The Basics of Knitting Lace: A Step-by-Step Guide

In “The Basics of Knitting Lace: A Step-by-Step Guide,” you will find all the information you need to master the art of knitting lace. Whether you’re a beginner or have some knitting experience, this article will guide you through each step, making it easy for you to create beautiful lace patterns. From choosing the right yarn and needles to understanding common lace knitting techniques, this guide has got you covered. So grab your knitting needles and prepare to embark on an exciting journey into the world of lace knitting!

Getting Started

Choosing the Right Needles

When it comes to knitting lace, selecting the right needles is crucial. Lace knitting often requires using smaller needles to create the delicate and intricate patterns. It’s recommended to choose needles that are sharp and smooth, as this will make it easier to work with finer yarn and execute the lace stitches with precision. Circular needles are a great option for lace knitting, as they can hold a large number of stitches and provide ample space for intricate lace patterns.

Selecting the Right Yarn

Choosing the right yarn for lace knitting is essential to achieve the desired results. Lightweight yarns such as lace weight or fingering weight yarns are commonly used in lace knitting. These yarns allow for the fine details and delicate appearance that lace knitting is known for. Additionally, yarns with a good amount of drape and stitch definition will enhance the beauty of lace patterns. When selecting yarn, consider factors such as the fiber content, color, and texture to complement your lace project.

Understanding Lace Knitting Terminology

Before diving into knitting lace, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the terminology specific to lace knitting. Understanding common terms such as yarn overs (YO), knit two together (K2tog), slip, slip, knit (SSK), and central double decrease (CDD) will enable you to read and follow lace patterns accurately. Taking some time to learn these terms will make the process of knitting lace much smoother and enjoyable.

Basic Lace Stitches

Yarn Over (YO)

The yarn over (YO) is one of the basic stitches used in lace knitting. It involves wrapping the yarn around the working needle to create an extra loop. This additional loop adds a decorative hole to the fabric and is often used to create the open and airy quality that lace knitting is known for. By mastering the yarn over stitch, you’ll have the foundation for creating a wide variety of lace patterns.

Knit Two Together (K2tog)

The knit two together (K2tog) stitch is a common decrease used in lace knitting. To execute this stitch, simply insert the needle through the next two stitches on the left-hand needle and knit them together as if they were one stitch. This decrease decreases the total number of stitches and creates a slant to the right in the lace pattern. The K2tog stitch is often used in combination with yarn overs to create the lacy motifs.

Slip, Slip, Knit (SSK)

The slip, slip, knit (SSK) stitch is another commonly used decrease in lace knitting. This decrease is done by slipping two stitches individually, one at a time from the left-hand needle to the right-hand needle, and then knitting them together through the back loop. Similar to the K2tog stitch, the SSK decrease helps shape the lace by creating a slant to the left. It’s often used in combination with yarn overs and other lace stitches to create intricate and visually appealing patterns.

Central Double Decrease (CDD)

The central double decrease (CDD) is a decrease stitch used in lace knitting to shape the fabric and create intricate motifs. To execute this decrease, slip two stitches together as if you were going to knit them together, but instead, knit the next stitch on the left-hand needle. Then, pass the two slipped stitches over the knit stitch and off the needle. This decrease creates a centered decrease with a decorative motif in the middle, making it a popular choice in lace knitting designs.

Reading Lace Charts

Understanding Symbol Key

Reading lace charts is an essential skill for lace knitting enthusiasts. Lace charts are visual representations of the lace patterns, using symbols to represent different stitches and actions. Each lace chart comes with a symbol key that explains the meaning of each symbol used in the chart. It’s important to take the time to understand the symbol key before starting on your lace project, as it will serve as your guide throughout the knitting process.

Following Right-to-Left and Left-to-Right Rows

Lace charts are typically read from right to left for odd-numbered rows and left to right for even-numbered rows. This convention follows the way lace patterns are knitted, with the odd-numbered rows being worked from right to left, and even-numbered rows being worked from left to right. By understanding this directional flow, you will be able to interpret the lace chart correctly and create the desired lace pattern.

Recognizing Common Lace Symbols

Learning to recognize and understand common lace symbols will greatly simplify the process of reading and working with lace charts. Some common symbols include a circle or O representing a yarn over (YO), a backslash or / indicating a decrease stitch, and an upward arrow symbol indicating a stitch to be passed over another stitch. By becoming familiar with these symbols and their meanings, you’ll be able to read lace charts with confidence and successfully execute the lace patterns.

Casting On and Setting Up

Long-Tail Cast On

The long-tail cast on is a popular choice for starting lace projects. It creates a stretchy, yet firm edge that complements the delicate nature of lace knitting. To perform the long-tail cast on, estimate the amount of yarn needed for the desired number of stitches and create a slip knot with a long tail. Then, using the tail as the working yarn and the slip knot as the first stitch, proceed to cast on the required number of stitches. This versatile cast on method is a great starting point for any lace project.

