The very first thing I ever knitted besides a swatch was an oversized black lace mohair sweater. I was so incredibly proud that I was able to make these giant pieces of lacy fabric...until I went to put them together and discovered that one piece was almost twice as wide as the other piece. I had somehow managed to increase so many extra stitches that I had four extra repeats of the lace pattern going, and I had never noticed as I was working. Partly this was due to inexperience and a willingness to fudge (I was 15 and had an aversion to asking for help), but I'm sure it could have been largely avoided if I had used one simple little tool: stitch markers.
Placing a stitch marker between each repeat of a lace pattern not only helps you maintain the proper stitch count in each repeat across, but can help you quickly find where you made an error in a previous row. For instance, if you have a lace pattern with 14 8-st repeats, that's 112 stitches to keep track of. If you place a marker between each repeat across, that's 14 sets of 8 stitches. It's much easier to notice and correct when one set's missing a stitch, instead of realizing when you get stitch 109 that you're not going to have enough stitches to finish the row (and also now your motifs are all out of whack) because a yo was missing way back in pattern repeat one or two.
Taking a couple of seconds to place a marker between each repeat as you work your first row can save you a lot of time and frustration down the road. Knitting should be relaxing and fun, not filled with the frustration of trying to located missed yarn overs or unworked decreases!
Do you like knitting lace? Tell us about what you've made!
[Pattern shown above: Island Shawl]