Monday, 27 October 2008

Knitted Lace - too scary!

I've been knitting for forty years and nothing much fazes me but knitting lace is the one experience that has almost made me give up on a project!

Firstly, let's all understand my terms. Lace knitting and knitted lace are two different things. Lace knitting I've done many times, though never with lace-weight. 3 ply baby yarn was used for my last lace knitting project. So what is lace knitting? And how is it different from knitted lace?

Lace Knitting has a pattern on only one side of the fabric; the reverse side is either simple knit or purl rows. This means that the holes created by yarn overs have two thread between them because they are two rows apart.

Knitted lace, on the other hand, has a pattern on both sides; thus there is only one thread between adjacent holes.

So, if I have so much experience and a modicum of knowledge - what's the problem? The problem is a combination of my aging eyesight and P2 tog in fine yarn. Let me give you an example:

Yesterday I dropped a stitch. Now that in itself is not usually a problem, I just pick up the stitch and carry on. Even if it unravels down a few rows I can fix the problem. But... the stitch I dropped was K2 tog in the previous row, and P2 tog the row before that, and K2 tog the row before that [you get the idea]. I saved that dropped stitch two rows back [while it was only four stitches!!] and now all I had to do was tink back 172 stitches [86 per row], right? No way, Jose! P2 tog has proved to be notoriously difficult for me to tink because a) the stitches are twisted around each other and b) the yarn is so fine I can't see where to insert the needle to tink! [I had my eyes tested two weeks ago but I'm still waiting for my new glasses. The optometrist said the prescription wasn't that much different!] So by the time I had tinked back one row I had dropped stitches which had unravelled way back - some three or four rows. Every K2 tog or P2 tog [there are fifteen per row] unravelled one way or another. Let me repeat, I am an expert tinker but this had me stumped.

So, close to tears, I put my knitting down and made my way to the computer. "What's a lifeline?" I wanted to know. So now I do know and I will use one every six rows for the rest of this stole - I have to knit it, it's DD's wedding stole and she really wants this one! Besides, no knitting will ever be allowed to defeat me!!

But first I had to unravel the whole thing; that had taken several hours of knitting because I knit the first eight rows three times - yes, my friends, I've had me some stinking tinking experience!

And another issue is I don't know how much knitting and unravelling this yarn can take - it's starting to look a little fuzzy!

One hint for those of you about to start on your first knitted lace: knit up a swatch in a thicker yarn first so you can see how the pattern works then you'll be able to understand what all those /, \ and O's do. You'll be able read your knitting and see if you are on the right track! Believe me, your knitting won't look like the graph! How can it? The graph has no way to show the results of knitting two stitches together.

Wish me luck in getting this finished by the end of January!


  1. Good Luck! I predict that you'll soon be flying along :) Once you get your new glasses, and get into the rhythm of the knitting, you might even start to enjoy it!

  2. I'm sure you can do it - once you get into the swing of the pattern, you'll probably find you won't need the lifelines. If you are using KP interchangeable needles, you can thread a lifeline as you are knitting (by using the hole in the end of the needle - thread your lifeline through that, and it goes into your knitting as you knit!). Good luck!

  3. In my limited lace experience; don't rip back; just correct above the error by doing whatever you have to do to get the count right! The final results will be fine!

  4. Thsanks for all the hints. I publish some more on my progress tomorrow!

    Rose Red, I can't see how the lifeline works while sitting at the computer but I'm sure it will be clear when I pick up the knitting! Right now I've just come in from a hot car - I'm very warm and sticky! According to the Bureau of Meteorology, in Penrith it's 34*C [93*F] and the humidity is a surprisingly low 22%!

  5. Would help if I could spell on my own comments page - I hit 'publish' instead of preview'.

    Thanks anyway and I will keep you informed of my progress!

  6. Oh boy. The cries of the lace knitter. I've been there. In fact I've been there too often. Horrible.

    But you've learned some excellent stuff! Lifelines are a godsend and I never thought of doing a swatch in heavier yarn - I think that's an inspired idea!

    I'll be writing a post about who's doing what tonight so this will be a really good tip for people!

  7. You just need to get used to it - soon baby yarn will seem like 8ply ;)

  8. I have the utmost respect for you to even attempt it, but what a great motivator knowing you have a deadline and a special person who will be the recipient. GO LYNNE!!!!

  9. Yes, lifelines linfelines lifelines! So sorry you had to frog back so much.


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