Lace knitting is absolutely beautiful. Lace pieces look so intricate and detailed, but surprisingly, lace knitting is fairly easy to do. It is possibly the finest form of knitting. Knit lace is a wonderful fabric to work with, and even the simplest of patterns look impressive.
Just like with other knitting, you need a trusty pattern and the right equipment to get started.
Which Needles Are Best for Lace Knitting?
There are a couple of options to choose from when it comes to the right needles for lace knitting. The choice you make will depend on your lace, the pattern and how you want to work your piece. First, you need to decide if you want to work with straight needles or circular needles.
Many people choose to use straight needles out of habit. They are what most of us learned to knit on, so we tend to stay loyal. You can also choose to use double point straight needles, which allow you a few more options and leeway when knitting.
Circular needles are a popular choice when lace knitting. As the yarn is so small and depending on the pattern you are using, there might be a large number of stitches. It is much easier to use circular needles for patterns that use a large number of stitches. The stitches won’t be able to drop off the needles and you will have more room to work.
Interchangeable sets are really quite wonderful. The set consists of short needle tips that resemble the tips of circular knitting needles. The set can be used for both straight and circular knitting. While this choice is a little more expensive than regular needles, it is really handy to have as you have many different options on needle size and length, all in this little pack.
Best Needle Size for Lace
Close attention needs to be paid to the size of the needles you are using. Many suggest that you use a larger needle than you usually would for lace knit. When using lace, sport or fingering weighted yarn, the best size needle would be 4mm (US 6).
Otherwise, use the recommended size on the pattern, or up to three times the size recommended on the lace label.
The material of the needle isn’t really that important when it comes to lace knitting. It is mainly up to preference, but it is worthwhile knowing the different types of material, just in case you are looking to try out something new.
Bamboo – Bamboo is extremely lightweight and comfortable to use. Bamboo is now being recommended for beginners as it easily fits all sizes and types of yarn. The surface of bamboo needles are slightly rough with a smooth finish, but this allows for knitters to slowly and precisely form stitches.
You can buy traditional wood needles, but they aren’t as readily available, and affordable, as bamboo needles. Bamboo needles are also wonderfully eco-friendly!
Metal – Metal is the most commonly used material needle. It is heavy but durable and reliable. The metal can either be nickel or aluminum.
Nickle needles are not as easily found, but they are lighter and smoother than their aluminum counterparts. However, aluminum needles are very smooth and easy to work with, allowing you to knit quickly with little resistance.
Plastic – Plastic is the lightest and least expensive of all the different needles. They are great for beginners. Plastic needles are flexible and work well with all types of yarn and yarn weights.
They are considered the best choice when it comes to creating larger stitches and larger items. Plastic needles are recommended for knitting projects such as shredded plastic knitting.
The Best Yarn for Lace Knitting
Simply enough, lace yarn is the perfect yarn for lace knitting. Lace yarn is lightweight but still warm when used for winter accessories and garments. Using lace knit, you usually get around 8+ stitches per inch.
If you are wanting to create a fingering weight yarn, hold two pieces or lace yarn together.
You can opt to use the slightly larger fingering yarn, which is still light. It is a little more durable to work with but might not have that fine elegance that proper lace yarn does.
Tips for Lace Knitting
So, you want to try out some lace knitting or gather up a few more tips to continue. Here are some basic tips to help make lace knitting a little easier:
• Use pointed needles – Sharper needles make knitting much easier, especially when knitting finer yarns like lace. Blunt edge needles won’t be able to pick up stitches as easily and might damage the wool if it doesn’t pick it up properly.
• Abbreviations – Make sure you know your abbreviations and legends really well when using a chart. A chart has a symbol for everything, make sure you can tell the different symbols apart. Be sure to study the abbreviations beforehand so you don’t end up doing the wrong stitches.
• Keep your place – Losing your place on a lace knit yarn can be a nightmare. Keep track with post-it notes, magnet chart keepers or even washi tape. As a backup, you can even use a row counter. These will be needed more for complicated patterns, but you can use them for simpler patterns just to be sure and confident in your knitting.
• Color code charts – If you are tackling a really complicated pattern, it is a really good idea to color code your chart. Highlight different crosses and anything that will help you remember and be aware of different stitches coming up and when to change.
• Lighting – Always knit in good lighting. You need to be able to see the stitches you are counting. Try and also use needles which are a different color to the yarn you are using.
• Stitch Markers – Most lace patterns are a repeat of specific amounts of stitches. More often than not, a pattern will tell you when and where to place stitch markers. If it doesn’t, try and take the initiative to do so yourself. It will really help in the long run.
• Lifeline – This is probably one of the best tips around. Lace knitting is can be complicated, with so many small stitches. It can be really easy to drop a stitch. To avoid having to unravel your whole piece, place lifelines every ten rows or so. Lifelines are smooth strings of yarn or floss that are thread through rows. These save the rows from dropping if any stitches above happen to drop. You will really thank yourself for this!
• Choose the right yarn – If you battle to see your stitches when knitting, it is a really good idea to stay away from darker yarns or yarns that make it difficult to see the difference between different stitches. This will just become highly frustrating for you and will probably end in you not having stitched the right way, or having dropped a couple of stitches.
• Spend your time learning – Look up every term you need to and try to learn as many different stitches as possible, even from your first project. This information will help you along your knitting journey, and saves you having to learn these stitches further down the line!
Blocking Your Lace Knits
Once you are finished your knitted lace piece, it might not be exactly how you imagined it to be. It might be a bit bumpy and not as silky smooth as you hoped. This is where blocking comes in. Blocking your knitted lace will help finish it off to feel and fit wonderfully, just how you imagined.
1. Fill up a tub or bucket with warm water and drop in a bit of conditioner, lanolin or baby shampoo. Gently dip and submerge your fabric into the water and let it soak for a while. Try not to move the fabric around too much, but be sure the water covers all areas of the fabric.
2. Once your fabric has soaked thoroughly, empty out the water and gently squeeze any excess water out from the fabric. You could try wrapping the fabric in a towel and squeeze the water out gently this way. You want to stop it being so wet that it drips.
3. Lay the fabric down onto towels resting on foam or a bed. Using pins, stretch and pin your fabric how you want it to fall, and into the shape you want.
4. Let the fabric dry overnight or next to fans to do it quicker.
5. Once dry, you will have a wonderfully soft and shaped knitted fabric garment. You shouldn’t have to repeat this again, but you can if it falls out of shape.
Lace knitting can soon become one of your favorite pastimes. The results are beautifully light and intricate designs that look professionally done. We really don’t need an extra reason to knit, but trying out some new lace knit designs could be an extra reason! Just make sure you have the right needles and yarn and you are set to go!