Lace knitting

Alice Merlino writes a popular craft blog at futuregirl where she mainly talks about her crochet and knitting projects.  Her site features several free patterns and many detailed tutorials.

My First Knitted Lace Project
In the year since I’ve learned how to knit, I’ve been going through all the different techniques and doing little projects to practice them … stripes, cables, ribbing, intarsia, and, now, lace.  Whenever I decide to try something new, my heart tries to get me to think way too big.

When I decided to try out knitted lace, my heart whispered that I should make (and put into my ravelry queue) an intricately patterned cardigan made from lace-weight alpaca.  Thank goodness for my head because it knows that a first lace project of that magnitude would end up being more unraveling than knitting.My head is practical and knows a small project is best for practicing a new craft technique.  I spent about a week looking for a lace chart that looked good and could be used for a scarf, which is a manageable project.  I swatched every pattern until I found until I settled on one that looked good with the yarn I’d picked out.

Swatches are the ultimate small project.  Well, I guess you can’t call them a project unless you make them wash cloth size and you keep them to use.  I normally unravel them to use the yarn on the actual project.  Swatching taught me a lot about how the yarn thickness and needle size effects the look of a lace pattern.I settled on the Tiger Eyes lace pattern because it looks wonderful in the sport-weight Patons Grace I had in my stash.  The shiny yarn highlights the intricate patterned lace.  And, truth be told, I was totally dazzled by the photos of scarves made from this pattern.

I also liked the pattern because, although it is detailed and the repeat is 16 rows tall, it’s only 31 stitches to cast on.  And because of my liberal use of lifelines, I haven’t had to frog too many rows of lace as I’ve practiced making yo, k2tog, sl k2tog psso, k3tog, ssk and mistakes. I’ve become an expert at recognizing and picking up a dropped yo.

I’ve been reading Elizabeth Zimmerman’s book Knitting Without Tears.  That’s where I got the idea for using the stitch markers in the middle of my lace pattern.  The two red rings on the outside remind me to do the garter stitch edge.  The ones in the middle give me a place to make sure I’m following the pattern correctly and my stitches are lining up with the pattern below.  I started out with two more markers, but as I’ve become more comfortable with the pattern, I took them out.
The best balance for me, when I want to conquer something new in the crafty realm, is to pick a small project with a big wow-factor.  That way I get the practice I need to absorb the new technique or skill *and* I have a project that I enjoy making and want to keep afterwards.