Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Don't be scared of lace!

Lace knitting seems to bring out some of the most interesting opinions in the shop. Some people love it and some people hate it. Others are intrigued, but just plain intimidated by some part of the process whether it is the materials, tools, or pattern. So I thought I would share some things that can make lace knitting feel less intimidating, or a lace project feel more friendly.

You see there are some secrets (now keep this quiet!) to those comments that I hear all the time
about lace knitting in the shop.

Oh the yarn is so thin or slippery!
Oh the charts are so hard to read or follow!

Why is it so hard to keep track of my pattern or the number of stitches in each repeat?

1. Light. Yes, light. Lace is by definition a delicate open fabric and it can be difficult to work if you don't illuminate it. Why work in less than optimum conditions? Please don't try to knit lace in a darkened room in front of your television. But, if you do insist on sitting in a less than bright place to work on your lace, at least use the right tools! A Mighty Bright LED lamp clipped close to your project will give you better ligthing, but won't disturb anyone else near you....

2. Stitch markers. Yes, stitch markers. Nothing like knitting 400 or more stitches only to find at the end of the row that you must have mis-counted something earlier in the row. The tiny little Lace & Sock Rings are perfect! Place these between your repeats and you will tell almost immediately if/when you've lost your place.

3. Highlighter Tape. I don't know whose brilliant idea this was, but come on! You can't beat it. Removable, "re-stickable" tape that comes in different colors. Put it right on your pattern and the CHART so that it looks as if you've just used a highlighter pen to mark the row you are on. Cover the row below and the row above just to increase the odds of following the correct row of your chart!

4. Lace Needles. Addi Turbo makes needles specifically designed for working lace. These needles have a finer more tapered tip to help you with your delicate stitches and those finer yarns. They also have a special coating to increase the friction (not too much!) of slippery yarn moving over your needle. The nylon cord is extremely supple just like the regular Addi needles, and they come in lengths all the way up to 60" so you can fit all 10,000 stitches on your needle.

5. T-pins & Blocking Wires. There is nothing more disapointing than starting a gorgeous new lace pattern only to realize that your knitting looks like a giant blob of very fine fabric that bears no resemblence to the beautiful photo in your pattern. Don't fret! Everyone's lace projects appear bloblike until they have been blocked. Do yourself a favor, relax, brew a cup of tea, breath deeply and continue bravely on. Be content in the knowledge that t-pins and some sort of blocking wires (exhibit A or B) will help you achieve great things with your finished piece.

Now doesn't it seem like lace could be a great new adventure for your summer knitting?

and not so scary!

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