Today let me introduce you to the thing that made me fall head over heels in love with knitting – Lace. I love knitting lace and I can knit it endlessly. The need for symmetry and attention to detail in lace knitting appeals to my type of personality. That is why most of the patterns I end up choosing always have some component of lace in them.
Our Project Cowl has three sections of lace – 2 sections of Zigzag Eyelet Trellis pattern and 1 section of Gull Wings pattern. I know that some of you have decided to skip these sections but my suggestion is that you still read this post till the end because it may come in handy at other places.
In knitting, lace is nothing more than a series of of increases and decreases of stitches. It is these which create the holes and the slants giving beauty to your knitted fabric. Increases and decreases are used not just in lace but also when you’re knitting sweaters, shawls or shaping any other garments. Even though there are many types of increases and decreases, I am going to tell you today about the ones that we are using in our Project Cowl.
Yarn Over (YO)
This is the simplest and the most commonly used increase in lace. To make a Yarn Over, you just pick up the yarn attached to the ball and loop it around your right needle counterclockwise. One new stitch has been created and this is the Yarn Over increase. Have a look
There are times when you may be asked to do a double Yarn Over, which means you loop the yarn around your needle two times counterclockwise, which gives you two extra stitches. Mind you, it will be very rare that you will be asked to do more than two Yarn Overs simultaneously.
A Yarn Over is a special type of increase inasmuch as it not only increases a stitch but it also creates a hole where it is placed. The way this happens is that when you knit/purl the wrong side of a Yarn Over, it leaves a gap between alternate rows, which is the hole that you end up seeing. If you do a double Yarn Over, the gap will obviously be bigger.
Please always REMEMBER – Yarn Over is not your standard increase and ought not to be used when you are trying to shape a garment because you will end up getting holes in inappropriate places.
Knit Two Together (K2Tog)
Just like Yarn Over above, this is the simplest and most common type of decrease in lace. This involves knitting two stitches together in the same manner as you would knit one stitch. This immediately converts two stitches into one stitch. Have a look
The advantage of this decrease is that it is a right leaning decrease which means that the resulting stitch will slant towards the right. When K2Tog stitches are stacked on top of each other, they create a neat right leaning slant just like the one in our cowl.
Slip Slip Knit (SSK)
This is the second most common decrease in lace and contrary to K2 Tog, SSK creates a left leaning stitch. The way to do SSK is that you slip two stitches off your left needle on to your right needle one-by-one (REMEMBER not together but one at a time) knit wise. After that insert your left needle in front of the 2 slipped stitches on your right needle, loop your yarn around the right needle and knit that stitch. Have a look
When SSK stitches are stacked on top of each other, they create a neat left leaning slant just like the one in our cowl.
Zigzag Eyelet Trellis pattern
Let’s have a look at our first lace panel now. The chart is below
Round 1 – *K1, YO, K2Tog repeat from * around – requires you to knit the first stitch, do a yarn over and then knit the next two stitches together. What this means is that you are increasing and decreasing together so you will end up with the same number of stitches you started with. The round has the pattern between two asterisks, which means that whatever is within the asterisks has to be repeated till the end of the round. So keep doing these 3 stitches all the way around till you finish Round 1 .
Round 2 is a simple knit round which means all stitches will have to be knit. While knitting Yarn Overs, be careful that you don’t unravel them by mistake. Once you knit a Yarn Over, you will find a hole has been created.
Rounds 3-6 require you to repeat Rounds 1-2, so go ahead and do that.
I have done the 6 rounds on a smaller swatch just to demonstrate. This is how your first lace section should look once you’re through with your first six rows. Note that since we have used the K2Tog decrease, the slant is towards the right.
Round 7 – *K1, SSK, YO repeat from * around – requires you to knit the first stitch, do a SSK (as I have demonstrated above) and then do a yarn over. Again you are increasing and decreasing together to maintain the number of stitches. Since the pattern is within two asterisks, you have to keep repeating these 3 stitches all the way around till you finish Round 7.
Round 8 is a simple knit round where all stitches will be knit.
Round 9-10 require you to repeat Round 7-8 and Round 11 is a repeat of Round 7.
My swatch looks like this once I’m done with all 11 rounds. Note the right and left leaning slants created by K2Tog and SSK stitches respectively.
This is how you do the Zigzag Eyelet Trellis Pattern. Once you’re done with Round 11 of this section, you will knit the First divider section which is 5 rounds of alternate purl and knit rounds.
After the First divider section, we will move on to the next lace panel.
Gull Wings Pattern
This is the bigger of the two lace sections and more complicated so it will require more of your attention. The chart is below
Rounds 1-2 are simple knit rounds, so go ahead and knit those.
Round 3 – *K1, K2Tog, YO, K1, YO, SSK, K1 repeat from * around – requires you to knit the first stitch, knit the next 2 stitches together, do a yarn over, knit the next stitch, do a yarn over, do a SSK and then knit the next stitch. Again you are increasing and decreasing together to maintain the number of stitches. Since the pattern is within two asterisks, you have to keep repeating these 7 stitches all the way around till you finish this round.
Round 4 is a simple knit round.
Round 5 – *K2Tog, YO, K3, YO, SSK repeat from * around – requires you to knit the next 2 stitches together, do a yarn over, knit the next three stitches one at a time, do a yarn over, and then do a SSK. Again you are increasing and decreasing together to maintain the number of stitches. Since the pattern is within two asterisks, you have to keep repeating these 7 stitches all the way around till you finish this round.
Rounds 6-17 require you to repeat Round 2-5 (4 rounds) three more times, which you will do in exactly the same way as above.
Round 18-19 are simple knit rounds so please go ahead and complete those.
My swatch after completing the 19 rounds looks like this
Once you’re done with your Gull Wings Pattern, you can knit the Second Divider Section, which is again five rounds of alternate purl and knit stitches. Finish the second Zigzag Eyelet Trellis pattern same as I have explained above.
At the very end, you need to knit your second garter stitch border to finish your cowl. Go ahead and finish all these sections. We will now meet at bind off, i.e. after you have completed your second garter stitch border.
Placing a Lifeline
I have one parting tip for you. While knitting lace, there is a very high possibility of making a mistake. You might miss a Yarn Over or forget to do a K2Tog/SSK. Unfortunately, in lace all these mistakes look very prominent taking away from the symmetry of the lace pattern. The only option left then is to rip out all your hard work, which can be quite heartbreaking.
So what I usually do is that I use something called a Lifeline. A Lifeline is nothing but a piece of waste/scrap yarn that I insert in my knitting to ensure that if I make a mistake and I have to rip out my work, I need not rip till the very beginning. Just take a tapestry needle and some waste yarn (preferably of a different colour) and weave it through the stitches on your needle, making sure you don’t miss any stitch. Proceed with your knitting as normal making sure your waste yarn doesn’t get entangled with your stitches as you knit along. Have a look
I usually remove and re-insert my Lifeline at regular intervals as I go along especially when I’m knitting lace. I know it sounds tedious, but it takes very little time and saves a lot of agony. And as someone wise and I (even wiser) always say
A stitch in time saves nine.Anonymous
I hope you enjoy knitting lace as much as I do. Ciao!