Lion Brand Notebook

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Stitch Markers: A Lace Knitter’s Best Friend

August 3rd, 2010

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The very first thing I ever knitted besides a swatch was an oversized black lace mohair sweater. I was so incredibly proud that I was able to make these giant pieces of lacy fabric…until I went to put them together and discovered that one piece was almost twice as wide as the other piece. I had somehow managed to increase so many extra stitches that I had four extra repeats of the lace pattern going, and I had never noticed as I was working. Partly this was due to inexperience and a willingness to fudge (I was 15 and had an aversion to asking for help), but I’m sure it could have been largely avoided if I had used one simple little tool: stitch markers.

Placing a stitch marker between each repeat of a lace pattern not only helps you maintain the proper stitch count in each repeat across, but can help you quickly find where you made an error in a previous row. For instance, if you have a lace pattern with 14 8-st repeats, that’s 112 stitches to keep track of. If you place a marker between each repeat across, that’s 14 sets of 8 stitches. It’s much easier to notice and correct when one set’s missing a stitch, instead of realizing when you get stitch 109 that you’re not going to have enough stitches to finish the row (and also now your motifs are all out of whack) because a yo was missing way back in pattern repeat one or two.

Taking a couple of seconds to place a marker between each repeat as you work your first row can save you a lot of time and frustration down the road. Knitting should be relaxing and fun, not filled with the frustration of trying to located missed yarn overs or unworked decreases!

Do you like knitting lace? Tell us about what you’ve made!

[Pattern shown above: Island Shawl]

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  • http://www.restlessgrace.blogspot.com Grace

    I agree with this wise advise. Even if you are a confident knitter, it pays to put in those stitch markers (and life lines!). Learning the hard way is how you become “experienced”. :)

  • Stacey

    I am currently working on the island shawl for a friend who lives in Mexico. I have to stop and count every time. I think I will add the markers now and I am sure that will make it less cumbersome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Leslie-Blair-Gallagher/1229659726 <fb:name linked="false" useyou="false" uid="1229659726">Leslie Blair Gallagher</fb:name>

    I have done an Edith by LBY, a Multnomah, a North Sea and a Lacy Prairie by Cheryl Oberle, an Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, all involve lace stitches of various sorts and yes, stitch markers do help to keep yourself on track.

  • RoseMarie Herman

    I also made the Edith Shawl by LBY and used stitch markers. They make it so easy to keep track of stitch numbers. I also have enlarged the 8 row stitch pattern so it is easier on the eyes, and faster to locate the row I’m working on. Thanks so much for all of the Free Patterns!

  • http://figuringonknitting.blogspot.com/ Karyn

    I enjoy lace and have made many lace projects . . . two of the easy triangle shawl in homespun and Traveling Woman (reminds me of Ishbel). I’m working on two lace projects right now (Alix’s Prayer Shawl – from the Debbie Macomber Blossom Street Series and Emily from the Spring / Summer 2010 knitscene). It really pays to use lifelines and stitchmarkers. I do all the time.

  • Iris

    I am currently making the Shoreline lace shawl in Cotton Ease. After restarting it 3 times, I decided to use stitch markers.
    I also have written the instructions line by line on index cards, spelling out everything.
    Even if you are experienced, mistakes will happen.
    This is the only way to catch them before you have a disaster!

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  • Miranda.

    Hi its easy when making  a shawl but I find the problem when trying to keep the lace pattern constant after decreasing for the armholes of a sweater. Is there a solution any where that can help me please. thanks for any help given. Miranda 

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