Things I’ve learned about lace knitting

(Swatches for 4 shawls I want to knit. Right now.)

  • Swatching lace patterns is fun and addicting, and I like fussing with them to get the effect I want. Combine, alter, chart, swatch, refine, repeat.
  • Swatching in practice yarn is way better than repeatedly frogging and reknitting your “real” yarn. I switched to some light worsted yarn I had on hand. (White swatches in the picture.)
  • Swatching lace with heavier yarn will tell you a lot, but not everything. Swatching with leftover sock yarn is better, if fingering weight yarn is your goal. I wised up and bought a 50g skein of Louet Gems for swatching, because I needed a light color for a design submission. It’s the green ball in the picture, and it’s lovely to work with. I may have to get some more, to knit for reals.
  • Beads add lovely weight, drape, and bling to lace. I’m hooked (hah!) on the crochet hook method of adding beads.
  • Blocking is magic. (We already knew that, but it’s been reaffirmed, and can’t be said enough.)
  • An old black velvet dress makes a great background for a pale lace swatch photo. (No pic, it’s for a design submission.)
  • This elastic bind off is way better than the usual chain bind off, for lace that is going to be blocked: K2, * slip left needle into fronts of the 2 worked stitches on right needle and knit them off together through the back loop (like an ssk), K1, repeat from *.
  • And last of all: I’m a little obsessive.

PS: I blame Sivia Harding for this trip down the lace rabbit hole. I took her workshop last Sunday, and can’t stop playing with ideas. You can take her class at Twisted next Saturday, March 30. It’s from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about possible obsession!

9 responses to “Things I’ve learned about lace knitting

  1. I know the green yarn is just for swatching, but it is very pretty.

    • It’s prettier than I realized, and I think I’m going to get some more for shawl #3 of this swatching binge. It’s not expensive, $10 for 50g, so it will either be a $20 or $30 shawl, depending on how much I love it. The celery green tube beads I swatched with it are perfect with it, so there’s that, too.

  2. Franklin Habit has put some edgings on his blog. I may use one in the next swatch. He wrote out the pattern though. I’ll have to chart it. Now that I switched over, non-charted instructions drive me nuts!

    • You’ve come to the dark side! I love charts, too.

      I think some of the edgings that he’s posted may have the straight edge (attaching edge) on the left instead of the right. Not sure, I’d have to chart it! But that would mean you’d have to turn everything around. I’ll have to look closer…

  3. I’ve never actually swatched for a lace shawl I’ve made (all of two). Of course I wasn’t designing them either. But I love the idea of buying a spare ball of sock yarn for swatching. This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” ideas, since I’m a big proponent of test-swatching in many other circumstances (trying out a new technique with spare yarn before diving in on your project).

    • I have to admit that I don’t swatch for lace shawls that someone else has designed, either; I figure I’m close enough to gauge, and it all blocks out. And we all know that gauge swatches lie, anyway. It’s only important to me if I think I’m going to be really close on yardage.

      But lace swatching is so different from gauge swatching. I’m just playing with lace patterns and ideas. Fun! And the 50g skein for swatching is great; it’s just $10.

      Knit on!

  4. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at lace knitting and I think you have convinced me to get on it! Great work!

  5. I’m working on a lace shawl right now. Every once in a while I mess up and the numbers don’t work out. Then I have to frog back a row to see what I missed. It’s usually a yo that I’ve forgotten to purl. Fortunately, I’m working with worsted weight on size 10 needles, so it’s not too rough working back.