Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lace 104 - Lace Knitting Tips

Diagonal Fern Lace from Barbara Walker's A Treasure of Knitting Patterns
 1. Start with simple patterns. Lace patterns with wrong side rows that are just purled or knit. You get a break, a "rest" row. Also patterns with fewer stitches in the repeat are easier to work.

2. Use stitch markers at borders, where there are always increases and if there are pattern changes. Use a different type of marker for each of these. Some knitters will also place a marker between each pattern repeat. It is easier to examine one pattern repeat and spot a mistake than finding it somewhere in the row when you are off a stitch.

3. Correcting Mistakes -not sure how to correct the error? Then rip back - one stitch at a time picking up the stitch before unraveling it off the needle. Be careful to pick up all the stitches in the decreases.
  •    If a stitch is dropped and you cannot figure out how to get it back in a pattern then put a locking stitch marker and rip back to that stitch to restore it back into the pattern.
  • You can figure out where you are in the pattern by looking at the row below or the beginning of the row you are working.
  • If you missed a yarn-over on a row or two below - those can be picked up without ripping back.
4. Use a Lifeline -  a little insurance against dropped stitches and major errors. Every few inches of work, or at the end of a pattern repeat, thread a waste yarn (called a lifeline) through the row of stitches that are on the needle. Then continue knitting. Nothing can run past this lifeline. If you drop a stitch or find an error, just pick up the stitches on your lifeline and unravel everything above it. You only lose a few inches of work instead of starting over.  
5. Find the Rhythm: In the beginning a lace pattern seems choppy as you read stitch by stitch. After a few rows or pattern repeats you will find the patterning that may or may not follow the knit pattern repeat. This may go something like this: yarn-over, knit 1, yarn-over, knit 5, yarn-over, knit 1, yarn-over, knit 5 – again and again across the row only changing at the end. It may take working several repeats of the pattern before this falls into place for you but watch for it. Recognizing the pattern makes knitting lace a joy. Charts help you “see” the rhythm too.
6. Watch the Row Below:  Be mindful of how the stitches line up with the ones on the row below.
  • Magnetic boards are great for this as is the highlighter tape that can be removed without damaging the paper. Place the marker above the row you are working on.
  • Notice when working a decrease that it usually is worked above a decrease below and creates a line that slants to the right or left. Now you have a line to follow.
  •  See how the yarn-overs may fall on either side of a yarn-over below. Note pattern of the yarn-overs and the lace pattern emerging.
  • Anticipate where the decreases and yarn-overs should be. If not knitting them in that anticipated order, check to see if you are off pattern, or maybe there is an error in the pattern. Whatever the case, you can fix it before getting to the end of the row.
  • Admire your work every few inches. This boosts your confidence and helps you find mistakes sooner. 
Russian Join
Joining New Yarns: In a garment join new yarns where the seams will be. With shawls and scarves, joins are done in the middle of the work. Try to do the joins in an area free of yarn-overs. With wool, wool blends and other protein fiber yarns, one option is to join the new yarn by knitting it together with the old yarn for a few stitches and go back later and weave in the ends.
For slippery yarns and non-wool yarns, a Russian join is the strongest although it creates a little thick spot. The Russian join is done by looping the new yarn around the old and with a sharp needle sewing the tails back into each yarn for a few inches.
4 ply yarn ready to splice here. Thankfully most lace yarns are 2-ply
 Another join that does not cause a thick area in the knitting is the splice join (AKA the spit join). With this technique, the plies are separated and cut to overlap. Hopefully some will twist back together but what holds it together is friction and moisture from your hands (or spit), rolling back and forth between the palms until the join is holding. This felts it slightly so it will not come apart. This works best with fibers that will felt such as wool and alpaca.
And finally, lace needs to be blocked to reveal its true beauty and it is incredibly satisfying to see this happen. See the kiwi blog on blocking – September, 2012.

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