Monday, May 1, 2017

Knitting -- lace

I have crocheted yards or miles of lace in my time but it took me forever to get the hang of knitting lace.

For this I used up leftovers from previous knitting. You'll recognize some of the colors in these samples if you saw the photos of the completed Fair Isle project.

There are mistakes in all of these, most of all that I shot the picture without first washing and blocking them. The top one is Shetland Old Shale (although it looks like feather-and-fan, it's worked differently), the brown is Shetland horseshoe, and the green is a leaf pattern. Youtube has videos teaching all of these patterns.

Lessons Learned:

Markers. When you are starting out, mark the edge of the boundary and then every repeat of the stitch-pattern. Otherwise until you memorize the pattern, you'll go crazy trying to figure out where you are horizontally. Vertically you can figure out from the boundary or if there is an internal marker as there is in the green leaf stitch pattern.

Which way?  You can knit rectangular projects shortways or longways.

Longways works better on a circular needle; the brown stole is 6 feet long and I was able to work it on a circular needle with a 24 inch tether.  Longways also makes it easier to produce longways stripes, of course. You need to be really good at calculating stitches per square inches or you will overbuy yarn or  -- worse -- underbuy and not be able to get the same dye lot when you repurchase yarn. If you are working a multicolor project, doing it longways means buying more yarn so as not to get stuck in the middle of a row. Luckily there are things like granny squares to use up the leftovers.

Shortways can work on straight needles and is better for crossways stripes. Calculating your needs is less critical. But it's harder to work vertical stripes if, like me, you are knitting up leftovers. 

Yarn overs.  One of the keys in knitting lace is that to make holes, you knit stitches together.  To compensate, you do something called a "yarn over".  If you don't do enough  "yo"s, you will come out with the wrong number of stitches on some rows. On the leaf lace, I had to unravel back to the start three times when I found mistakes like this.

I found it was easier to do "yo"s if I knitted continental style, with  the tail of yarn in my left hand.  If you tried my Fair Isle lessons, you know how to do that because it's how you carried your secondary color.  So find a video on Fair Isle knitting that shows you how to carry your yarn in that hand and practice for a while.

The purple throw pattern is free on the website where I get most of my yarn.  They tell you how to use three different weights of yarn to get a delicate scarf, a more substantial shawl, or a warm throw. You might think knitting holes would be the opposite of warm, but the holes help trap heat. I was surprised myself at how cozy that throw is.

Scarves.  Most lace patterns point in one direction. If you are making a scarf, it's useful to knit each end separately and then knit both sides together where they will go behind your neck. Otherwise on one side the pattern will be upside down. I did this with the leaf lace.

The Antique Pattern Library's knitting catalog

has PDFs of books with patterns for lace knitting like this one from 1902.

or this from 1955

It also has a companion to Isabella Beeton's Book of  Household Management, Beeton's Book of Needlework

Then there's this from a 1956 collection

You can buy the book here.

Also go to my last post, LOLLAPALOOZA, for the Vasquez site that teaches lots of knitting stitches.

Find Joannesweb's Youtube channel with more, including a traditional Shetland horseshoe stitch.

And see my next post on the subject of knitted lace.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

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