Lace Knitting Patterns: What Does “No Stitch” Mean?

Lace knitting is one of the most beautiful things to make with yarn and needles. There seem to be infinite lace stitch patterns, and you can use them in so many ways, from an intricate lace stole to a bit of lace inserted in a hat or collar.

Knitting lace looks so complicated, but it’s really a series of increases and decreases worked strategically to create holes in knitting that form a pattern. Knitted lace patterns are almost always accompanied by charts, and it’s important to know how to use these charts to knit lace successfully

In Lace Knitting for Beginners, Editor Amy Palmer has pulled together 11 knitted lace projects, plus a guide to following lace charts.

One of the questions I get a lot on Knitting Daily is “What does ‘no stitch’ mean in a chart?” Here’s Amy to answer that for us!

No Stitch? Huh?

Things get more complicated when the stitch count does not remain constant. The Double Fern Edging chart, below, shows what happens when yarnovers are not matched with the same number of decreases every row:

Learn about lace knitting stitches and what 'no-stitch' means in this article.

The first big question: What are those gray boxes in the middle of the chart? These shaded boxes are “no stitch” symbols. They are inserted in a chart when a stitch has been decreased and therefore leaves a hole where there was a stitch previously.

You can see on Row 2 that two stitches are decreased (with k2togs) without compensating yarnover increases. This effectively removes two stitches from the row, leaving you two fewer stitches to work individually on Row 2 and, subsequently, Row 3.

By placing a no-stitch box next to each decrease, the chart-maker is telling you, “This stitch will no longer exist and should not be worked on this row.” The k2tog is worked over two stitches but is represented by only one stitch box. Therefore, the second stitch box, removed by the decrease, because the black hole we call the “no-stitch box.” Just ignore the no-stitch box and do not work it. Work the stitch before the no-stitch box, then the stitch after the no-stitch box, and continue on your merry way.

—Amy Palmer, from Lace Knitting for Beginners

For more about knitting from lace charts, get yourself Lace Knitting for Beginners! Both the eBook and the printed book are on sale now. Be sure and check out our collection of FREE lace knitting patterns, too!


P.S. What was the most challenging thing you faced when learning to knit lace? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.

One Comment

  1. Kathy P at 6:38 pm July 29, 2017

    As a “LEFTY”, and having knitted my first sweater with a beautiful lace front, I couldn’t understand why it did look exactly like the photograph.
    After learning about RT and LT Leaning Decreases, I figured out that for my stitches to lean the way the pattern was designed, I would have to REVERSE the stitches opposite of the wording in the pattern, or exchange the symbols for K2Tog or SSK.
    As I am more or less addicted to Lace Projects, making switches have become second nature. I made the sweater I referred to about 10 years ago. I still have it, and unless another Knitter was studying it, nobody knows the leanings are backwards (except me).

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