Knitting’s Best Kept Secret

Originally published  Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I love to knit lace. Seeing a jumbled mass of tangled yarn transformed into a beautiful work of art with the help of a little water and a lot of pins or some string is an amazing feeling.


becomes this.

Spanish Armada by MMario

And this

becomes this.

Lacy Baby Shawl by Sharon Miller

People look at a knitted lace shawl and think, Oh, that must be so difficult to do. Knitters who have never tried lace knitting look at a knitted lace shawl and say, Oh, I could never do that.

Well, here’s knitting’s best kept secret. For the most part, knitting lace patterns isn’t difficult at all. Most lace patterns are made up of knits, purls, yarnovers, single decreases, and double decreases. If you can knit and purl, you can knit lace patterns.

Don’t get me wrong. Some lace patterns are challenging and require great concentration and effort. For example, the frost flowers pattern

Frost Flowers and Leaves by Eugen Beugler

requires a lot of concentration on the rows/rounds that transition from the open work to the solid because the stitches no longer line up in an easily recognizable pattern. But the rest of the time the pattern is quite simple to knit.

Sometimes simple patterns seem more difficult than they really are because of the construction of the shawl or other item in which they are used. But in the grand scheme of things, knitting a lace scarf or shawl isn’t difficult at all. It just takes a little practice, a lot of stitch markers, and some counting. Once you learn how to “read” your knitting, lace is really very simple.

Starting with an easy-to-memorize, easy-to-read pattern such as Old Shell/Old Shale/Feather and Fan can make learning to knit lace patterns much easier. And don’t be fooled by the simplicity of knit, purl, yarnover, and knit 2 together. Simple patterns can look absolutely spectacular.

Old Shell

I currently have only one active lace project, my Orkney Pi Shawl. It is nearly finished, but I ran out of yarn. I ordered more yarn, and it arrived today, so this evening I will get back to the Orkney Pi and perhaps get her finished by the end of the week. Then I can do the happy dance.



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