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Easy Stitches and Techniques to Get Started with Lace Knitting

Lace knitting is an art – and when done well it turns the knitter into a fiber artist. For new knitters, the art may seem mysterious. The good news is it is not as complicated as it looks. In this blog, we will look at lace knitting stitches and techniques. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can start with a simple pattern or even design one.

Lace patterns require knitting needles, preferably sharp stainless steel, and the appropriate yarn. It also requires some techniques that are different from usual knitting. Whether you use straight knitting needles or circular knitting needles doesn’t matter – either will work but it's best to stitch to the size recommended on the pattern.  

Sharp stainless steel knitting needles for lace knitting

When it comes to yarn, it pays to use high-quality yarn. Soft, supple yarns - like lightweight merino – make for beautiful and striking lace items. Cashmere is the ultimate in luxury, as is silk. You can start practicing your lace knitting with sock-weight yarn before moving on to the finer lace-weight yarn.

Lace Knitting

Lace knitting stitches

There are only a few extra maneuvers involving the normal knit and purl stitches that one needs to know. These include various increases and decreases with your favorite pair of lace knitting needles.

1. The yo knitting stitch

The well-placed holes are what define and identify lace knitting. They are easily made with a technique known as a yarn over (YO). This maneuver creates an extra loop of yarn around your needle, which you work into on the repeat row, or round as if it were just another stitch. It’s an increase, in effect, because you created a new stitch that wasn’t there before and that stitch adds to your stitch count. Since it’s a new stitch and there was no pre-existing stitch under it, a YO creates a hole in the fabric.

In lace patterns, you will find a number of different terms used for yarnovers. There is ‘yarn forward’ (yf) or ‘yarn round needle’ (yrn) - these generally mean the same thing. These stitches describe the different ways of creating a yarn over if you’re working between two purl stitches or between a knit and a purl. Between two purl stitches, wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle front to back so it ends up in the purl position again. It’s well worth practicing both variations.

Lace knitting pattern

2. K2tog yo

A classic pairing in lace knitting patterns, the ‘k2tog, yo’ or  ‘yo k2tog’ is a – the knit two together is a simple knitting decrease positioned next to yarn over. The stitch count will remain constant, so you won’t get any shaping in your knitting using this combination. This is perfect for a straight piece of fabric such as a scarf.

This stitch or rather technique often forms part of a larger lace pattern. But, it can be used on its own and is also a great way to create simple eyelets in a piece of stocking stitch fabric. In this case, the k2tog decrease will appear almost invisible next to the hole created by the yarn over, so all you’ll see is a small, stable hole in the knitting. This combination is a basic component of lace knitting, that can also be used to make buttonholes.

3. Ssk

The ssk (or slip, slip, knit) is a mirror image of k2tog. It is rather a counter-intuitive name because it is not really as it seems. This stitch is more than just slipping and knitting, in fact, it is decreasing a stitch in the patterns. The trick is to remember to slip each stitch from the front and in the order that they are positioned on your needle. 

4. Sl1, k2tog, psso

The Sl1, k2tog, psso  slip 1 stitch, knit the next 2 together, pass the slipped stitch over the stitches that were knitted together) – this is a “double” left-leaning decrease and is also used very often in knitted lace.

Although these may seem like very complicated stitches, you’ll soon see that they become second nature with some practice! To make it easy to knit lace patterns, add a lifeline in a contrasting color to your projects every few rows or after every lace pattern repeats. These lifelines are threaded through the stitches and not knitted as part of a row, making them very easy to see and remove after your project is completed.

Best Lace Knitting Pattern

The Mindful Collection offers knitting needles that are ideal for lace pattern work. The stainless steel tips are finely shaped and smooth and work well with all yarns.  You may find it wise to invest in an interchangeable needle set since it provides you with a selection of cable lengths. This enables you to increase or decrease the circular needle length to accommodate the changing widths of your project.  This is exceptionally helpful when working on shawls or projects that vary in width.  The Interchangeable circular needles also offer a lifeline hole that allows you to keep track of different patterns and the number of rows completed.   

So, wait no more! Get started with lace knitting with the right knitting needles and yarn.

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stainless steel knitting needles, mindful knitting,