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Some Little Lace Tricks

September 2

I recently found myself away from home for several weeks, hence the dearth of posts here.

When life hands you lemons make a shawl, I say!

Fortunately I was armed with a pattern (more about that in future posts), yarn and stitch markers.

 shawl, lace tips, lifeline

I always put lifelines into my lace knitting, and I’ve never regretted that yet. Although I usually like to use a thin cotton yarn as my lifeline, some on-the-road dental floss was the perfect substitute. If you’ve never used a lifeline, its a thinner yarn in a contrasting color that you thread through the live stitches on your needle. That way, if (in my case WHEN) you drop a stitch, the lifeline will catch it and keep it from running an alarming number of rows. I like to mark the pattern’s chart or text at the point where I put the lifeline in so I know where to resume from if I have to rip all the way back to the lifeline. Another thing I learned the hard way about lifelines…be sure to go around – and not through – stitch markers.

It’s hard to tell in this photo, since they’re hidden inside the curled-up work, but I love to use stitch markers between a given number of repeats. In this case, the pattern repeat was 8 stitches, so I placed a marker every three repeats for a total of 24 stitches between markers. Here’s my philosophy…either I am going to take a little time to count stitches between stitch markers as I go, or I am going to find out at the end of a row (or even further along in my work) that I’m off by a stitch or more and spend a lot of time tracking down the mistake. There may be some superhero knitters out there who do not make errors in their lace, but I am not one of them. Given that I am going to goof, counting between stitch markers every time limits my mistakes to just those stitches between markers. All that counting pays off in peace of mind.

Before I flew out the door for my unexpected trip, I had the presence of mind to toss a pad of Post-It notes into my bag. If you’re new to charts, you may like to use this popular method for keeping track of the row you’re working. By placing the Post-It above the row I’m working, I can see the rows I’ve already worked. It allows me to “read” my work, so I can verify that the yarnovers, decreases or plain stitches are lined up as they’re supposed to be.

 

If you’d like to read more about working charts and other tips, you might like to check out my Tips & Techniques page.

 

Starting Ishbel

March 13

I’m finally getting the chance to start a pattern I’ve been wanting to try for the longest time. Ishbel is a beautiful shawl design by Ysolda Teague. I’m making the smaller version, out of Swans Island fingering weight yarn.

Ishbel, Ysolda Teague, shawl, Swans Island, charts, how to knit

Every so often I get inquiries about how to work lace and/or charts. As a reminder, you can find an excellent (if I do say so myself) blurb in the Tips & Techniques section of my web site about how to work with charts. I like to use Post-It Notes to keep track of my place on a chart, but Ishbel’s chart is too wide. Highlighter tape comes to the rescue! I know some people like to put the tape right over the line they’re working on, but I’m so set in my ways, I put it just above the line just like I do when using the sticky notes.

Next comes the use of markers. Here’s my philosophy – either I can use markers, counting stitches as I go and fixing mistakes early on, or I can skip them, make mistakes way back in the work, then have to rip back to fix them when eventually I find my count is off, and be grumpy for an extended period of time. No thanks! I put markers every three repeats in Ishbel, giving me a manageable number of stitches to count. The pattern makes it so I have to shift the markers frequently, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. The coffee bean marker tells me, “Wake up – you’re coming to the center section!” The center is worked differently than the repeats.

Another anxiety reliever is the life line. That’s the contrasting color you can see in the photo. I’ve already had to rip back to the life line, and was very glad it was there! I’ll move it up at the end of the section I’m working on, so it’ll be ready to save the day again if needed.

If you’re new to lace and charts, or just needed a refresher, I hope you found this helpful!

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