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!