Lace Knitting: You Have Questions, Everyone Has Answers!

What The Front Looks Like

So, my lace-loving friends: I made a list of the more than 30 questions you asked in the comments from Monday's post. About a quarter of those were promptly addressed by your fellow commenters…which is a Very Good Thing, seeing as it would take me several weeks of posts to answer all those questions myself! And whilst some of you might be in Lace Knitting Heaven during those weeks, I know that some of you want me to get back to the bust darts, and others of you want to chat about cables, or sock toes, or intarsia. So: I'll answer as many of the questions as I can this week, and then we'll have another Lace Week every now and then to talk about the rest!

Don't forget to take our survey: What Kind of Lace Knitter Are You?

Now: On to the questions!

What does the front of the Summer Shawlette look like? It looks the same as the front of the Comfort Shawl! Same front, different backs, plus the Comfort Shawl is a bit longer, and done in merino instead of cashmere.

A not-too-scary lace chart

We want more charts! Many of you asked for charts of the lace patterns we offer on Knitting Daily. Charts are definitely on my own wishlist, so let me see what we can do. It may take a while to pull together the resources on our end, but be assured that charts are on The List.

Can you please go over reading charts? They confuse me! Charts are the maps of the lace world. To start getting used to charts, find a lace pattern in your favorite knitting magazine (Interweave Knits, right? Right!), and compare the photos of the finished lace to the charts. Notice how the shapes formed by the chart symbols look like the shapes of the stitches in the photo? Bingo! There are standard stitch symbols used by most knitting patterns, so spend some time looking at the symbol keys included with the charts and you'll soon be able to recognize yarnovers, decreases, knits, and purls. Practice reading the symbols aloud, in order, and then trying knitting along as you chant, "K2, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k2…"

Reading Charts for Lace Worked in Rows: The first stitch of a lace chart is at the bottom of the chart, at the far right side. Each box is one stitch. Right-side rows on the chart are worked from right to left. (Try saying to yourself: "Right Side Starts Right Side".) Wrong-side rows on the chart are worked from left to right. This is because when you are working back and forth in rows, you are turning the fabric around–so think of yourself "turning around and going back the other way" to work the next row of the chart. Get to the end of that row of your knitting, turn your knitting around, and on the chart, turn around and go back the OTHER way again!

Reading Charts for Lace Worked in the Round: In this case, each chart row represents a round. For knitting in the round, you read ALL of the chart rows from right-to-left (starting with the bottom row of the chart), because you are always knitting in the same direction, around and around.

How do you keep track of where you are? Over time, most knitters come up with a creative way to keep their places in their lace knitting. I use stitch markers obsessively between repeats on the needles; I use a sticky note aligned with the row I am currently working to keep my place on the chart. Some people write each row of the lace pattern on a separate index card, flipping to the next card as they complete each row. Some people use little chants to help keep the work flowing between markers, as the rhythm of the chanting helps avoid a missed step in the pattern. For example: For the first row of the lace chart shown, try: "Two, toga, YO!, one, YO!, essssKay, two!" (Get it? "toga" for "k2tog"?) Don't be afraid to make the chanting a little silly–besides increasing the fun factor, it actually helps you to remember the chant better!

What does "no stitch" mean? (I always giggle to myself at this one, because this was one of the questions the senior editors asked me in my first job interview here. Yes, of course I passed–I'm here, aren't I?) A "no-stitch" box is just a placeholder, as follows: If you decrease a stitch in Row 1, you have one less stitch in Row 2. Charts are boxy and linear, so in order to make the little boxes line up properly (and to keep the roadmap clear so you can visualize the pattern), that "lost stitch" is greyed out in Row 2. (The reverse is also true: If you increase, you will have a new stitch in Row 2 that was not there in Row 1–so Row 1 may need a grey "not-there-yet-but-will-be-soon" placeholder box.) Just skip that greyed-out little no-stitch rascal. Ignore it. "It's just there to make the chart square."

How do I fix mistakes? There is a Truly Great pictorial explanation of how to fix forgotten and dropped lace stitches (yes, including yarnovers!) in the book Lace Style–and I'm not saying that just because I work for Interweave, I really, really mean that. I couldn't do a better job of explaining how to fix lace mistakes if I tried, so I won't. Go get the book! In fact, the entire last chapter covers practical tips on lace knitting, so it's really invaluable. (Plus, the book has pretty lace thingies to knit! I cannot restrain myself from pointing out that one of the 21 projects in there has BUST DARTS: the Lace-Edged Corset by Michele Rose Orne.)

If you really want to become a mistake-fixing guru, then take a look at Lisa Kartus's Knit Fix. Pictures, graphs, photos, step-by-step…everything you need to feel like a knitting genius!

On Friday: Hot Tomato Progress, Batman! Plus Lace Survey results, and more lace knitting fun. Plus, a preview of an exquisite lace shawl pattern we thought was lost in the Piecework archives…but it's BACK (soon), exclusively for Knitting Daily members!


Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. She is now the author of the popular Knitting Daily blog: What's on Sandi's Needles.

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