Provisional Cast On

The provisional cast on is another useful technique for lace knitting, especially for projects that require grafting or joining later on. This cast on method allows you to temporarily cast on stitches with waste yarn, which can later be removed, revealing live stitches that can be worked as desired. The provisional cast on is often used when creating lace motifs that need to be joined end-to-end, such as in lace shawls or scarves.

Creating Stitch Markers

When working on lace projects, stitch markers become essential tools to keep track of pattern repeats and decreases. Stitch markers come in various forms, including locking markers, split-ring markers, or even pieces of contrasting yarn. Place markers at the beginning and end of pattern repeats or when instructed by the lace chart or pattern. Using stitch markers will help you stay organized and minimize mistakes or confusion while knitting intricate lace patterns.

Setting Up a Lifeline

A lifeline is a handy technique in lace knitting that can save hours of frustration if mistakes are made. To set up a lifeline, thread a smooth, contrasting-colored yarn or dental floss through a tapestry needle. Carefully insert the lifeline through all the live stitches on the needle in your current row. By doing this, you create a safety net that can be used to rip back to that specific row, should you need to correct any mistakes or make adjustments without fear of unraveling all your hard work.

Working Lace Patterns

Working Rows of Stockinette Stitch

Before diving into intricate lace patterns, it’s essential to understand and practice working rows of stockinette stitch. Stockinette stitch consists of alternating knit stitches on the right side and purl stitches on the wrong side. By mastering the basics of stockinette stitch, you’ll develop a solid foundation for following lace patterns and adding lace stitches into your projects seamlessly.

Incorporating Lace Stitches

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, it’s time to start incorporating lace stitches into your knitting. By following the lace chart or pattern instructions, you’ll learn how to combine yarn overs, decreases, and other lace stitches to create beautiful lace motifs. Take your time and work at a comfortable pace, keeping an eye on your stitch count and ensuring the lace stitches are executed correctly. With practice, you’ll gain confidence and begin to appreciate the intricate beauty of lace knitting.

Using Increases and Decreases to Shape Lace

Increases and decreases are essential elements in lace knitting, as they allow you to shape the fabric and create the desired lace motifs. Yarn overs (YO) are commonly used to create increases, while knit two together (K2tog), slip slip knit (SSK), and central double decrease (CDD) are frequently used for decreases. By strategically placing increases and decreases within your lace patterns, you can achieve stunning results and bring your lace knitting to life.

Blocking Your Lace Knitting

Understanding the Importance of Blocking

Blocking is a crucial step in the finishing process of lace knitting. It involves gently shaping and stretching the finished lace project to bring out the beauty of the lace stitches and ensure the desired measurements. Blocking helps even out the tension, opens up the lace motifs, and allows the stitches to relax and settle into their intended shape. By blocking your lace knitting, you’ll achieve a professional-looking finish and enhance the overall appearance of your project.

Preparing Your Finished Project for Blocking

Before you block your lace project, it’s essential to prepare it properly. Start by weaving in any loose ends to ensure they’re secure and won’t come undone during the blocking process. Gently hand wash your lace project using a wool wash or mild detergent, being careful not to agitate the delicate fibers. Rinse thoroughly and squeeze out excess water, taking care not to wring or twist the fabric. Lay the project flat on a clean towel and gently roll it up to remove even more moisture.

Choosing the Right Blocking Tools

When blocking lace knitting, you’ll need a few essential tools to ensure the best results. Blocking mats or an unused mattress pad can provide a soft and supportive surface for pinning your lace project. T-pins or blocking wires are used to hold the fabric in place during the blocking process. A measuring tape and blocking ruler are handy tools to ensure accurate resizing and shaping. By investing in the right blocking tools, you’ll be equipped to tackle even the most intricate lace projects.

Step-by-Step Blocking Instructions

To block your lace knitting, start by laying it out on a clean and smooth surface. Gently stretch the fabric to the desired measurements, taking care not to distort the lace motifs. Use t-pins or blocking wires to secure the edges and corners of the project, ensuring even tension throughout. If necessary, use additional pins to emphasize specific lace motifs or open up certain areas. Once the project is pinned to your satisfaction, leave it to dry completely in a well-ventilated area. Once dry, carefully remove the pins, and your beautifully blocked lace project is ready to be admired.

Fixing Mistakes in Lace

Tinking Back Stitches

When working on lace projects, it’s not uncommon to make mistakes. Fortunately, there are ways to fix these errors without having to unravel your entire project. Tinking, which is knitting backward stitch by stitch, can be used to undo any unwanted stitches and go back to the point where the mistake occurred. By carefully picking up the stitches with a knitting needle and undoing them one by one, you can correct mistakes in your lace knitting and continue with confidence.

Using a Lifeline to Correct Mistakes

If you’ve set up a lifeline, correcting mistakes in lace knitting becomes much more manageable. When you encounter an error or realize the lace pattern is not coming out as intended, you can simply rip back to the lifeline row and start again from there. The lifeline acts as a safety net, preventing further unraveling and allowing you to correct mistakes easily without losing progress or becoming discouraged.

