Holden Shawlette Knit-Along: Casting On and Getting Started

Posted by on Aug 11, 2011 in Knitting | Comments

This post is a continuation of our Holden Shawlette Knit-AlongIf you need a little brush-up on your knitting skills, check out our KnitLab online knitting course.  In it, you’ll learn the stitches needed to knit this shawl along with me! (Sign up through this post and take the course for 50% off.)

In this post, I cast on and get started working on my Holden Shawlette.  It’s a free pattern, written by one of our Craftsy members, and you are more than welcome to knit along with me!

A little bit about the shawl’s structure: the Holden Shawlette is cast on at the center back and worked out toward the long, lacy edge, and then finished using a picot bind-off.  So, in this case, we start out with very few stitches, increase every right side row, and end up with many stitches.

Holden starts out with what’s called a “garter stitch insert” cast – on.  This method of casting on enables the knitter to create a continuous garter-stitch border all along the top edge.  You could also start by simply casting on 9 stitches, but you’d end up with a gap in the edging. (You’ll see what I mean when you look at more pics later in this post.)

Here’s how my garter stitch insert progressed:

Step one: cast on 3 stitches and work in garter stitch for 6 rows.

Step two: turn the work 90 degrees and knit 3 stitches on the edge.  Here, you just insert the needle into three of the edge stitches and knit them.  Try to choose stitches right along the edge, but you don’t have to be super-exact about this, it’ll look good even if it feels a little bit awkward at first.

Step three: pick up and knit 3 stitches in the cast on edge (9 stitches.) At this point, you turn the work another 90 degrees and choose three cast-on stitches into which you knit three new stitches.  This may be a little bit tight, the cast – on row can be a bit firm.

See! Wasn’t that easy?  Here’s a great tutorial on picking up stitches, if you need a little help with that.

 Continuing on to knit the stockinette portion of the shawl:

Now, you can just follow along with the pattern row-by-row.  The first 5 rows get you all set up with the structure of the shawl itself.  The first and last 3 stitches are always kept in garter stitch, and the center stitch becomes the shawl’s “spine.”  You increase four stitches on each RS row, and the shawl starts to take shape.

Here’s a closeup of the garter stitch insert.  See how it helps to create a continuous garter stitch border along the edge? If I hadn’t worked the insert, I’d have garter stitch along each side, left and right, and a “blank spot”  of no edging right in the center.  The garter stitch cast – on is an old method, and is still in use because it’s GENIUS.

Mine may look a little bit less-than-perfect at this point, but when I weave in my cast-on tail, I’ll be able to secure the stitches and make it all line up nicely.  A lot will also just magically align itself in the blocking.  A firm stretch does a garter-stitch border good.

Keep on working in this manner to 193 total stitches, and then start working the lace pattern.

I’ll check back in with you next week with my progress…I hope that I can get at least halfway to the lace section, but I guess we’ll see next week!

If you’ve got any questions about the pattern, feel free to comment.  The designer will be checking in on us to see how we do!


  1. Deborah says:

    Wow, yes, that 3 stitches pick up on the cast on row is a tad difficult, I’m still trying but can hardly see my stitiches. I will get at least this part and five rows today… I’m not going to give up til I do. These instructions and pics REALLY help !!

  2. Susan havens says:

    This is the first time I have actually participated in a knit-along. So far I am about pace with you. I am using Wildfoote sock yarn that I had in my stash that is the color bluegrass. It is really pretty. When hubby gets back with my camera, I’ll have to try and take pictures and post them. This has been fun, and I am ready for a new shawl!

  3. Denise says:

    The picking up of the stitches confused me at first, but I love the result. Mine came out very smoothly with no gaps at all…just a nice edge! I’m just about 3/4 of the way to beginning the lace. I’m doing it in a dyeable yarn that I might dye the shawlette as an afterthought. Loving this pattern!!

  4. Mariaeulalia says:

    I think that your technique is fantastic but I haven´t try it yet, but want to let you know that you are a special soul sharing your technique with us!!!!!! Thanks a lot… and I have a problem trying to make will let you know. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!! Laly

  5. Anne says:

    I’m joining in on this one. I’m a beginning knitter, but I just looked over the pattern and I think I may be able to do it. So I’m just going to jump in with both feet and see how it goes. I’m excited and I love this pattern!

  6. Cat H. says:

    I managed this cast on method for the first time. Wasn’t sure it was going to work but looks good. Phew. Now I’m about 2 rows away from starting the lace pattern rows. I chose a self-striping yarn (from my stash) which now I’m thinking wasn’t the best choice but will see how it looks after doing the lace at the bottom. Was a good way to try the pattern without purchasing yarn. So will take a deep breath and start the lace rows.

    1. Marcia says:

      I am just starting the Holden shawlette, I see you are at the lace part (at least you were when this was posted) Do you really repeat rows 4 and 5 for 44 times? I can not feature that working out correctly.
      Please help.

  7. mary young says:

    Someone gave me this pattern 18 months ago and created a monster in me. I have knitted at least ten of these shawls. Love it! I am curious about the upcoming lace part as that sounds very interesting and a new venture. I have done this in all kinds of yarn and sizes of needles. A tip:
    I use those cute little cheap clam snap on hair clips to mark each end of the right side of the shawl
    and the center part. Also use the little rings to denote the center stitches and the garter stitch.

  8. Mindy says:

    Hi everyone! I hope you’re enjoying the pattern.

    About the cast on…when I teach this as a class at my local yarn store, I tell my students to keep the the initial cast on of 3 stitches just a wee bit loose. It helps when you have to pick up those stitches later. I also tell them that it seems weird and will look a little strange when it’s just 9 stitches on the needles. Just go with it, and it will even itself out and look much better when you get a few rows completed.

