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Textured Circle Shrug Knit-Along: Casting On and Working the Yoke

In this week's post, we will cast on and work through the YOKE of the shrug.  The yoke of the sweater is the part that contains the cast on edge, the beginnings of the sleeves, and the top part of the body.

Now that you've found the perfect yarn, the correctly-sized needles, made your swatch, checked your gauge, and breathed a sigh of relief...LET'S CAST ON!

Gather up your yarn, needles, two stitch markers, and cast on 60 (60, 60, 68, 68, 68) stitches.  (I'm making the 3rd size.)

  • Tip: Even though I've been knitting for a number of years, I went through my copy of the pattern and circled the direction numbers and all stitch counts for my size.  This really makes the pattern a lot easier for my eye to follow, especially on a black and white print out.

Do not join to work in the round. Even though we are using circular needles, because the shrug is left open at the front, we work back and forth.

  • We use circular needles because we shape the sleeves and shoulders as we go, so we have to navigate some curves.  It might be possible to knit this shrug on straight needles, but I haven't tried!

RAGLAN SET-UP ROW (WS):This is the portion of the pattern in which we place our markers and set up the placement of the raglan increases.

The instructions say to begin working in stocking stitch or stockinette (which looks knit on the RS of the fabric.) Because row 1 is a WS row, we need to purl.  So, purl along, placing markers as indicated in the instructions. (pm = "place marker")

RAGLAN INC ROW (RS): [KFB, work to 1 st before marker, KFB] twice, work to last st, KFB -- 66 (66, 66, 74, 74, 74) sts.

Written in this shorthand notation, these instructions may confuse the beginner knitter.  Written in longhand, they would look like this:

  • Knit into the front and back of the first stitch on the needle, work to one stitch before the marker, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, pass marker from left hand needle to right hand needle, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, work to one stitch stitch before the marker, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, pass marker from left hand needle to right hand needle, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, knit to the last stitch, knit into the front and back of the last stitch.

In other words (because even written out longhand, it's a lot!): Increase in the first stitch, increase one stitch on each side of every marker, and increase in the last stitch. (Increases 6 sts.)

NOTE: KFB = knit into both the front leg and the back leg of the next stitch on the needle.  This increases one stitch.  Here's a video at showing how to KFB (continental) (English).

Work this whole section (13 rows) in stocking stitch, so that all of the RS rows are knit, and all of the WS rows are purled.

  • Each increase row adds 6 stitches.
  • At the end of this section, you should have 96(96, 96, 104, 104, 104) sts.

Here's what my knitting looks like after finishing this section:

Here's a closeup of how the raglan increases look:

NEXT ROW (RS): Begin textured stripe stitch pattern, and at the same time, continue working your raglan increases until you have 180(204, 228, 242, 266, 290) sts.

  • THIS is the point at which you begin working in the textured stripe pattern.  The first 5 rows will look purled on the RS, and the next 8 rows will look knit on the RS.  Then, just repeat this pattern.
  • NOTE: While working in reverse stocking stitch, work your raglan increases as PFB (purl into the front and back of stitch) so that they look purled on the RS (this just adds continuity to the look of the purl sections.) Here's a video on showing how to PFB (continental) (English).

Here's what my shrug looks like (on the needles) at the end of this section:

When you break the yarn at the end of the last row, be sure to leave a tail.  Any time in knitting when you cut or break a working yarn, you MUST leave a tail so that that end can either be tied off and woven in, or attached to a new length of yarn and worked later.

TIP: At this point, I suggest that you thread a darning needle with a long length of waste yarn and place the whole shrug onto the waste yarn.  You can now try on your shrug and make sure it fits you properly.

  • If it's too small, work a few extra rows, continuing your raglan increases every-other row.
  • If it's too big, just rip back a few rows until it fits.

This may sound like a lot of extra work, but it's so much better to take the time to check fit now than it is to find it doesn't fit later!

Here's what my shrug looks like on a length of waste yarn:

You an see that we've formed (from L to R) the cap of the left sleeve, the back of the shrug, and the cap of the right sleeve.

To see if your shrug fits, try it on, matching the points indicated with arrows in the photo above at the under arm.

Next week, we will separate the sleeves and continue to form the back of the shrug.

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