Sunday Lexicon – Lace For Beginners

Knitting lace in public draws a lot of attention. Lace is impressive, especially to non-knitters or even new knitters. What I love about lace is it is often REALLY easy! Stop laughing, because I’m quite serious.

I’m going to assume you know how to do a long-tail cast on, a stretchy bind-off, and of course, how to knit and purl. The key to basic lace is knowing four more simple stitches and one technique. Unless you are working on Estonian or Shetland lace, well known for their complicated stitch combinations, lace work is often less confusing than cables.

Rather than try to explain how to do each stitch, I’ve linked to video tutorials. If you can master these five things, YOU can knit lace! If you like a video tutorial, please be sure to leave a nice comment on youtube for that video. It takes a lot of work to make an easy to follow tutorial, so show a little love ❤

Yarn Over (YO): The YO is what gives lace the holes. It’s what makes lace…well, lacy! It’s as simple as moving your working yarn from the back to the front (if doing a YO between two knit stitches), wrapping it completely around from front to front (if going from a knit to a purl or between two purls), or leaving it in front (if going from a purl to a knit).

This video by iknitwithcatfur shows how to do every combination of yarn over.

 

Slip Slip Knit (SSK): This creates a left leaning single decrease, often used to emphasize a V shape of some kind. While reading patterns out loud to myself, I refer to it as a “sskitch,” as in slip slip knit stitch. Video by The Knit Witch.


Knit Two Together (K2Tog): This creates a right leaning single decrease, also used to emphasize a V shape. Video by The Knit Witch

 

Centered Double Decrease (CDD), also known as Slip Two, Knit One, Pass Slipped Stitches Over (S2, K1, PSSO): This decreases by two and leaves a raised stitch. I love putting beads on CDD (S2K1PSSO) because the raised stitch makes beads stand out even more. The key to beading a CDD using the crochet hook method is to put the bead on the second stitch before slipping the first two stitches. Your bead will be front and center when you are done! Video by New Stitch A Day.

 

Lifeline: The most important thing to know about lace, especially if you want to avoid pulling out all of your hair in frustration, is how to use a lifeline. This is not a stitch, but a technique that will keep you from insanity when something goes more than a little awry. I generally use white sewing thread on a tapestry needle, but you can use waste yarn or the ever popular dental floss. Floss is extremely hardy and cheap. Leave about six to eight inches hanging on each side so it doesn’t get sucked all the way in to your work. If you put a lifeline in the row after each repeat (set of rows), not only will you have a spot to frog back to, you can keep track of how many repeats you’ve done. Video by The Knit Witch.


Many mistakes have quick fixes that don’t require tinking back a row or two or frogging back to a lifeline. Have an extra stitch? Just knit the next two together. Missing a stitch where you need to k2tog? Just knit one. Missing a stitch where you need one? Knit through the front and back loop of the next stitch (or previous stitch if that’s more appropriate), or do a Make One (M1).

My favorite super easy beginner knitted lace shawl is the Kuura (free pattern on Ravelry). I can whip it out in a week, and I’m a slow knitter. The pattern is easy to memorize and it’s very forgiving of mistakes. Just make sure that your CDDs match up and everything else will fall in place. Gauge isn’t important, but it does affect the size. If you want a fast shawl that is a good length and width, use a worsted weight yarn and a size 9 needle. Faster and easier? Use a bulky yarn and a size 11 needle.

Believe it or not, Morrigan (also free on Ravelry) is another very simple pattern that just looks crazy impressive. Technically, I’m just about done with it but I want it to be longer and wider so I have to add a few more repeats. Again, gauge affects the size, so if you want fast and easy, use the same recommendations above. With Morrigan, just as with Kuura, as long as your CDDs match up in a straight line, the rest is pretty forgiving.

You don’t have to be smack dab in the middle of a shawl to practice these stitches. Knit up a swatch in garter or stockinette, then start playing around. That’s the best way to see exactly what each stitch looks like and how it behaves. Once you’ve got the hang of it, jump right in. You’ll be the center of attention in public and your non-knitting friends will think you are a knitting genius. The simplicity of knitted lace will be our little secret!

P.S. As of August 1, all new content will only be posted to my new site, www.knitpurltink.com. Just click that link, then click the “Follow” up near the top left!

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Friday On The Needles – Flames!

(Ok, I know this is late, but better late than never, right? Just pretend you are reading this last Friday!)

This has been a busy week of project swapping. I started a scarf but got about 40 rows in and decided I didn’t like it, frogged it, and started another.

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The Mariner’s Scarf. I like the basket weave, but it just wasn’t draping right with this particular yarn.

