Things that I learned by choosing a freaking lace wedding shawl as my second major project:

1. Lace work is not bad on a huge circular needle.

2. Don’t show anyone your lace until you have blocked it. They will think you didn’t ball-roll a skein correctly or you are knitting a handbag. It looks like crap until blocked.

3. Repeats can be nasty if you don’t understand just how many the author really wants you to do.

4. Knitting charts are pretty awesome and easier for me to read than k2tog, k1, pssoldjmsnsh, sskldotmsk1,etc.

5. You can begin to memorize the repeat so that you don’t have to keep looking at the chart.

6. You can be fooled into thinking that you have the repeat memorized.

7. Yarn overs (I call them mouse-overs in my head, since I’m a tech nerd), are the easiest to miss, but the easiest to fix on the purl side.

8. Nupps are the worst thing ever invented. They can easily be replaced with beads.

9. Beads are actually pretty easy if you have the correct size crochet needle and beads.

10. Beads can save your butt if you forget to put needle caps on your needles and end up dropping 4 rows of stitches while your knitting sloshes around in your bag. (this happened last night. I almost scrapped the entire project, but realized the drops were stopped by the beads, and I was able to pick them back up.)

11. Lifelines of dental floss are essential. Unfortunately, I haven’t implemented this yet.

12. STITCH MARKERS ON REPEATS!!!! I don’t think it would be possible without them.

13. Count every stitch and every repeat as many times as possible. When you knit the repeat, after you knit the repeat, before you purl the repeat, and after you purl the repeat. You will be glad you did.

14. Lace work sucks if you can’t count.

15. NEVER choose a lace wedding shawl as your second knitting project, no matter how well-intentioned.

Actually, this piece has been a frustrating experience, but I have learned soooo much from it. I am excited to finish it and move on to another challenging project.

Happy knitting, crocheting, drawing, quilting, needle-pointing, painting, or however you choose to create with your hands!!!


cacunn's picture

Pictures please.

YarnGuy716's picture

The funny thing about lace, once it's blocked most people won't be able to see what you consider glaring errors. The old lace knitters say, "can a blind man on a prancing pony see it?" Looking forward to seeing pictures.

Bill's picture

Very entertaining!
Welcome to our great knitting family...

MMario's picture

And even though I m half-afraid to ask; what pattern?

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Britannic's picture

Welcome aboard! Great list. Admire your bravery in attempting a lace shawl as your second project. It's a much healthier addiction than smoking and/or alcohol, so good luck with giving up the old vices for good and sticking with the new!!! (I've caught myself calling yarn overs mouse overs in my head too as I do a lot of HTML work! lol)

Look forward to seeing the pictures of the completed work as well. Which pattern are you knitting? And, out of curiosity, why did you choose it?

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Welcome to our great community. Loved your list and found so many true points to it.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

akkamaddi's picture

For #8, someone here pointed out you can slip half the loops in the nupp, knit it, then pass the slipped clump back over the stitch. I haven't tried it, but the general reaction was positive.

As for #11, this is the only reason I'm still knitting. I have a bad habit of just zoning out and knitting straight across or doing something I can't even recognize. As for lifelines: For heavier yarn / larger needles, raw hemp cord is awesome. It's rough enough that it won't slide around and get pulled out. For finer yarn, heavier (stronger) repair / button thread is very good. I have some suture thread that I got from a military surplus store, and it's durable enough that I have a wad of lifelines to re-use. If you use floss, obviously make sure it's not waxed, and make sure it's not ribbon (wide and flat, as opposed to thread). The ribbon can slice fine thread when you pull it out.

A thread lifeline can be frobbed to one side while you're working then next few rows, and can be worked out of your project. The slick nylon in dental floss is very bad about doing this. Button thread has a coarser surface and so is not moved as easily. Otherwise, on the first and second row above a lifeline, re-center the lifeline. If you use thin surplus yarn as a lifeline, use a close color so it doesn't leave a streak of lint when you pull it out.

If you are doing fine lace, and it will sit for a while, a lifeline can leave a crease in the thread. Pulling the lifeline with a crochet hook (or pulling the work sideways) to loosen the lifeline helps.

Also, *two* lifelines. Minimum. Leap-frog them. The yarn gremlins sense when a lifeline is pulled, and that is when they attack.

Lastly, never assume "oh, this is just garter". Use one every 20-30 rows. I attempted a scarf, got a good ways in, and pulled a lifeline to fix a mistake beneath it. When I turned to get a crochet hook, the working yarn snagged on my belt buckle. The knob of the needle in the work (a straight) caught on the wrist rest of my keyboard as it went sliding off my desk. So, no needle, no lifeline, a couple stitches dropped for a repair, and of course the thing bounced when it hit the floor. (I watched it. It went in slow motion, just to torment me. One of the yarn gremlins even started singing "O Fortuna", just to rub it in.)

As for using lifelines, they will get "pulled under" for stitches with more pull (k2tog and such). You want a small crochet hook with your lifeline. If you know anyone who tints their hair, the aluminum crochet hooks that come with L'Oreal hair frosting kits are perfect. I've even given two away at my LYS, and put one in the "odds and ends" drawer there.


Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Mercerized cotton crochet thread also works great for lifelines. I carry a couple of yards in a butterfly hank in my little knitting tool bag at all times. It also works great as a stitch holder when saving stitches for sleeves, etc.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

superi's picture

congratualations on getting your first lace project done. But watch out lace can be addicting, though it does get easier as you go along.


scottly's picture

2, 4 and 12 are essential to my lace making. Lace looks like road kill until its been blocked, I don't know how one would knit lace wihtout charts and I'm sure it makes me look like a rank amature but I always use markers on repeats so when I purl back I can count each repeat to make sure I haven't missed a yo or a decrease. I'm a really fast tinker so I just find life lines a bother but if I wasn't able to tink as fast as I knit I would be using them as well.