  9. Amanda says:

    This is my first shawl (and knit along for that matter) and I’m really loving it. I look to be about as far in as you are. I could not pick up the cast on edge stitches, so I started over and started by using a provisional (crochet) cast on. It made it a breeze. The website link is to my WIP picture of it. :)

  10. Cindy Kuo says:

    I’m using what I have on-hand – KnitPicks Chrome Fingering. It is 70% wool and 30% Nylon. I bought it for making socks but realized it is a hand wash/dry flat – not something I do with socks!

    This is the first time I’ve knitted a shawl so I’m anxious to see how it works. The cast on did seem a bit tight but I got it. For the final stitch, I inserted my needle from the left to pick up a stitch & then knitted it. I found that helped.

  11. Karen says:

    When i first read the directions I was a little ” scared” Even though I have been knitting for years. But I just sat down and did it and it turned out great. After knitting about 25 sets of rows 4/5 I found that I skipped a yarn over around the 3rd row! So I ripped it all out and started over. But so far so good!

    1. Stefanie Japel says:

      Wow! Good for you on ripping back, I know lots of knitters who would have just left it! :)

  12. Martha says:

    Is that all there is to the pattern? You mentioned something about a lace lace pattern section, but I didn’t see it included and you mentioned something about seeing us after a class next week.Could you plesase send me the rest of the directions?

    1. Stefanie Japel says:

      Hi There! If you’d like to knit along with us on this project, just go to the Holden project page here on Craftsy http://www.craftsy.com/project/view/Holden_Shawlette/2734 and download the free pattern. Then, tune in once a week on Fridays to see the shawl knit step-by-step. There is lace in the shawl, but we haven’t knit that far yet.

  13. Denise says:

    I am so very excited…I have started shawls before that called for that type of cast on and never could get it.
    I am joining this knit along..I never have before but I am find this to beautiful to pass up.. I love the look of lace shawls and have been facinated by them.. I have made a few feather and fan but wanted to venture further I am thinking this will be it! Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorials!

    1. Stefanie Japel says:

      Welcome-welcome! :)

  14. Marci says:

    I’m about to start Row 20 in the lace pattern. This is turning out so beautifully! I am using Malabrigo Lace. The yarn is extremely soft….like butter. I am having so much fun with this pattern and it is so easy!

  15. Regina says:

    I have had this in my que on Rav forever. Perhaps a knit along is just what I need! :)

  16. Cheryl says:

    I’ve just finished the stockinette section. I had to place marker before and after the very middle stitch bec. I kept forgetting the yo’s!! I’ll have to wait til there aren’t any distractions before I start the lace, but I can’t wait!

  17. Denise says:

    OYYY I started this shawl about 6 times this weekend.. I actually did ok with the cast on of nine but kept having too many YO”s Hopefully I am on the right track now..

  18. Jackie says:

    Found out about this KAL on Ravelry. I was on row 33 of the lace section when I noticed I was 2 stitiches off. I’ve tinked back to row 29 and although I’m only a quarter of the way through, have already noticed a missed a YO. I could just pick up the loop between the stitches on the next row…. However, I don’t want to do it since it’s such a beautiful pattern and I’m doing beading -plus it’s a present!

    1. Stefanie Japel says:

      I’m so glad that you’re joining us! Thanks for telling us how your Holden is coming along! I’d love to see pics of a beaded version.

  19. Lisa says:

    OK, I’m in. I started tonight with grey Cascade Heritage Silk. Two tries to get the first 6 rows (I lost count the first time). Two more tries to master the picking up — the Knitty tutorial helped a lot. Now I’m steaming along in stockinette. I also placed two markers on either side of the center knit stitch. My first few may be a little wonky at the center but now I’ve got it: yo, sl marker, k1, sl marker, yo. Three repeats down, 41 to go.

    I work at Craftsy with Stefanie, so I won’t have to go far for extra help!

    After this, I’m going to do the beautiful Skywalker shawl in Laura Nelkin’s new Lace Shawls class. She designed the shawl to start with easy stitch patterns and work into tougher ones.

  20. K'Lynne says:

    I started this pattern on Saturday 8/6/11. I can’t believe how quickly it went. I finished it on Sunday 8/14/11. I need to weave in the ends and block it. I am so proud of myself. This is truly the first thing of this magnitude that I have started and completed. I have never blocked anything before (!!! I know!!!), so I am going to have to do some research so I can learn to do it the right way.
    Thanks for starting this KAL…What an awesome pattern to begin this type of project with!!!

  21. Cat H. says:

    Have only a couple rows of the lace pattern left. Phew. Has been going along well–as long as I don’t try to watch TV–and pay attention to the pattern. Goofed up one row (Row 6 that switches to K on the WSR) the first time. But overall happy with it. My question is: are you going to be demo-ing the picot edge bind off?

    1. Stefanie Japel says:

      Hi Cat! I’m planning to demo it in pictures! :) I’m still not up to that point in the shawl, but when I get there I’ll do my best to show how to do it!

  22. Cindy says:

    I was happy to find this site. I just got the Holden Shawlette pattern and have been trying to get it started. I am having difficulty with the center stitch. My center area is not straight through the piece. Does the center stitch change every row? I seemed to be increasing more on one side of the center than the other. I didn’t see from reading these directions that I should do anything other than follow the pattern?
    Any help would be appreciated.

  23. Nancy says:

    I’m starting to knit my first project which starts just like this one. I don’t see the photos you refer to about picking up stitches on the edge and then on the cast on row. Are there pictures in a different post? I’m having a bit of difficulty performing this start.