Looky here, a gift – all the way from Alaska! Only a true knitter would go all the way to “The Last Frontier” and find a yarn shop…Behold, the newly crowned wilderness knitter, my mother-in-law. So, fresh from the land of grizzly bears and dog sledging, comes my latest challenge. Lace knitting.
Many, many abandoned projects have languished in its wake, but this time I AM GOING TO FACE MY CHALLENGE. I shall knit these mitts, if it kills me! So, a change in approach is called for. Rather than dive straight in, needles first, wailing and thrashing when it all goes wrong, I am going to take a more ‘cerebral’ approach. I am going to consult a book. Not just any old book either – The Stitch ‘n Bitch Superstar Knitting book beyond the basics. Ironically, the chapter in Debbie Stoller’s book is titled “Lace, the final frontier”, which considering my challenge has come all the way from the “Last Frontier” I am going to take this as a sign from the knitting gods.
So like a knitting detective, Poirot if you will, these are the clues I have gleaned so far…
- The holes in lace knitting, completed with cunning YO (yarn over) manoeuvre, are allowed. They do not spell disaster, as they would with other knitting. They do however create an extra stitch, which can be left if you’re making an ever-increasing shawl shape, or can be counteracted with various ‘knit two together’ variations. So far, so good.
- Pick your yarn carefully. The thinnest yarn is lace weight, but in theory any weight yarn can be used. Avoid the very hairy yarns, such as eyelash yarn, or yarn that has bobbles on it or changes size, as nobody will see your beautiful lace pattern. That just won’t do. Also, for maximum compliments, stick with one colour (rather than variegate) yarn, in order to see the pattern clearly.
- When picking needles, avoid slippery ones where the fiddly work might slide off in some devastating disaster of lost work and gnashing teeth. Also, those less-than-smooth circular needles should be banished to the knit box to avoid delicate lace work snagging…nobody wants their YO to KO.
- Lace charts look a bit like some sort of ancient Egyptian treasure map, but a few clues and they aren’t too bad. Read from the bottom row up, and hunt for the number 1. If the number 1 is on the left-hand-side then you’ll be starting work on the WS (wrong side) of your knitting and following the chart from left to right. If you discover the number 1 is on the right-hand-side, then you’ll be working on the RS (right side) of your knitting and reading the chart from right to left. Got that?
- Finally, remember that charts DON’T INCLUDE EVERY ROW! The numbers next to the row should give you a clue – if they jump from 1 to 3 to 5, then the pattern only corresponds to the lace pattern. Every other row is worked plain – for example the back of the work is plain purl (unless in the round, where it would be knitted).
- Get yourself some Post-it notes to keep your place…oh and one more thing, go and Google ‘knitting lifelines’. LouBug swears by dental floss, but you can just use opposite coloured yarn. This will mean, if you make a mistake, just ripping your work back to a safe place, rather than high kicking your work over the fence and screaming into a pillow.