Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yes, You Can Too Knit Lace—Part 1

 It's much easier than you think to get started.
Lace work doesn't have to be hard or complex to be attractive.
Here are 2 patterns for simple laces—spread over 2 post.

Both swatches were knit in worsted weight, on a size 9/5.5 mm needle, but both of these lace works well in fine yarns, too. The first example is a lace based on garter stitch, the second example is a lace based on ribbing. Here is a side by side image—both swatches are knit over 27 stitches.

The garter stitch compacts horizontally, the ribbed lace compacts vertically—Just as garter and ribbing do,  with out lace. The garter lace swatch is actually about 10 rows longer than the ribbed lace.

Both laces are great for beginners, or for learning lace. The first lace only needs these skills:
K2tog (Knit 2 stitches together)
YO (Yarn over)

Here—is the first lace. In the swatch, I worked some rows of garter as a foundation, which is a good idea for this lace.
Cast on an Odd number of stitches. I cast on 27 for the swatch—any cast on is suitable; I used long tail. 
Right side: R1—Knit (every stitch)
R2--Purl(every stitch)
Right side: R3—Knit (every stitch)
R4—Knit (every stitch)
Right side: R5--K1, *YO, K2tog, (repeat from * across the row),
R6—Knit (every stitch)--Treat the yarn over as a stitch.

Repeat these 6 rows, as many times as desired, end with R1, R2 and R3.
After the first repeat, it won't be hard to keep track of which is right side, and which is the wrong side.

The classic name for this lace is BEADING—and it can be uses as a single row of beading—1 repeat—or several. It can be used as a border, or as an over all design.

There are many variation of Beading Lace. The number of rows of stocking knit between the BEADING can be increased, (see link/sample below) or eliminated--as in this scarf-(Rows 1, 2 and 3 are all knit)

Beading is often uses as lace on baby's and infants clothing. Narrow ribbons can be threaded through the eyelet opening—Classically, beading on a white baby sweater was threaded with pink or blue ribbon to indicate a boy or a girl.

The pattern is almost, but not quite garter (just 1 row of purl in every 6 row repeat.) It's close enough to garter that the fabric is stable (i.e., it won't curl) –but it does, (as garter does) compact (row wise)--but like garter it stretches out, too—especially on something large –like a long scarf, or when used in a blanket.

When more rows of stocking knit are added between the lace element (5 to 9 rows, instead of just 3) the fabric behaves more and more like stocking knit (and will have a tendency to curl). A side border of garter stitch (3 to 7 stitches on each side ) can be added for a neater edge, and more stability. I knit this over sized shawl  long ago (9? 10 years?) it's an example of an over all beading pattern—there are 7 rows of stocking knit between each set of beading. (It's also 3 camera's ago, and not a very clear or crisp an image!)

An excellent simple scarf could be made with this recipe:
6 rows of garter stitch,
6 to 10 repeats of the lace, (with or with out a 3 stitch garter border)+ rows 1, 2, 3 of pattern.
a center of garter, (optional!)
a matching number of rows of the lace pattern repeated,+ rows 1, 2, 3 of pattern
6 rows of garter,
and bind off.

You could use the “recipe” to design your own scarf: You decide the yarn, the color, the width,(number of stitches to cast on, and whether or not to add a garter stitch edging), the number of repeats of the lace pattern, whether or not to have the entire scarf as lace, or just to have a lace border at either end, and the over all length.
Thousand of unique designs could be made from this basic recipe.

The V shaped scarf linked to above is slightly fancier than the basic recipe, but still shows how pretty this pattern can be.
I have also knit a shawl with this basic lace pattern—my Double Delight. This version, like the swatch was knit with worsted weight yarn –but in the case of the shawl, the yarn was hand spun silk.

All of these examples serve to show, lace doesn't always have to be knit on tiny needles and with fine yarn to look beautiful. Nor does it have to be very hard to learn or to knit.  Worsted weight yarns, (the over sized shawl is made from Lion Brand Homespun—a chunky yarn!) are fine for many lace patterns.

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