Lace Knitting – Top 6 Tips #knittingtips

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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.

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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.

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So like a knitting detective, Poirot if you will, these are the clues I have gleaned so far…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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).
  6. 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.

KnitWit

 

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Merry Christmas!

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This will probably be the last blog post of 2013, which will complete LouBug and KnitWit’s first year of blogging!

LouBug has gone AWOL with some foul bug picked up at work, damn those pesky germ vectors/students! I will be AWOL for different reasons over the next week or so, no doubt involving me searching for batteries for rogue children’s Christmas presents/scoffing Christmas chocolates thus preventing my hands from doing something more creative.

The end of the year is not complete without a few NYkR (new year’s knitting resolutions)…

1. Put some more marketing effort into my Stitch n Bitch group…knitting alone in a pub is starting to lose its appeal.

2. Actually read the three Stitch n Bitch books I bought over the summer.

3. Plan more projects ahead that can be easily picked up. I need to separate the planning and the do-ing, so that I can just get on with a project in the evening.

In the meantime, below is my newly knitted angel for our Christmas tree. The wings were substituted with tinsel ones, as I was momentarily blinded with panic and confusion with all the YO and SSK instructions for the knitted version. Hey ho. Need to add that to my list…4. Learn how to YO and SSK properly.

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Merry Christmas!

KnitWit

This I Have Learnt #stitchnbitch

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The above (tragic) photo is of me ripping back some dodgy cable on the wrist warmer twin. It was supposed to look like the other one (see below), but I have defied all previous evidence that ladies can multi-task.

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I attempted to knit the other warmer whilst also ‘bitchin’ at my Stitch ‘n Bitch group. Clearly a big mistake. My cable was all over the place, I kept having to count my stitches over and over again. Either I have grown a man brain over night ,and can thus only do one thing at a time, or I have to accept that decrepitude has set in.

With this in mind, I have devised a few rules for myself for my Stitch ‘n Bitch outings:

1. Don’t attempt anything more complicated that garter stitch.

2. Leave patterns at home, unless to be used as a handy coaster.

3. Leave the G&T alone…nobody likes to see a staggering mother armed with knitting needles at the school gate at 3pm.

4. Only bring projects that require chunky yarn and giant needles. This will disguise the disproportionate amount of ‘bitchin’ compared to ‘stitchin’.

With this in mind, I have flouted my own rule number 1 and am attempting a super-chunky lap blanket in basket weave. Those readers, who haven’t already clicked away, may recall a long-abandoned scarf I was going to knit, but only managed one square:

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This is the basis of my new ‘off-piste’ blanket. Below is what I managed on Friday, in between cackling at the previous night’s memories of disgraceful antics at the school-mums-on-the-razzle-Christmas-party and sipping a latte:

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Lots of little squares are the way to go, I think. Knit, knit, sip, sip, natter, natter.

KnitWit

To Market, To Market!

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In a bid to prevent a further ‘loon in corner of pub knitting’ incident again this Friday, I’ve decided to take some action.

I’ve managed to double the number of new recruits (from one to two) by cornering a friend of mine in the street. She doesn’t actually knit, but beggars can’t be choosers and all that. She does sew, which is definitely under the ‘craft’ umbrella and is fine with me.

Advert (above) to go in newsagent shop window tomorrow. The newsagent is cunningly opposite the Stitch ‘n Bitch pub/scene of the crime, so will hopefully attract a stampede of attention.

Wish me luck!

KnitWit

#StitchnBitch #DulwichVillage First Meet-Up!

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Yes, quite a lot of progress on the knitted cowl this afternoon…yes, that was largely because I was sitting ALONE in a pub knitting ALONE on a Friday afternoon…ALONE! Frenzied knitting, so that I didn’t look like a total weirdo sipping my Earl Grey in the corner…knitting.

It did remind me of that strange self-conscious feeling you get when you first step out and try and feed a teeny baby for the first time in public. Thinking everyone is looking, when in reality nobody really cares. This time round there was less chance of flashing a nipple at a random stranger, which was a bonus.

I did fear this would happen, due to the slightly last-minute and slightly poor efforts to advertise, but hey ho all was not lost. My trusted and loyal friend turned up after a while and all of a sudden I changed from a lone crazy knitter lady to a Stitch ‘n Bitch group!

Hilariously, we became mini celebs in the pub, chatting to the glass collector and a couple of personal trainers at the table opposite. Even in 2013, in London, we were a curiosity. My new fellow Stitch ‘n Bitcher, who claimed not to be able to knit, was knit, knit, knitting like a pro in no time at all and really enjoyed it. I started her off on some 6mm needles and some chunky, so as to see some progress fast and not get fed-up. No worries there though…another convert mwhaa haa haa!

The interesting thing was everyone we talked to was really enthusiastic about our woolly pursuit, from the ‘would love to learn’ to the ‘I love knitting, are you here next week?’. The enthusiasm was catching, so I’ve dismissed my earlier thought to give up and will be turning up bushy tailed next week. Am still toying with the dilemma as to whether a glass of wine before school pick-up is acceptable…any thoughts?

Crown & Greyhound, Dulwich Village, London Friday 1-3pm

KnitWit

I got 99 problems but a #StitchnBitch group ain’t one!

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Well, actually I had three (knitting) problems – 1. Wanting to go to a knit group 2. Being too lazy to go out after dark 3. Fear of nobody being there and knitting alone in a public space somewhere.

The solution? Create my own afternoon Stitch ‘n Bitch group of course!

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I managed to glean some advice from the Stitch ‘n Bitch knitter’s handbook, and LouBug, and have started my getting-some-knitters-so-don’t-look-weird-knitting-alone-in-pub campaign. So far I have three likely candidates, none of which can knit as far as I know – oh well!

So, if anyone has nothing better to do than knit on a Friday afternoon then please come and join us at the brand-new Dulwich Village Stitch ‘n Bitch group! Crown and Greyhound pub, 1-3pm.

KnitWit

Intarsia Brain Challenge

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Call me crazy – but I’m going for the knitting equivalent of running before I can walk. Or rather the equivalent of someone who can run, maybe, but has been metaphorically tied to a bed like a scene from “Misery” (but with fewer beatings from Kathy Bates and more ad infinitum shrieks of “mummy, mummy, mummy”), and is now unsure if their legs work.

Anyway, enough of my “relaxing” summer break – my point is, I’m feeling confident my shrivelled summer holiday jelly brain does have some capacity for learning, even after weeks of garter stitched snoods (see above for the latest effort).

I’m going to start my research on intarsia in preparation for my next knitting jaunt. Behold…The T-Rex!

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You’ll note that I’ll also have to do some sort of crash course in chart reading as well, but hey ho. The chart was taken from a book LouBug bought me by Nicky Epstein Knitting Block by Block

There are loads of great patterns in here, and loads of great ideas on what to do with all the blocks when you’ve finished them.

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I’m feeling confident all of the information I need to get started is going to be in my newly acquired copy of Stitch ‘n Bitch Superstar: Go Beyond The Basics by Debbie Stoller.

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I can almost feel the rusty cogs in my brain turning as I type…

KnitWit

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