My first post helped choose yarn with the right fiber content by looking at Unity Yarn by Fibra Natura, and yesterday we looked at how to pick the perfect color combination for our Graphite Tank. Today let’s cast on, and dive into the wonderful, wacky world of lace knitting.
A confession about lace
I know I’m not supposed to say it; I know I should just keep it to myself, but I have to be honest. I don’t like knitting lace. I like the look of lace in certain projects like the Graphite Tank top I’m knitting in Unity Yarn for this week’s posts. I just don’t want to knit it…ever. This being said, I’ve found a few Lace Knithacks that make the process of knitting lace a wee bit easier to take. I’ll share the benefits of my experience with you, so you can find some new ways to make lace projects bearable, perhaps even downright fun. (I do hear there are people out there that actually enjoy knitting lace. It’s true!)
Stitch markers are a MUST
When I started knitting I was a wild woman. I never used stitch markers, because I thought they slowed me down, and were a waste of money. But then, one day, I decided to knit lace, and suddenly the purpose and importance of stitch markers became abundantly clear. When it comes to knitting lace stitch markers – a lot of them – are the key to success.
To use stitch markers in lace you need enough to mark out each repeat section in each row. For the Graphite Tank top you’ll need markers for every ten stitches (I used sixteen.) Why, you may ask, would you need so many? Correct stitch counts is essential for knitting lace properly. If you’re off by even one stitch the whole pattern is off. With so many complicated increases and decreases, it’s very difficult to see where the mistake was made without the use of stitch markers. With stitch markers in place you can count smaller sections of the lace to find out where the error occurred, so you can fix it quickly.
In my case with the Graphite Tank top’s lace hem I could count each section of ten between the markers. With the exception of the last section which is eleven stitches, any section between the stitch markers that had more or less stitches then ten had the problem. This is a huge advantage when it comes to keeping on track with your lace projects.
Use row counters
Sure you could simply use a paper and pencil to keep track of your lace knitting, but you don’t have to with all the amazing row counters out there to help. There are counters that fit on your thumb or your knitting needle, digital ones, necklace counters, and pins that attach to your knitting bag. I like to use a row counting android app called “Row Counter” (obviously.) It allows me to keep track of many types of rows with one touch. There’s the grand total of rows knit, a counter that keeps track of the 14 row lace repeat, and one that shows me when I’m on an increase or decrease row. If I hadn’t used the row counting app, I would have had two different row counters to keep track of lace repeats and decrease rows. Listen, just keeping track of the lace stitches on each row is difficult enough! Keep things simpler by letting a row counter keep track of the rest.
Row counters also allow you to put your work down then come back whenever you want, and pick up your lace work on the right row every time. What a relief not to try and figure out on what row I was knitting…two weeks ago…when life interrupted my knitting.
Lifelines are life savers
Lifelines are lace, time, and sanity savers. A lifeline is a strand of smooth string, yarn, or dental floss that is strung along a row of knitting. If a mistake is made that can’t be corrected you can pull back to the lifeline strand, pick up your stitches, and continue to work from that row. This saves you the horror of either pulling back your work then struggling to figure out how to correctly pick up complicated lace stitches, or having to tear it all back to the beginning.
Dental floss is my favorite lifeline material. I know you’re asking, “But Fi, why unflavored dental floss?” Two reasons. Firstly, dental floss is very smooth, so it slides out easily. The second reason is to avoid turning your lace knitting minty fresh by accident.
To make a lifeline thread your floss onto a darning needle. Pass the thread through each stitch of the next row to be worked leaving all the stitches on the knitting needle, and a few inches of your lifeline on either side of the row. Make Note of on which row you have placed your lifeline. That way if, sadly, you must pull back your work to the lifeline you will know on which row you are restarting your lace project.
Everything else to make lace knitting fun
Ok, so it’s true, cursing may actually help you through your lace project. Studies show that a well timed swear word can reduce stress. Place your Swear Jar on the table, get a roll of quarters, and turn the air bright blue with a choice word or two, or ten. You can afford it.
If you’re struggling with lace knitting, and every swear word in the book is not helping, then turn to knitting friends for help. Pop into your LYS (local yarn store) for advice, a class, or to join a knitting group. You can find support online in a Ravelry group, or Facebook group like Addicted to Knitting. Maybe it’s time to plan a visit to your Granny or favorite Auntie to help you through. You also can turn to the comment section below to let me and the KNITmuch blog followers lend you a support. Most knitters will be happy to help you.
Finally, have patience. Sometimes lace will be difficult, and everything you do to make it work will fail. My solution when I hit the knitting wall is to put my work down, get a good night’s sleep, and come back to it fresh in the morning. Lace can be demanding and tricky. Give yourself time to adapt to the pattern, and absorb new techniques.
Knitting the lace hem perfectly for the Graphite Tank won’t mean much if the top doesn’t fit. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how I adjusted the design to expertly fit my XL to 3X shaped body. Join me!
This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: How to choose the perfect color combination for your knits