This month, I’ve been working flat out on a 1 ply lace shawl (using beautiful 1 ply cobweb lace yarn from Jamieson & Smith, very similar to the 1 Ply Cobweb Weight), so I thought I’d share some of my top tips for lace knitting on the blog.
When working with fine yarns, knitting needles with sharp points will be much easier to insert into the delicate stitches. I started out with KnitPro Zings, but have switched to Karbonz as they have a pointier tip. While there is a join between the metal tips and the carbon fibre shaft of these needles, I’ve not had any issues with the yarn snagging or getting caught. If you think that could be a problem for you, the Zings might be a better option. I’ve avoided wooden needles as they tend to be a bit blunter and can wear down slightly over time. With yarn that’s 4 ply weight or heavier, that wouldn’t be a problem, but with these tiny stitches I wanted the smoothest, most slippery needles I could get.
Stitch markers (specifically the Clover Locking Stitch Markers) have been invaluable. By placing a marker between each repeat across the row, they act as a handy checkpoint for making sure that everything is coming out right. If I get to a marker one stitch too early or too late, I can isolate the problem to that section within the row, which makes troubleshooting a lot easier! The locking markers are more useful than the closed ring ones as they can be unclipped and repositioned if I merrily knit right over them, and there is no risk of them working themselves loose and making a bid for freedom (as has been known to happen with split ring markers…).
Finding the right tension for lacework has taken a little bit of practice. My initial feeling was that I wanted to keep it loose so that I didn’t risk snapping the ultra fine yarn. I also wanted to maintain an even look to my knitting, avoiding big sloppy stitches. I’ve settled on a tension I feel happy with and I find that after a row or so, I can really pick up the pace and get a good rhythm going. It’s a little looser than I would normally knit (which makes p3tog or p2togtbl a LOT easier), but not so loose that I have to knit in slow motion to achieve it.
Finally, please do take the time to block/dress your lacework after you’ve cast it off! It will make your knitting lie beautifully flat, and will open up all the lacework to show off your knitting at its best.