This is a guest post from Amy Kaspar, Chicago Knitting Examiner for Examiner.com.
Getting over your fear of knitting lace. Are you a newer knitter, ready to break up with the standard knit-and-purl for a yarn over or two? Do you have a lace pattern you want to try, but you are afraid to do so? I have been there…we ALL have been there. After all, lace knitting involves two things we were taught to NOT do as new knitters: drop stitches, and throw the yarn over the needle to cause an extra stitch and a hole to show up.
It’s okay, though. Lace doesn’t have to be scary, as long as you utter these three words to yourself: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Grab a ball of medium-weight, non-fuzzy yarn and a needle size one up from what you would normally use on that yarn. When practicing, you want to be able to see what you are doing! I used Cotton Ease Cherry and size 9 needles for the demonstration. Also, try to steer clear of distractions, turn off the TV, and cast on in a place where you can have a high concentration level.
|1. Start with something simple. Lace patterns are just a series of yarn overs and decreases, so every time you yarn over, pair it with a decrease. The bottom row of eyelets is just K1, *(yo, k2tog) to last st, K1…similar to Row 9 of the Sweetheart Shawl pattern. The row above it is the same thing, except instead of *(yo, k2tog), a right-leaning decrease, I did *(skp, yo), a left-leaning decrease. I began and ended with the same 24 stitches on the needle.|
|2. Read your knitting. The more familiar you are with how stitches look on the needle, the easier it will be to follow if you are unsure of what you just knitted. See the stitch to the left of the yarn over? It looks like there is a stitch hanging from another stitch. That’s what skp looks like.|
|3. Use a lifeline! Yarn overs and decreases are difficult to pick back up if you have to rip out for a mistake. Take a tapestry needle and thread it with some crochet thread. Run it under the stitches on your needle at a point where you know your work is correct. If you have to rip back later, the lifeline will hold your stitches in place and tell you where to insert your needle. Just be careful not to knit the lifeline into the next row. I put mine into the Diagonal Eyelet Lace portion of the Lace Sampler Scarf pattern (a perfect first lace project, by the way…you see different patterns in addition to various ways of increasing and decreasing):|
|4. Have faith. Trust the pattern. It may look like a jumbled mess on the needle, but a lot of lace patterns need to be stretched and blocked to reach their full beauty, and you need to knit at least two cycles of the pattern to really see how fabulous the pattern will look. The one on the left is the lace pattern in the Gray Lace Cowl, and the one on the right is the stitch pattern in the Cloud White lace Scarf:|
|5. Finally, when in doubt, COUNT! It works like this – Row 1 of Diagonal Eyelet Lace (above) reads “K1, *yo, skp, k6; rep from * to end of row.” So the repeat section (yo, skp, k6) requires 8 stitches…two for the skp, and six for the k6. The first stitch is K1, so you need a multiple of eight stitches (repeat section), plus one (the K1 at the beginning), for the pattern. When I did this pattern, I had to add a stitch to come up with 25 (8+8+8+1), since I started with 24 stitches.|
Keep practicing on the same ball of yarn. By the middle of the practice ball, you will feel comfortable knitting lace. By the end of the ball, you will have a unique sampler scarf full of techniques you tried before diving into the patterns that use them! People will compliment you on your scarf or project, and you can use the tried and true, “Oh, this old thing?” and walk away feeling like the prettiest Lace Princess in all the Land. You CAN do it!