Over the last few months I’ve done a fair amount of lace knitting. It’s all been fun and I love how lace patterns all make sense from a maths point of view yet create something ethereal. However, I have heard a lot of “I can’t do lace knitting” from people too.
Not all lace knitting needs to be fiendishly complicated. In fact quite a lot is repetitive and once you’ve memorised the pattern, you can knit in front of the TV just as if it were stocking stitch flying off your needles. On the whole however, you do need to start somewhere undisturbed. And depending on the pattern you pick, you will need a glass of wine or a darkened room and some headache tablets!
This is my humble advice to anyone attempting to try lace knitting:
- It is not surgery. If I can do it, you can do it.
- READ the pattern all the way through to make sure that you know all the stitches.
- Swatch. And swatch again. Some lace patterns just don’t work if you knit too tight/loose. It’s better you find that out before you invest too much time in your project. And of course the yarn that you picked may not be shown to advantage.
- Have plenty of differently coloured stitch markers to hand and make sure you use them. Don’t wait for the pattern to tell you to insert a marker. Just put one in where it makes sense to you – at the beginning/end of a pattern. Anything to help you with the counting.
- Learn how to put in a lifeline. I’m currently working on a simple lace pattern on a jumper. I’ve had to rip back to the beginning twice now because I found it impossible to pick all the stitches up correctly half way into the work. Third time round, I learnt my lesson!
- Anyone who tries to interrupt you when you’re finding your feet with a new lace pattern is asking to be barked at.
- When you’re done. BLOCK your work.
The only other thing about lace work is the charts. All odd rows read right to left, all even rows from left to right. The chart is invaluable to show you what the knitted lace looks like – a bit like crochet charts.
However, unless you have the eye-sight of an Olympic archer, you will need to increase the size of the chart provided in the pattern using a photocopier. If you only do this for your personal use, it is OK from a copyright point of view. And I’ve got to admit that I write out all charts in longhand. Yes, I do. Somehow, seeing it in print not just visually, helps me to knit quicker. Plus, if I’m very lucky, my youngest will spend half an hour or so reading it out to me as I knit. I’ve even been thinking about putting lace charts on to audiotape. Like books! There must be a market for that surely? Don’t forget, I had the idea first…
I hope this has given you some confidence to try lace knitting. It’s doubly rewarding when you see the finished item.