When I began knitting a few years ago, I had no idea what it meant to “pick up and knit” or how to “pick up stitches”. Then, I knit a crescent shaped shawl and had to do a garter tab cast on. I remember watching a video that really didn’t help me much. I made a mess of the garter tab after four tries I said enough!
The garter tab cast on made absolutely no sense to me. It is often used to begin a shawl that is knit outward from the center top. Eventually I figured out that using a crochet hook to pull that yarn and pick it up was way easier than using a knitting needle – as I’d seen in some videos. But I was looking at the whole thing the wrong way. Use two needles and knit the stitches!
Often it’s difficult to find good knitting videos and if you find some you like, stick with those creators. For instance, Very Pink Knits has some good videos, although they are usually long because she likes to talk. Purl Soho has a few good videos – they get right down to business – but they don’t cover some techniques I’ve searched for. Brooklyn Tweed and Andrea Mowry are other video makers I like to watch.
For the Garter Tab cast on, I found Andrea Mowry’s Garter Tab video to be very helpful. Even after all this time, I finally learned how to do garter tab easily! Use a spare needle to pick up the stitches, and then knit them. It couldn’t be easier.
Stephen West also does a garter tab video and shows off his fantastic shawls too (at the end). I’m not much of a shawl knitter but he made me want to start one. He’s also quite a character to watch.
In fact I would use this same procedure for picking up gusset stitches while knitting socks. This is truly the “pick up and knit” I’ve heard about.
Anyway, these are some links to help you get going with a shawl so you won’t dread that garter tab cast on.