In honor of my latest pattern being released, Lake Diamond, and since a lot of my patterns involve lace in some way, I thought I’d come up with a list of tips for the beginner lace knitter. While knitting lace is certainly a skill that takes a little bit of work, it’s not nearly as intimidating as most people think it is – so here’s my 10 tips for lace knitting.
1. Pay Attention. If you like to zone out when you’re knitting or if you’re new to knitting, you need to be careful when you’re knitting lace. Some lace repeats are pretty easy once you get the hang of them, but until you have it memorized, maybe don’t knit lace while you’re watching something that’s subtitled.
2. Learn to Read Your Work. No matter how closely you pay attention, you’re going to have a moment when you stop paying attention and you forget where you are. It is so handy to be able to read your work, to look down and say something like, “Oh, I just did the k1, yo, k2tog, so now I need to yo, ssk to finish it.” (Or whatever the case may be.) Don’t know how to tell your knits from your purls? Learn to read the basic knit and purl stitches here. In time, as you begin to pay more attention to your work, you’ll learn more stitches and what they look like. It’s a valuable skill, not just for lacework.
3. Knit a Lace Sample Before You Begin. A lot of people would
file this as #2 under the list “Definitely Not Going to Do,” right behind gauge swatching, but hear me out. If you’re making a larger project or garment and you’re not familiar with knitting lace, it’s probably a good idea to just knit up a bit of the lace repeat/chart to get the hang of it. You’ll see how the lace works with your yarn, and you’ll work out any issues you might have – all without the possibility of having to unravel and start over the whole project if you do mess up.
4. Count Your Stitches Frequently. Counting isn’t normally fun, and it’s even less fun when you’re counting upwards of 100 stitches, and sometimes many, many more. But counting all those stitches after you just finish a lace row is a lot more fun than discovering a mistake and unraveling your work. Get to counting and make sure you have the right number of stitches on your needle after each row!
You can even make your own stitch markers like I did with scrap yarn!
5. Use Stitch Markers. If you have a lace repeat, it is an amazing idea to use stitch markers around each repeat. So to use the earlier example, if your lace repeat is *k1, yo, k2tog, yo, ssk*, then you’ll place stitch markers every 5 stitches, where the asterisks are. That way, you’ll know right away if you mess up if you don’t have 5 stitches in each section. Also, it’s much easier to look at your 5 stitches and read them and see if they’re correct than to try to glance over the entire project. Additionally, if you do have an issue, you’ll be able to locate the problem fairly quickly and possibly fix it.
6. Compare Chart and Written Instructions. I know some people prefer charts and other prefer written instructions for lace. Regardless, it is helpful to know, read, and understand both, especially because sometimes you might not understand what one area is saying. You can easily cross reference it with the other section to understand it a bit better. Many times I have found mistakes in written instructions, but was able to continue knitting without any mistakes because of the chart.
7. Mark Off Your Rows. As you begin to move throughout the pattern, always mark off which row you’re on. You can mark it with a check or tally mark or use a post-it note to help keep track. I always do this for each row because you never know when you’re going to get distracted and suddenly not remember if you’re on Row 9 or 10. (And if that does happen, refer back to #2 before you get totally lost and have to unravel.)
8. Use a Lifeline. I cannot stress this enough, especially if the lacework is complicated or you’re new to knitting (or prone to mistakes!). This takes only a few minutes and can save you SO MUCH TIME if you make a mistake. Watch the video for it here if you’re not sure how.
9. Fix Your Mistakes. Some lace mistakes can be fixed. Try searching youtube for videos, or check out this one here with common mistakes. Also, I’ve heard great things about Craftsy’s class called Save Our Stitches: Fixing Lace Knitting Mistakes.
10. Always Block Lace. Sometimes lace looks really cool hanging off of your needles, but most of the time, it looks saggy and uneven and just kind of okay. You HAVE to block your lace to open up those wonderful eyelets you’re creating – and so that they’ll stay open. I know blocking can be a pain to do, but trust me, it’s a must for lace. (Also, if you do a lace gauge swatch, you should definitely block it because lace stretches open and if you’re measuring, you should definitely have the lace open.) For real though, if blocking makes this much of a difference for regular knit stitches, imagine the difference it will make to your lace!
Did I forget to mention your favorite tip? Share it below!