Provision Cast On. As does Ysolda in her Technique Thursday blog post Crochet Provisional Cast On which has superb images and easy to follow instructions.


    Circular Shawls


    There are a few ways to knit from the centre out. My favourite tutorial is by Tin Can Knits for the Pinhole Cast On


    Why not try it out with one of these gorgeous circular shawls


    Shipwreck Shawl by Knitting Harpy, would look stunning in Malabrigo Sock.


    Shipwreck Shawl © Knitting Harpy


    Girasole by Jared Flood, perfect for Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight


    Girasole © Jared Flood


    You could also use a provisional cast on method as Martina Behm does in Nuvem a fantastic stole knit from the centre out. I would love to make one of these in SweetGeorgia BFL Lace


    Nuvem © Martina Behm


    Unusual Starts


    Talented designers out there are pushing the boundaries of pattern construction all the time. I love these two examples of interesting shawl cast ons. 


    Aileron by Dieuwke Van Mulligan.This beauty starts with Judy’s Magic Cast On and some interesting triangle construction before whisking you away on a short row journey fuelled by stripes. Why not try Mabel & Ivy Coast for a summery version or Supersoft 100% Wool for a cooler weather version. The huge range of colours lends itself perfectly to stripes!


    Aileron © Dieuwke Van Mulligan


    Sweet Berry by Jana Huck has released some spectacular patterns lately. If you love interesting quirky designs check her latest releases. I love this one that starts with a provisional cast on to create the centre stem. This was designed for Malabrigo Sock, with so many wonderful shades to choose from there are many stunning shawls to be made too.


    Sweet Berry © Jana Huck


    I hope you have enjoyed this shawl cast on journey … please join us again for part three of this series where we will be looking at the fabric of your shawl.


    Happy Knitting,



    About the Author 

    Clare Devine is a writer and designer. Originally from South Africa she has nomadic tendencies and is currently knitting her way around the UK. She is passionate about all things fibre related (especially if it’s grey), knitting, travel and sunshine in equal measures.

    She regularly blogs at www.yarnandpointysticks.com. You can find her on Ravelry as Knitsforklipskaap, Twitter as @_ClareDevine and Instagram as @Clare.Devine.