Wednesday, September 25, 2013

20 Tips for Knitting Lace

I spent a lot of time this past summer designing and knitting lace, mainly in the form of shawls. I'll be releasing the new designs over the coming months. In no particular order, here are a few of the tips I use to avoid errors in my lace.

  1. Use a marker at every pattern repeat.
  2. When first learning to knit lace choose a small project in a heavier weight yarn. Ultra fine lace weight yarn can be tricky. Start with lace in DK and then move to fingering weights when you are comfortable. Go to lace weight when you feel ready for the challenge, not overwhelmed by the concept.
  3. Practice some of the looser cast ons and cast offs recommended for lace on your swatch so you know the edges won't be too tight on your project. 
  4. Use straight needles when possible if the yarn overs are catching on the cable of a circular needle.
  5. Try needles with different shaped tips, many knitters find that the shape of the tips can impact the difficulty of the knitting. 
  6. Think about your choice of needle materials. Wood and bamboo needles may work better than slippery metal needles on slippery yarns, metal needles team better with sticky yarns.
  7. Start with a solid colour yarn so you can easily see the stitch pattern. Busy hand dyed yarns can obscure more complex stitches and are best left to when you are more comfortable with lace.
  8. Choose smooth yarn to learn lace, fuzzy yarns obscure the stitches.
  9. Use different colours and styles of markers to mark off different sections; for example pattern repeats vs. borders.
  10. Watch for wandering yarn overs beside stitch markers. If  they go astray, it can cause errors in stitch counts.
  11. Be patient, take the time to learn the stitch pattern while you are doing the swatch. 
  12. Choose charted rather than text patterns. You can read why here.
  13. Track what row you are on when you put the work down. You can use a pencil to tick rows off, or a post it note or a magnetic board and ruler.
  14. Make sure you review what the chart symbols mean. See my post for more information here.
  15. Check your work frequently, you can more easily correct errors in the next row than you can many rows later.
  16. Count the number of stitches of each repeat on the wrong side purl back row to catch errors.
  17. Learn where you go wrong habitually and look for that error. I am most likely to accidentally drop yarn overs so I pay attention by looking at the shapes they create in the pattern.
  18. Use a life line. To create a lifeline, finish a row of knitting and then thread a slick yarn such as cotton in a contrasting colour through the line of stitches on the needle. Use a length double that of the width of the work plus enough to tie into a knot so you can still spread the work out fully. If you make a mistake, you can rip back to that row,  replace the stitches back onto your needle, and start that  over. Be sure not to thread the lifeline trough your markers.
  19. Remind yourself that lace knitting is  economical. You can buy a lot of lace weight yarn for not very much money and have the fun of a project that will take you months to complete. That's a lot of knitting fun that ends with a beautiful finished project.
  20. Work out how to splice your yarn before you start the project based on the fibre content. Can you do a felted join with moisture and friction? Will a Russian join work?

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