 

The Winter Flame Scarf is much more suited to this particular yarn. It requires a stiffer drape so that the stitch definition really shows.

The yarn is much more suited to the Winter Flame Scarf. It requires a stiffer drape so that the stitch definition really shows…now if only my phone camera would cooperate.

I checked out Wendy Knits Lace by Wendy D. Johnson from the library and fell in love with several of the designs, particularly the Tiffany Shawl and the Two-Thirds Shawl. I had the perfect violet bamboo yarn for the Tiffany Shawl in my stash, so I whipped up the first chart in the pattern.

The beginning of Chart A of Wendy D. Johnson's Tiffany Shawl.

The beginning of Chart A of Wendy D. Johnson’s Tiffany Shawl. Not sure how I feel about the stitch definition with this yarn/needle combo, either. May try a smaller needle before I commit.

However, for the Two-Thirds Shawl, I faced the classic knitter’s dilemma. In spite of the countless skeins of yarn in my stash, I did not have enough of any of them. Seriously? I’m obviously slacking on my stashing here! Fortunately, a friend handed over a gorgeous hand dyed skein of pure bamboo cobweb. My favorite LYS owner offered to wind it for me if I was willing to bring it in when she didn’t have a class going. However, my being the impatient sort, I decided to wind it myself, without so much as a second pair of hands. HUGE mistake. Or as I like to refer to it, a horrifying tactical yarn disaster. With three cranks of my ball winder’s handle, my beautiful skein turned into a somewhat hopeless pile of thread spaghetti.

Lesson learned: buy a yarn swift or wait for the LYS to wind it!

Lesson learned: buy a yarn swift or wait for the LYS to wind it!

I have spent several hours a day for the last four days unraveling the mess a few inches at a time. This is a 1050 yard skein, so 3150 feet of  tangled web. It will be months before I’m done winding it, but I did learn a valuable lesson in patience.

Wendy Knits Lace is well written with easy to follow pattern instructions. As a bonus, the pattern charts can be downloaded from the publisher’s website, so no trying to scan the chart and ending up with blurred symbols. I’m not a huge fan of the 3in1 stitch used in the Stacy Shawl, as I think it twists the yarn excessively, but most of the other patterns are quite straightforward. Wendy includes something from the most popular wearable categories, including scarves, shawls, socks, caps, and sweaters. As one of my LYS owners said in a recent knit group, she only buys books that have at least three patterns that interest her. Wendy Knits Lace meets that requirement and more.

My KnitPicks order came today and I am overwhelmed with smooshiness! All of my wool and alpaca is so soft and luscious, I can’t wait until winter! Okay, maybe I can because if not, I’d never have these projects done in time. I immediately dug out a skein of Swish DK in Coal and started the first few rounds of the Eva Marie hat. This is my first “in the round” project, so I was thrilled to have my join turn out surprisingly effortless, thanks to this fabulously helpful video from New Stitch A Day!

For the moment, Morrigan is taking a break, and the Quilt and Cable is still in time-out. I’ll get back to them soon, no worries.

I managed to make it to my Saturday and Sunday knit groups, as well as my Tuesday morning, but haven’t been anywhere since then. My lovely daughter turned 21 (that’s her in my header!) on Tuesday, so we took her out for karaoke and some not so wild drinking. Because she’s only had a margarita here and there, she has no tolerance and spent Wednesday trying not to move in an effort to keep water down. She very cleverly took Wednesday off from work, so she had the entire day and half of Thursday to recover and I stayed home to take care of her.

Last night, I had a painful flare of PCS (precordial catch syndrome) that lasted until 6am this morning. In spite of pain meds, I spent the night tossing and turning because I couldn’t breathe. I am hoping that taking time to stretch in between knitting frenzies will help it from happening too often. Just another bunch of letters to add to my alphabet soup of pain syndromes. Thank goodness for knitting, because it really helps take my mind off much of the pain.

In spite of that, I’m going to this weekend’s knit groups come hell or high water.

Friday On The Needles

It’s been a long and busy week. I started the Morrigan shawl on Sunday and I’m about 3/5ths done already. I love love love these easy patterns that look so intricate! Even though I’ve been super tired this week and have had to take naps and go to bed early several times, I still managed to get quite a bit knitted up.

It helps that I made the effort to go to Wednesday night’s Inskein Asylum, a knitting meet-up at my LYS, Inskein Yarns. Of course, there were a few distractions when I first walked in the door, like the long shelf with tons of gorgeous yarn all 40% off. I managed to keep myself under control, just barely. I met more knitters and had a blast. Conversations always start with, “What are you working on?” and go on to, “And then he took off his clothes…” Knitters are quite passionate, with yarn or without!