Recovering Dropped Stitches

Dropped stitches can be a common occurrence in lace knitting due to the intricate nature of the patterns. If you spot a dropped stitch, don’t panic. With a crochet hook or knitting needle, carefully maneuver the dropped stitch back onto the needle, paying attention to the direction and path the stitch should take. Once the stitch is securely back on the needle, carefully tighten it to match the tension of the surrounding stitches. By calmly addressing dropped stitches, you’ll be able to maintain the integrity of your lace project.

Adding Beads to Lace

Choosing the Right Beads

Adding beads to your lace knitting can bring an extra touch of elegance and sparkle to your projects. When choosing beads, consider their size, color, and material to ensure they complement your lace pattern and yarn. Beads with larger holes are easier to thread onto the yarn, while smaller beads can create a more intricate and delicate look. Experiment with different bead sizes and colors to find the perfect combination that enhances your lace knitting.

Pre-stringing Beads

Pre-stringing beads onto your yarn before knitting can save time and make the process of adding beads to your lace pattern smoother. To pre-string beads, use a beading needle or a small crochet hook to thread the beads onto the yarn prior to starting your project. This method allows you to place the beads quickly and seamlessly as you knit, without the need for re-threading beads after each placement. By pre-stringing beads, you’ll have more control over their placement and be able to achieve a more uniform look.

Placing Beads with a Crochet Hook

Another method for adding beads to your lace knitting is using a crochet hook. This technique involves sliding the bead onto the stitch before knitting it and then transferring the stitch back onto the left-hand needle. By incorporating the bead into the stitch in this way, you’ll securely attach the bead to the project and create a visually stunning effect. With practice, you’ll become confident in placing beads with a crochet hook and be able to incorporate them seamlessly into your lace patterns.

Incorporating Beads into Lace Patterns

Once you’ve chosen your beads and mastered the methods of adding beads to your lace knitting, it’s time to explore incorporating them into your lace patterns. Beads can be placed strategically within the lace motifs to add sparkle to individual stitches or highlight specific elements of the pattern. Experiment with different bead placements and densities to achieve the desired effect and create a truly unique and eye-catching lace project.

Advanced Lace Knitting Techniques

Multiple Yarn Overs and Decreases

As you become more proficient in lace knitting, you may want to experiment with more complex lace patterns. Multiple yarn overs (YOs) and decreases can be used to create intricate lace motifs with a higher level of detail. By combining multiple YOs and decreases within a row or across multiple rows, you can achieve stunning lace patterns that showcase your advanced knitting skills. With practice and patience, you’ll be able to execute these complex techniques and create breathtaking lace projects.

Creating Nupps

Nupps are small, decorative bobbles commonly used in Estonian lace knitting. They add texture and dimension to lace patterns, creating visual interest and a unique touch. To create nupps, multiple individual stitches are worked into a single stitch, resulting in a raised cluster of stitches on the fabric. While nupps require extra effort and concentration, they can add a distinct and intricate element to your lace knitting for those looking to take their skills to the next level.

Cable and Lace Combinations

Combining cable stitches with lace motifs offers an opportunity to truly showcase your knitting skills and creativity. By incorporating cable stitches alongside lace patterns, you can create intricate and visually stunning designs. This combination allows for the interplay between the solidity and structure of cables and the airy and delicate nature of lace. Experiment with different cable and lace combinations to add a unique touch to your lace projects and create one-of-a-kind knitted masterpieces.

Finishing Your Lace Project

Weaving in Ends

Once you’ve completed the knitting portion of your lace project, it’s important to take care of any loose yarn ends to ensure a polished finish. Use a tapestry needle to carefully weave the ends into the wrong side of the fabric, following the path of the stitches. Take care to maintain the tension and not pull the stitches too tight or too loose. Weaving in ends ensures that your lace project remains secure and tidy, ready to be enjoyed or gifted.

Adding a Border or Edging

Adding a border or edging to your lace project can provide a beautiful finishing touch and enhance the overall design. Borders and edgings can be worked directly onto the live stitches of the project or added separately and sewn on. Whether you choose a simple picot edge, a delicate scalloped border, or a more intricate lace edging, these additions can elevate your lace project and give it a truly unique and personalized touch.

Blocking After Finishing

After weaving in ends and adding any desired borders or edgings, it’s important to give your lace project a final blocking. Blocking after finishing helps to set the stitches, even out the fabric, and add that professional touch to your work. Follow the same blocking instructions mentioned earlier, ensuring that the lace project is pinned out to the desired measurements and allowed to dry completely. By blocking after finishing, you’ll enhance the overall appearance of your lace project and ensure it maintains its shape and drape for years to come.

So, how do you knit lace? With the right tools, thorough understanding of lace knitting terminology, and mastery of various lace stitches, you’ll be well on your way to creating stunning lace projects. Don’t be afraid to start with simpler lace patterns and gradually work your way up to more intricate designs. Whether you’re creating a delicate lace shawl or a lacy sweater, the process of knitting lace allows you to unleash your creativity and produce beautiful, heirloom-quality pieces. So grab your needles, select the perfect yarn, and dive into the wonderful world of lace knitting. Happy knitting!