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Garter Ridge Tab Tutorial

Working a garter ridge tab to start a top down triangle shawl is kinda magic! It allows us to begin our shawl in such a way that the garter ridge boarder continues seamlessly (or pretty darn close to seamlessly) along the top of our shawl. If you learn better by watching someone work through a task, check out this youTube video. I am wearing the Freia Shawl in the picture below. It is scheduled to be released November 13 and you can bet I'll be back to link this post to the pattern. If you want updates on the Freia Shawl and the Sisters Not Twins Series, a collaborative between myself and Brittany Garber, as well as to be the first to know when a new SDK Blog post is published, be sure to subscribe to the blog.

To get started, let's first chat a minute about the garter ridge tab cast on and the basic idea of what it is we are doing here. Lots of garter ridge tab instructions will have you cast on provisionally. Personally, I find this to be a pain in the bum-tooshy and to not make enough of a difference in our finished object to make the pain worth it. I cast on with the long tail cast on.

As far as the basic idea, we are going to cast on the number of stitches instructed (usually two or three) and knit the number of rows instructed (usually six). That creates our "tab".

The next step is the super genius part: We will knit across the three stitches of our tab, turn our work 90*, pick up and knit three stitches along the side of our tab, turn it 90* again, and pick up and knit three more stitches along our cast on edge. If we had used a provisional cast on, that last step would involve unzipping it, putting those live stitches on a needle and knitting them. Either way, we will end up with nine stitches on our needle (if we cast on three and knit six rows before the last super genius step.) So... wanna see how its done?

After I knit the first three stitches on my left needle, I turned my little tab 90* and (this is the technical part) just kinda stuck my needle in one of the garter ridge bump along the side. This can be seen in the first image and honestly, as long as you go in somewhere near that bump, it will all be fine. Don't worry about the exact right spot- you will find what works for you. The second image shows me running around my needle with my working yarn. And in the third image I am "peaking through the window" or coming back through that garter ridge bump I had gone into.

If you are a continental knitter, the basic idea is still the same, but you will find that many people are better able to peak through that window when the tension on the yarn is pulling to the right. Some continental knitters use the trick of hooking the working yarn with their right index finger after they run around the needle to create this tension, only while peaking through that window. In this image of me holding the yarn continental style, you can see that I have loops on my needle that appear to come out of the garter ridge rows.

The next part of our super genius row is the part I find the most challenging. We once again rotate our tab 90*. Now we are looking at the cast on edge. If we are super stars who want to win blue ribbon we would probably have used the provisional cast on and at this point we would simply unzip it, place those live stitches on a needle and knit them. While that is way easier to tell you how to do, I find it more difficult in practice. I prefer to go for second prize at the state fair and pick up and knit a stitch for each cast on "swoop" created with my long tail cast on. But to be honest with you, sometimes I gladly take third place and just grab three somethings along the bottom of my tab. If you look closely at the picture of me pinching the bottom edge of my tab, you can see the "swoops" I'm referring to.

If your instructions called for casting on three and working six rows, your tab should have 9 stitches once completed. After working a few rows of my pattern, you can see the garter ridge boarder continuing seamlessly along the top edge of my triangle shawl (or almost seamlessly - shut up anyone who is acting all judgey, I said I wasn't going for the blue ribbon).

And that is it! The garter ridge tab is one of those cast-ons that take attention and we gotta set aside those 10 minutes where no one can talk to us. But after that, its smooth sailing and our shawl looks so polished in the end. I can't wait to see all those beautiful Freia Shawls in the wild! After you make yours be sure to tag @sundaughterknits on Instagram or Facebook and use the hashtags #freiashawl and #sisnottwins. For more info on the Sisters Not Twins series, stay tuned! Good things are coming from myself and Brittany Garber.


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