Some advice please...

Well, I'm officially the newest instructor at the loopy ewe!!! Ill be teaching two classes- one on sock design and one on beginning lace. Do you fellas have any suggestions for my beginning lace class? What does a new lace knitter need to know?


AKQGuy's picture

Yarn overs. Oh, and decreases... Those help ;-)

Actually, I always discuss stitch markers with first time lace knitters. I insist on them until they get comfortable. It never fails that I have the couple students that someone told them stitch markers are for beginners and are offended that they would need them yet keep ripping back due to mistakes. I mark off borders, and pattern repeats. They may be for beginners but they are a tool that some fool made millions off when they thought, "I can make a little plastic ring and sell them at bulk for $2.00 for 15 of them!" When they get more comfortable, if they can lose them, then great. I still break them out when I have an issue with a not so obvious pattern.

Any time I introduce a new technique to my students, I discuss patience. Especially patience with oneself. I find it is something that often needs repeating especially when dealing with a bunch of OCD knitters. And just like sh!*, knit happens. Just keep knitting.

knittingman's picture

Ill confess, I consider stitch markers mandatory. I wouldn't dream of lace without them.

bobinthebul's picture

The two most helpful things I found when I started doing some lace were:

1) Memorize the pattern, or if that's too much, memorize the sequence of the row being worked, and try to recognize what the stitches are doing - the lines of YO's building up, the k2tog, ssk etc. forming borders or other elements of motifs. That way it's much easier to keep on track. And related to that,

2) If there's a purl row (and I'm guessing that since it's a beginning class there will be), to use that row as an opportunity to check work. I think lots of beginning lace knitters see that row as the "easy" row where you don't have to think about the pattern. Going through the pattern in your head as you purl back actually does two things: a) it teaches you to recognize what the different completed stitches look like and how they are forming the motifs; and b) it lets you find and correct mistakes that you might have made in the pattern row. Lots easier to pick up a missed YO then, than to try and recognize/correct it during the next patterned row!

I haven't used stitch markers myself in lace. Not out of a matter of pride; they just didn't seem necessary but I'm all for doing anything that helps people get a good mental picture of the pattern and its progression. If they decide not to use them the next time, they're not required to after all.

MMario's picture

Eunny Jang has a short seriers on lace on her website which I think is just about the best concise overview of lace out there...

that said....most people are more comfortable starting to work lace using heavier yarns - and lace doesn't require gnat-eyelash yarn and whisker thin needles!!!!!!
face cloths are great "swatch" pieces to see how a pattern works up

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

rmbm612's picture

I have knit many lace projects in the past and I always use stitch markers. throughout the project. I think the most common mistake I've made is to omit a YO while working a row. Stitch markers can save a lot of frustrating tinking to correct mistakes. I've never been happy with picking up a yarn over when doing a next row of the patterns, especially if the weight of yarn is heavy. My other suggestion is to encourage new lace knitters the benefit of using charted patterns. Written instructions are tedious to use, requiring one's attention to the instructions while knitting, especially complicated lace patterns. I like charted patterns because the chart shows at a glance the progression of the lace. My other favorite trick is to use a life line. There will come a time when mistakes in the pattern or dropped stitches will evade the knitters' eye and the work needs to be ripped. Life lines make that painful job so much easier. I also substitute ssk, for sl1k1psso, any time I can. The other modification I always use is on the ssk. I slip the first stitch as if to knit and the second slip stitch as if to purl, then knit the two together by slipping the left hand needle tip through the two slipped stitiches. I like the way the second slipped stitch hides behind the first slipped stitch. Good luck with your class.

A flexible cast-on, relaxed but uniform tension and selecting modest light-colored yarn (so one can see everything) are important lessons I've learned from the very few knitted lace projects I've done. Paper clips work well as markers. For super-lazy people like me who usually hate to block, teaching people to enjoy "reading" the surprizing effects of the y.o's and ktog's, plus the surprising ugly-duckling-to-swan effect blocking creates, compensates for the drudgery of blocking.

Tallguy's picture

I have done a lot of lace, and do find it very beautiful and satisfying, but oh-so boring! There is a lot of just plain knitting with a few holes -- artistically placed -- every now and then.

All the suggestions already made are valid. I always use stitch markers after every pattern repeat. This is rarely more than 20 stitches, I find. I have never had to rip back anything; when I get to a marker, I am also at the end of the pattern. If not, go back over those last few stitches and correct it. I can't see how anyone can knit lace without markers. Yes, I know it is possible, but it is foolhardy! I like my own hand-made yarn markers, or I have cut ring markers (not as handy to use) out of soda straws.

Use lifelines, yes, always. When you need it, you will be so very happy you did. And if not, then good for you.

I tend to do dishcloths as well for first attempts at a pattern. Use light solid colours -- variegated is not a good choice for lace.

Learn to "read your knitting" and you won't have to memorize a pattern (I never do that). It is all quite logical and usually mathematical, so it is easy to predict what the next row will be from the previous ones. Most definitely, charts are the logical choice here, since you can "see" your design immediately, and match it with your work.

Have other projects to work on at the same time, because lace can bore you out of your mind! Really -- it is lovely, but much too simple for me. It's my TV knitting.

CLABBERS's picture

I have never done lace, but congratulations on becoming an instructor! Well done!

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Congrats...all the tips are great and, concerning markers, I remind people that it is their knitting and markers can be ignored...but I don't recommend it unless they are really comfortable about it. [ Does that make sense?]

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

Potter's picture

Congratulations on becoming an instructor! That's cool.

SAPBrown's picture

Congrats on the teaching job!
Lace is new to me, nothing to offer, just soaking up the wealth of knowledge offered.