My favorite tool for working with charts is Post-It Notes. You can get them in various widths, depending on the width of the chart. Stick the Post-It just above the chart line that you’re currently working on. This keeps track of what row or round you’re on, hides the rows you don’t yet need, and also allows you to see the rows below it that you’ve already worked. That way, if a purl stitch is supposed to be worked directly above a knit stitch, for instance, you’ll be able to see right away if you’re off track.
I don’t know of anyone who knits lace without making mistakes along the way. You can either find the mistake after several rows, and have to rip back, or you can count stitches as you go. I like to count as I go, even if it seems tedious. For me, ripping back lace and having to figure out which row I’m on is worse than counting all the stitches in every row. This is where stitch markers come in handy. Using charts, it’s easy to figure out how many stitches should be between the markers. Counting the stitches between the markers, as opposed to across a whole row, goes relatively quickly. (When the beginning of the round shifts, you may have to move the markers as well.)
Thanks to my teacher Brenda, I always use a lifeline. This is where you take some smooth waste yarn (in a lighter weight than the yarn you’re using) or dental floss and thread it through the stitches on your needle. Choosing a row/round without increases, decreases or yarnovers is best. Be sure to go around the outside of the stitch markers, not through them, or you won’t be able to move them up to the next row! Mark on your chart which row you put the lifeline so you can easily go back to it if needed. When you work the row after the lifeline, just be careful not to knit the lifeline into the stitch. Once you’ve given your work a close look and made sure everything looks just like the picture in the pattern, move the lifeline up. Even counting, I’ve made mistakes or dropped stitches and had to rip back to the lifeline, which made it well worth the effort of putting it in.
If you are as bad as I am at multi-tasking, you may want to save your lace knitting for quiet times without distraction. I’ve learned through experience that I simply cannot knit lace while knitting with my friends. I always keep a simpler project on hand for social knitting.