Tonight is another knitting meetup at another LYS, Yarnivore. It will be my first one there, but I’m sure a few of the people that I met last Saturday will be at this group too. I’m just hoping for comfy chairs. My tailbone can’t handle another evening of uncomfortable chair pressure; I’m still recovering from last weekend.

This week, I’ve mainly worked on Morrigan while the Quilt and Cable throw is in time-out. I went to pick it up on Sunday evening and discovered that I made a terrible cabling error that was super obvious, so I had to frog it back six rows. SIX! I wanted to cry. That’s well over 2000 stitches. I finally got that done yesterday afternoon, so it’s ready for me to pick it up again in a few days.

My main problem with these two patterns is that I’m working both of them on 7 needles. Although my Chiaogoo interchangeables came with three small cables, I only have one pair of each needle size. Fortunately, my needle set came with end stoppers so it’s not that hard to switch them out. The other problem is that I only have a 14″, 22″, and 30″ cable. The Quilt and Cable throw is 5.5 feet long, which barely squinches onto my 30″ cable. Back when the set came out, that was the longest available, but after a quick check on Amazon, I found they now carry 37″ and 50″ cables! FIFTY inches! I double checked on eBay and found them for a few bucks cheaper, so I ordered it in both the large and small diameters as well as a second set of end stoppers. Having that extra length will make my life so much easier, especially when working up a large shawl or a side to side scarf. Ever since I got them, I’ve used my interchangeables for everything. I’m so used to the flexibility and the small needle length, it makes my straights seem bulky and uncoordinated.

Last night was a little splurgy after I received an email from KnitPicks about their yarn sale. OMG! Who can resist cashmere for less than $5 a skein? I bought some alpaca, Peruvian Highland, and merino (regular and some superwash), as well as a set of Caspian cable needles. I tried using regular cable needles but they are too small and slick; I tended to drop stitches when the needle slipped out. The Caspian cable needles come in three sizes and they have ridges to keep stitches from dropping. Genius!

Of course, now the question is what to work on next? I’ve been furiously adding patterns to my Rav queue, and I ordered this year’s Knit Scene Accessories issue because it features a beautiful hat and cowl set by SusannaIC, the Eva Marie. I also plan to pick up Dee O’Keefe’s Lace Triangle Collection ebook. All four of the shawls in the collection are breathtaking and I can’t wait to get started on them. Meanwhile, work continues on Morrigan. I’ve finished the third repeat, so technically I only have one more repeat to go, but I want mine a bit longer so I may add another one or two repeats. We’ll see how much yarn I have at the time.

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My son graciously modeled for me. You can see my life lines in white. I may be insane but I’m not crazy! I’m not using stitch markers, but I always use life lines.

Have a great weekend and remember, “Knit through everything!”

Blue Heart

One would think that by now, I’d learn my lesson about crocheting at bedtime. Nope. Most mornings, I wake up with hook and yarn in hand, a pattern on my chest, and a whole lot of frogging to do. It never fails…bedtime crochet is always such a disaster.

Fortunately, with my current project, I am having a hard enough time following the reps while I’m awake. For a change, I was smart enough to put it all away when I started to feel sleepy. As comforting as it is to crochet while the rest of the house is asleep, I didn’t want to spend my morning unraveling a disaster.

I’m currently working on Doris Chan’s “Blue Curaçao,” which is a pineapple lace shawl. I’m using a finer yarn than the pattern calls for, so I will likely have to add another row of pineapples…or call it a shawlette. Hm…that sounds much easier.

I wonder if she meant to call it “Blue Coração.” Coração is Portuguese for “heart” and is pronounced much like “corazón.” While there are many differences between Spanish and Portuguese, there are also many similarities, if one knows the code…like “ão” is pronounced “ón.” My daughter works at a Brazilian Churrascuria, and is slowly learning the different words, as several of her coworkers are from Brazil. Since she is fully fluent in Spanish, it’s not a difficult leap.

This particular shawl could be quite festive if made in bold colors, however I’m using a frosted blue. I am trying to decide if I should block it, or leave it loose and ruffly. Here are the first 14 rows:

It’s actually much easier to see the pineapples in the picture than in real life. I forget how pretty they are, because at the moment, all I see is a pile of stitches. I’m hoping to finish this today.

Do you have a favorite pattern type? Do you prefer clusters, fans, pineapples, cables, or motifs? Or do you stick to straight stitches?