Lacy Knitting

Producing a piece of lacy knitting is a very satisfying thing to do. The hardest part is getting it started and set. After that you can see where you have to continue. As with other challenges in life, start with a fairly easy piece and work up to the more difficult. When you conquer this you will wonder why you ever thought it was going to be difficult.

Unlocking Knitting’s Mystery

5 Tips to Understanding Lace Knitting

By Alice Seidel

Over the years I have knitted items too numerous to count. Projects, large and small have made their ways off my knitting needles, and many have been challenging, to say the least.

I have learned so much from the more difficult pieces. I guess you could say, that’s indicative of all of life. Difficulties make us better, stronger. More confident. They help us to become “unstuck” in places we hardly knew we were anchored in.

So, if you are in the mood for stepping out of your comfort zone, then come with me. Come with me to the absolutely enchanted world of lace knitting.

Whenever you see lacy knitted items, whether they be shawls, scarves, shrugs, sweaters or afghans, they always appear to be way too complicated to knit! Yet, that is the the mystery revealed. The following are 5 tips explaining those “secrets revealed” when doing lace knitting.

Tip #1

Lace knitting is always based on simple patterns. You always follow these throughout the entire work. Where you see “openings”, these are created by yarnovers, and each yarnover comes in conjunction with decreased stitches.

For example, if you “yarnover”, you will also “knit 2 together” to keep your stitches even. At the same time, you have created an opening in your row. Once you know lace knitting very well, each row pattern will have many yarnovers and decreases, creating many “holes”, for a pattern which, once finished, will be absolutely stunning!

Tip #2

I love to use crochet cotton or fingering yarn for truly wispy pieces of delicate lacy projects. However, you can also use sport, worsted, or DK yarns, and they will knit up just as well. Mohair and silk are also good yarn choices. When knitting with a fine yarn, using a large needle will produce very impressive projects. Or using very small needles also produce beautiful lacy items.

Tip #3

Yarnovers are “stitches” added to the row you are working on. After knitting a knit stitch, you merely bring the yarn to the front between the needle tips, then over the top of the needle, to the back, then you knit the next stitch on the left needle. The yarnover appears as a “loose” stitch; yet when you encounter this same stitch on the next row, be sure to treat it as a real stitch and knit it!

To decrease stitches on a row, if you are looking for a right slant, then knit or purl the stitches together. If you want a left slant, then slip 2 stitches one-by-one to the right needle, insert the tip of the left needle through the front of these slipped stitches and knit them together. This is known as “ssk”, or “slip, slip, knit.”

Tip #4

Lace patterns take on many different looks. When repeated, they form patterns which look quite complicated, so you will always appear to be a knitting master, even if you don’t feel like one! Some lace patterns will have yarnovers and decreases worked on right sides only; the wrong sides will not add any of these stitches. Other patterns will work yarnovers and decreases on every row.

Very often, you will see lace patterns in chart form; always follow the keys given with the chart, and they are quite easy to use. Again, accuracy is what you are looking for here; keep track of which rows you have finished either with a row counter or simply by checking off with a pen and pad, each row when finished.

Tip #5

For the best success in knitting lace, do not rush! Take each row one at a time, and I recommend covering up the pattern instructions to reveal only the row you are currently working on. Use post-it notes or any device which will do the job.

Check your work as you go. Oftentimes, with lace knitting, the number of stitches you cast on will vary with each row you knit, due to increases and decreases, so don’t go by that particular number. As your project lengthens, though, you will start to see a very pretty pattern begin to emerge; if it looks like something else, you’d better take a second look!

Lace knitting comes with practice, and even I make mistakes or miss a stitch. Don’t start with a complicated shawl or tablecloth pattern as these are projects to grow into once you are very familiar with doing all the stitches effortlessly.

Start simple; some of the prettiest pieces are small and very effective; and remember, small is good. After all, aren’t diamonds a girl’s best friend?

Alice Seidel works as a freelance writer. She is the author of dozens of articles, a full-length book on knitting, and is the author and publisher of “Knit Stitch & Whimsy”, a monthly knitting newsletter. For details, visit ==>

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