I wrote recently about a start for a top-down triangular shawl I’d come up with, but there’s another that I’ve used in several shawl designs (most of them not yet published): modified disappearing loop. You can see it in use in Sycamore Creek (payhip link).
Disappearing loop is generally used as the center of a shawl or something else to be worked in the round from the center outward. However, there’s no reason it can’t be used in cases where you need to cast on a small number of stitches for a shawl to be worked flat.
I call this “modified” disappearing loop, not because it’s worked flat, but because I came up with a step that I think makes it a little less awkward to work than the way I learned it.
Step 1: make a slip knot and place it on your left needle (this will be dropped later; do not knit into it). Then make a backward loop on your needle so that the yarn comes forward over the yarn at the bottom of the needle. Don’t pull on it, but leave it loose. You will be knitting multiple stitches into this one stitch.
Step 2: knit one stitch into this stitch, but don’t pull it off the needle yet.
Step 3: bring the yarn forward between the needle and the top of the loop to make a yarnover.
Step 4: knit another stitch into the loop.
Repeat steps 3&4 until you have the number of stitches you need, ending with step 4. This will always make an odd number of stitches. (If you need an even number, increase a stitch somewhere in the next row.)
Once you have enough stitches, slide the loop and slip knot off the left needle and undo the slip knot. Pull the loop tight.
Turn your work to start knitting flat; you can start with a right-side row if you wish.
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