Lace Knitting: The Art of Holes

01. {KT spr 2016 p. 28 } The Fancywork Market Bag, designed by Lisa Jacobs, combines color and lace to stunning effect. Inspired by a nineteenth-century example in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Lisa created a modern tote bag from linen yarn. 02. {KT spr 2016 p. 28—closeup of red portions of bag} Make vertical columns of stitches separated by mesh with just four stitches: knit, yo, k2tog, ssk. 03. {KT spr 2016 p. 28—closeup of gold portions of bag} Eyelet motifs use similar stitches as the mesh: purl, yo, p2tog, ssp, p3tog. Here, the yarnovers get farther apart and then closer together horizontally. If they didn’t, they’d form vertical columns.

Clockwise from left: The Fancywork Market Bag, designed by Lisa Jacobs, combines color and lace to stunning effect. Inspired by a nineteenth-century example in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Lisa created a modern tote bag from linen yarn. Make vertical columns of stitches separated by mesh with just four stitches: knit, yo, k2tog, ssk. Eyelet motifs use similar stitches as the mesh: purl, yo, p2tog, ssp, p3tog. Here, the yarnovers get farther apart and then closer together horizontally. If they didn’t, they’d form vertical columns.

If you love lace, or enjoy shawl knitting patterns (along with other vintage accessory projects), or take pleasure in reading about fashion trends in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the latest issue of Knitting Traditions has all of these things and more. And if you love lace but always say, “I could never do that!”—yes, you can. This issue contains perfect first-timer projects, as well as breathtaking lace for advanced knitters.

Every form of lace (knitted, crocheted, tatted, and so on) relies on putting the holes in the right place, a phrase I borrowed from contributor Katrina King. In knitting, these holes can line up vertically in columns; they can form motifs with strong diagonal elements, such as flowers or eyelets; or they can create more elaborate motifs that combine vertical and diagonal lines. Compare the two lacy bags to see the difference. In the Fancywork Market Bag, designer Lisa Jacobs used vertical lines in the red portions to form a simple mesh, while the gold panels sport eyelets on a reverse stockinette stitch background. Her Roman Holiday Purse, although it looks so different, simply puts these elements in a different configuration.

And the best part: all these forms of lace use the same stitches you already know. There are no special lace-knitting stitches beyond typical increases or decreases. If you can k2tog, yo, and M1R or M1L, you have all the necessary tools to knit lace. Every stitch is just a variation on knit, purl, and yarnover.

In the Roman Holiday Purse, Lisa Jacobs created a more elaborate acanthus-leaf motif using (again) knit, purl, yarnover, and their variants. While this lace may look harder to make, it’s actually not. You’ll spot any mistakes immediately because they will be so obvious. The golden Strip of Paisley Wrap forms its paisley motifs by staggering yarnover stitches.

In the Roman Holiday Purse, Lisa Jacobs created a more elaborate acanthus-leaf motif using (again) knit, purl, yarnover, and their variants. While this lace may look harder to make, it’s actually not. You’ll spot any mistakes immediately because they will be so obvious. The golden Strip of Paisley Wrap forms its paisley motifs by staggering yarnover stitches.

This issue of Knitting Traditions has even simpler lace knitting patterns: try Josie Mercier’s Primavera Handkerchief and matching Primavera Stockings or Gabriella Henry’s Daisy Crescent Shawl.

Once you embrace lace in smaller projects, you’ll want to move on to bigger ones–Lana Jois’s Strip of Paisley Wrap or Carol Huebscher Rhoades’s Head in the Clouds Scarf, for example. Add bobbles and nupps to your repertoire with Katrina King’s Lilacs & Rain Shawl or Manda Shah’s Bluestocking Stole. For a lace-knitting grand finale, add beads with Manda Shah’s exquisite Strolling Round the Square Beaded Shawlette.

That’s a lot of lace to pack into one issue. Designers also got inspired by colorwork, cables, and texture patterns. Grab your copy of Knitting Traditions 2016 today and dive into the past with us!

Deborah Gerish