Lace is a type of knitting some could say stands apart from regular knitting. After all, it has lots of holes.
Yes, it is a combination of knits, purls and yarn overs. It can be a simple lace that repeats only 2 movements (Camarillo Nights), in between cables and stockinette (A Summer’s Picnic), with heavy yarn (Autumn Splendor), medium weight (Malibu Mornings Shawl) and the ultimate, in fingerling weight and usually for scarves and shawls knitted in circles, triangles, squares, half moons, - yes, the possibilities might feel endless.
Just a few of the many examples of Lace, in an area of knitting that can go on forever in all types of knitting—even felting (Ooooooo! I must put that on my list!)
Whether charted or not, lace is not something to tackle when you are tired or distracted. I usually save lace work for early in the morning when I sit by myself with a cup of coffee and even better—I am the only one up in the house.
Besides solitude, your other big allies are sharp metal needles and a Life Line. If your needles are not pointy, there are needles designed for Lace. They are not necessary for your simpler Lace patterns, but will make your life easier when purling 3 stitches together! (Circular Lace needles are usually preferred by your avid “Lacers”.)
Most Lace stitch patterns are not “fixable” if you make an error. Yes, you can always Tink back, add or drop a yarn over, if you catch your mistake in time. But, sometimes you don’t catch a glaring mistake until you are admiring your beautiful work.
Therefore, I highly recommend a Life Line.
Life Line. It is just what it sounds like: It can save your knitting Life!
With your tapestry needle and waste yarn, feed your needle and yarn through all the stitches on a given row. Leave the waste yarn there and work your pattern a few more rounds and add another Life Line. Make sure to follow your stitches as they are on your needle and don’t forget to skip your markers!
If you end up with a non-livable error in your piece, rip your stitches to your life line, slip the stitches back onto your circular needle and continue working your pattern.
It is best to always insert your Life Line at the same row on Lace patterns with repeats. Otherwise indicate on your chart or pattern the row you have a Life Line in.
Once you know your area of pattern stitches are perfect and you have Life Lines bellow for safety, just pull the waste yarn through the piece and admire your beautiful stitch work!
One of the most confusing things for first time “Lacers” is the art of yarn overs. Other countries have it with wording like: yarn in front, yarn in back, yarn around the needle, etc. I find that a bit confusing when you have so many abbreviations already to memorize — especially in a complicated Lace pattern. Maybe that is why the U.S. uses YO or Yarn Over to describe the many other uses of the placement and wrapping of the yarn. This is when you move your yarn in front. It will naturally move to the back again and “wrap around” the needle when you k2 again. Therefore, creating another stitch.
So, back to the confusing part! K2, yo, p2. Sounds easy enough. And it is. You just have to remember it like this: your yarn is in back for the k2, your yarn moves to the front for the p2—so how do you achieve the extra stitch for your Lace? Yes, you wrap the yarn around the needle again to obtain your extra stitch before your p2.
P2, yo, k2 is a very easy area to not keep your “yo” because you naturally move your yarn to the back for a knit sts and undo your yarn over. Here is how I remember to keep my yo on this lace combination: p2, yarn in front, k2. That way you keep your yarn over.
One last helpful hint. Your gauge. Lace is not for tight knitting. In fact many knitters have “loosened up” their knitting tension so movements on the needle can be accomplished. P3tog or passing a slipped stitch over another set of stitch can be impossible if your knitting is too tight.
As you can tell, it is best to practice a bit before casting on 220 sts and diving into the wonderful world of Lace pattern stitches. But, that is what you will find with Lace.
A wonderful new world of knitting to add to your own area of expertise.