Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Peril of Lace Knitting

As mentioned, I’ve been working on a lace cardigan lately. Lace comes with some challenges:
  • For true lace, the yarn is very fine (as in thin) which can be more difficult to work with than a substantial thick yarn
  • Lace patterns have lots of “yarn overs” and “knit X sts together” which can be hard to memorize, so the pattern must be constantly at hand
  • Checking the gauge isn’t as simple as just knitting up a swatch and getting out the ruler, since the lace must be properly blocked to determine its true measurements

As I started the cardigan I dutifully knit a swatch and blocked it and measured it. It was too small. So I pulled out a larger needle and dutifully knit a swatch and blocked it and measured it. It was too big. So I pulled out an in between sized needle and knit a swatch and blocked it and measured it and it was just right. It took a few days to get through all those blocking stages, but in the end I was happy with the result.

Here are the three swatches. I do think the middle one is just right.

Now that I’ve noted the challenges, let’s get to the peril:
  • The true peril of lace knitting is that when you drop a stich, or make another mistake in knitting, it is nearly impossible to pick that stich back up, or rip back your knitting to a point where the mistake is easily recovered from.

I discovered this last night. I had knit half of the second sleeve when I noticed I was short one stich in the row I was on. I counted my stitches, counted again, and again, and again, and I was definitely short a stitch. I could see exactly where the stitch should be, but I couldn’t see how to get that one stitch back. I tried one way and it didn’t look right. I tried a second way and it didn’t look right. I puzzled and puzzled and then I gave up. I yanked out the needle and pulled out a solid week’s worth of knitting and the second sleeve was no more.  Grrrr... so frustrating.

There is a solution to this problem. It is called a lifeline. The theory is that if you put a thread through a row of stitches you know are correct, it will hold those stitches in place and be your lifeline so that when you have to rip out your knitting to correct a mistake, you only have to go back as far as your lifeline where you will be able to easily pick up the stitches. I know that lifelines are good, as you can see with the two white lifelines that I’ve put into the body of my sweater.

But did I use a lifeline in the second sleeve?  Nooooo, I got cocky. I knit the first sleeve perfectly, so why waste time putting in a lifeline when I could easily knit the second sleeve just as perfectly. (Not)

Oh well, I’ve got many knitting hours ahead and the sweater will get done. (But not this weekend.)

I’ve been so frustrated with the lace sleeve debacle that I turned my thoughts to other random ideas and I’ve stepped over to the dark side and started this new project.

I’m not prepared to tell you what this is yet, but it starts off with some eyelash yarn (shudder!)

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