Making Knitted Lace a Little Easier

I'm always surprised that more people haven't come across these techniques when knitting. I thought a tutorial on how I use them might be handy as I spend a lot of time telling people how to do them in the shop. This tutorial takes you through all the things I do to make lace knitting easier but feel free to use the techniques in any sort of knitting project. I'm using a pattern I've designed called Kelp Poncho,  knitted in Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace, which will be available to download later in the year. 

Tools I use:
Stitch markers,  I'm using 1 set of simple rings and 1 set of beaded rings
Hiya Hiya interchangeable circular needles, I use these as they have a handy hole to thread your life line through. 
Cotton perle 5 weight as my life line
Knitting App on my smart phone,  downloaded from the App Store

If you don't have those tools
Stitch markers,  you can use loops of thread or small rubber bands. I don't recommend using safety pins as they can get caught in your stitches.
Your favourite good quality needles knitting needles and a yarn needle for threading your life line in.
Smooth yarn or strong thread
Pencil and paper.

The yellow thread is my life line which is holding the stitches in case I go wrong and have to rip my work back. The thread means that the stitches can't drop back further. It works like a spare needle holding the row in place.

I thread my cotton perle through the small hole in the metal part of the cord, leaving a shortish tail. Then I can knit as normal and the life line pulls along my row without much effort.

The life line lies along the line of your cord (or needles)

This is the life line through a whole row of my work.
Make sure to take the thread out from the needle before your start your next row. Just let it dangle either end, it won't go anywhere as long as you have a reasonable length either end. 
If you are using aren't using Hiya Hiya needles or your needles don't have a handy hole you will need to knit the line you want to save and then thread the life line through afterwards using a yarn needle. I would thread through the stitch markers as well, so they mark your pattern repeats if you need to pull your work back.
If you go wrong you simply take the needles out of your stitches and rip your work back to the life line.....
.....then insert the needles back in your stitches again, along the line of the life line. Your stitch markers will still be in place as you've pulled the life line through them when you knitted or threaded your life line in.

When you knit your next line you need to drop the original stitch marker so it hangs from the life line....
and insert a new one on the needles. 

Your new stitch markers will mark your place as normal and you will slip them from needle to needle when you reach them. The stitch markers hanging from your life line will come off when you move the life line from one section to the next. I move my life line ever pattern repeat or every 10 rows, depending on how complicated the work is and how often I'm likely to need to unpick my work. I simply hold one edge of my work and carefully pull the line out, ready to knit into the next row. At that point the stitch markers come loose.

When you knit along your next line you may find that your life line is wrapped over the needles. Just move it to the back and knit on as normal..... this.

The other thing I do to make life easier is to keep track of my work row by row and pattern repeat by pattern repeat. I use a knitting App on my smart phone. This was free to download from the App store and keeps multiple projects for me. It keeps track of the row I'm on and the pattern repeat so I know that as of this photo being taken I'm about to knit row 1 of the forth pattern repeat.

I also count how many stitches I have between stitch markers as I'm working. Then I can see if I've gone wrong and on which section without having to reach the end of the row. At that point I can decide if I need to unpick the stitches in that section or if I have to rip my work back to my life line.

There are lots of ways to fix your work, but that's another tutorial in the future.

If you don't have a smart phone a good old fashioned piece of paper works too. I mark off the pattern repeats and rows so I can easily see what repeat I'm on.

And this photo is what it's taking shape to be, along with my fabulous Hiya Hiya project bag and the wonderful coaster that Kay gave me for Christmas.


  1. Oh, what a terrific idea the lifeline is! I find it so difficult to pick up the stitches after pulling back a few rows of lace that it puts me off knitting it. I shall definitely be using a lifeline in future!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Lyra Hat, for people with a BAHA hearing aid.

No Sew Mitred Square Blanket and the point of knitting!

Crochet cord How To