Circular Shawl Knitting for the Terminally Confused

I’m making the Secret Garden Shawl, and I had a lot of trouble getting started. After I whined, moaned, sulked, screamed, and generally acted like a baby, I vowed to take lots of photos and collect lots of links, so that other klutzes would have a roadmap.
Ta Da! Start-of-a-circular-shawl!

So, without further ado,
Starting a Circular Shawl for Complete Idiot Dummy Morons:

I used Emily Ocker’s cast on. Emily passed her cast on method to Elizabeth Zimmerman, who passed it on to the world. The basic technique is this: Wrap yarn around your finger a couple of times, make a chain of crochet stitches, then slide them onto needles.

The details:
Here is a good pictorial version of Emily Ocker’s cast on, found on
Bagatell’s Blog.
Two videos of the technique, both on YouTube:
One from kellypetkun, and
the other by MountainMom.

This is a photo of the cast on stitches on a crochet hook:


The next step was to “pick up stitches with double pointed needles (dpns)” I finally realized I could “pick up” the stitches by simply sliding them from the crochet hook onto the needles. First, slide all the stitches onto one needle:


Next, divide them up onto the other three needles. Since I had 12 stitches, the math is simple – three stitches on each needle.
Here are the 12 stitches divided in half and put on 2 needles:

And then divide them again, till they’re on four needles:

Place a stitch marker between the working yarn and the first stitch.

Next, start knitting the first row. Use the extra (5th) needle to knit with. Each time you finish with one dpn, it will become the extra.
The Secret Garden pattern required knitting into the front and back of each stitch, doubling the total number of stitches, one dpn at a time. In this photo, I’ve just started and have knit into the front and back of one group of 3 stitches, transforming it into 6 stitches!


You know when you’ve gone all the way around, because you get back to the stitch marker! Photo please:

That’s it! You’ve done it!
Hot Tips:
1. Wrap the yarn around your finger twice, not just once. I have no idea why, but knitters whom I respect keep saying this.
2. Work the beginning on a pillow, and turn the pillow, instead of trying to turn the work.

More Resources:
This is yet another alternative cast on, from the incomparable
Fleegle. Fleegle’s Alternative cast on.

And, this one is just a very
encouraging blog post from Seed who also learned a lot from this!

Finally, Heirloom Knitting is just an amazing lace knitting site.

3 responses to “Circular Shawl Knitting for the Terminally Confused

  1. I like this! Will have to remember for starting the hemlock ring blanket.

  2. I’ve been trying to figure the easiest way of starting a circular or square piece of knitting from the centre. What you have shown is perfect for what I want. THANK YOU very much.

  3. Thank you for the pillow tip. That fiddly beginning kills me!

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