Tips & Tricks: Life Lines
May 25, 2010
When one starts to knit there are certain rites of passage that are necessary to complete. It is not that they must be completed in order to be a great knitter, it is just that most knitters do complete them whether or not they mean to. A mistake in lace knitting is up toward the top and also the most frustrating.
When a knitter is ready to start knitting lace, they dream of flow-y shawls, delicate patterns and a true sense of accomplishment. However, once they cast-on they are met with counting errors, dropped stitches, and "what row was I on again" for the hundredth time. It happens to the best of us; a little help is needed. Life Lines are one of the few true to their name. When you are waist deep in your sister's wedding shawl or 3 weeks committed to a new sweater pattern that cost you $86.27 in yarn than you want a life line. A life line is a piece of yarn woven through your lace knitting that should you make a mistake, you can unravel back to your life line and put your stitches back on your needle and pick back up. You will not need to frog all the way back to the beginning or guess which row you are on. It is the net for a tight rope walker. And guess what... It is simple. Here are the steps
Step 1) Obtain some waste yarn in a contrasting color to the yarn you are knitting with (so it will be easy to see. The same reason life vests are Bright Orange!) Make sure it is at least twice the length of your knitted project. You want slack so it won't pull out if you sit on it, your baby pulls on it or the cat thinks it is the most fun toy-EVER.
Step 2) Thread it through your tapestry needle.
Step 3) Thread it through the loops on your needle- just right through. I like to do this on row one of my lace repeat and then move it up when I get back to row 1. However, if you lace repeat is 12 or more rows you may want to do it more often. If that is the case, do it when you stitch count returns to the original stitch count (some increase and decrease as you go along) or the row after a YO. It is easier to pick up a knitted YO than a YO.
Step 4) Continue knitting but do not knit the life line, push it out of the way if needed. It should go straight through your knitting. Move it up every once in a while and only move it when you are sure you won't need it. Sometimes it is safer to have 2 life lines, if you are a real worrier.
My discovery of life lines made it fun to knit lace where it was too stressful before. It really helps if I can't interpret a pattern and want to risk just guessing. I can also put my work down and pick it up at a later date and know where I am. It has opened up a new door for me and I hope you as well.
The stitch pattern is Travelling Vine from A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker, knitted with size 8 needles and a sport weight yarn.
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