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8 Tips for Knitting Lace

Does lace intimidate you?  It certainly looks complicated — but the good news is that if you can follow directions, you can knit lace.

And we already know you can follow directions.  That’s how you learned to knit, right?

But there are some extra things you can do to make knitting lace easier.  So, here are my tips for knitting lace.  There happen to be eight of them.

8 Tips for Knitting Lace.


Tip 1

Use stitch markers.  Mark off the edge stitches (which lace shawls usually have), the centre stitch(es), and even mark the places where the lace patterning repeats itself in a row.  That way, if you forget a yarnover, it will be so much easier to find your mistake.

Don’t like the feel of hard, plastic stitch markers?  I use little loops of knotted yarn in a contrasting colour.  They’re nice and soft, and I don’t freak out when I lose one because I always have more waste yarn.

Tip 2

Avoid making mistakes by counting, double counting, and triple counting.  Why count like an obsessive lunatic?  Because then you’ll notice a missed yarnover almost immediately — soon enough to fix it easily and continue knitting happily.  Remember those stitch markers from Tip 1?  If you know how many stitches should be between each one, and you double check that none are missing each time you reach a marker, your knitting will get ten times easier.

Tip 3

Look at the chart.  It should show you how the stitches will relate to each other once they’re knitted up.  See that line of stacked centre double decreases in the chart?  That means that those decreases will stack neatly in the knitting, too.  And see how those yarnovers form a diagonal line?  That means they’ll form a diagonal line in your knitting, too.

Now, some patterns are too weird to fit neatly into a chart like that.  That’s why designers sometimes have to use those weird, dark-grey “no stitch” squares.  In real life, lace curves and bends… but graph paper does not.  We do what we can with what we have.  But a good designer will always try to show you how the stitches relate to one another.

A tip about reading charts:  Think of each square as an instruction, not a stitch.  If you follow the little line of instructions across the chart, one by one, you’ll do fine.

Another bonus tip about reading charts:  Make sure you’re reading them in the right direction.  Flat charts get read from right to left on right-side rows, but from left to right on wrong-side rows.  Circular charts are read from right to left on all rows.  If in doubt, start at the side where the row number is written and work away from it.

Tip 4

If you really hate charts and absolutely refuse to use them, or if you just want to know your lace on a small scale before casting on 300 stitches, try knitting a small swatch across just one or two pattern repeats.  That way, you’ll get a feel for how the stitches will interact, and you’ll be able to spot mistakes more easily later on when you start your big project.

I did this when knitting some Estonian lace with nupps, and boy, am I glad I did.  The lace repeat was long and two-sided, and I made some mistakes the first time I tried it.  It went much better the second time.  I knew what I was doing by then, and I could spot my mistakes as I made them… instead of 3 rows later.

Tip 5

Keep looking back at your knitting to make sure the stitches are lining up consistently.  In fact, every time you knit a new row, make sure it’s lining up properly with the stitches underneath it.  Are those decreases stacking or lining up the way they should?  Are the yarnovers in the right place in relation to the ones below?

Tip 6

Knit under good lighting.

Tip 7

Don’t knit lace when you’ll be too distracted to pay attention and count your stitches.  TV and knitting groups are great, but they can wreck your lace before you notice a thing has gone wrong.  Ask me how I know this.  Now, I keep at least two projects on the go: I work on my lace shawl during quiet times or boring shows (Formula 1, anyone?), and I have a mindless project I can work away on during good shows like Call the Midwife or The Big Bang Theory.

Tip 8

Yarn matters.  Especially if this is your first lace project.  Avoid fuzzy yarn, dark yarn that’s impossible to see even under good lights, and clown-barf yarn that will draw attention away from your stitches.  Seriously, do you want to knit an intricate lace pattern that no one will notice because the ten different colours are all yelling, “Look at me!  Look at me!” ?

Just so you know, I’m currently knitting a lace shawl with black yarn, and it’s going to be gorgeous.  But on the needles?  It’s impossible to admire, I can’t get a good photo of it for my Ravelry project page, and it can be tricky to see the stitches.  I sit directly under a lamp to knit this shawl.  It’s not impossible.  I just don’t want you to knit your first lace shawl ever in black and then wail, “But Amanda didn’t warn me about this in that post of hers on lace knitting!”  So now — count yourself warned.

Also on the subject of yarn mattering, make sure you use yarn that you can block.  Acrylic yarn?  No matter what you do to it, it will always spring back into a crinkly blob.  When knitting lace, always use something lovely that has memory, like a type of wool or other natural fibre.  Merino is my favourite.  But superwash, even merino, won’t remember the blocking as well as a plain old non-superwash wool.  It’ll be okay, but not awesome.  Trust me on this one, too.

So, how about you?  Have you had troubles with lace knitting in the past?  What were they?

Are there any tips for knitting lace that I’ve missed?  If so, share them in the comments!   I’d love to hear from you.

Sea Glass Shawl by Amanda Schwabe #summerknitting #Cotlin #KnitPicks #aknitica

If you’re looking for an interesting lace shawl (not necessarily a beginner’s one), check out my newest pattern release, the Sea Glass Shawl, now available through Knit Picks!  And come join us for a knitalong over on Ravelry in the Aknitica Designs group.


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Sea Glass Shawl

Are you looking for some interesting summer knitting?  How about something in a nice, light cotton-linen blend, with pretty stripes and lace, that feels good to knit and even better to wear?  And how about a knitalong and giveaway to make it even more fun?

Sea Glass Shawl by Amanda Schwabe #summerknitting #Cotlin #KnitPicks

How about my new shawl pattern?

Sea Glass Shawl by Amanda Schwabe #summerknitting #Cotlin #KnitPicks #aknitica

I had a ton of fun designing this one.  And I had to Google the Pythagorean Theorem and relearn how to use it!  Be impressed.  It was hard.

BUT, now that I’ve done all the hard work, the knitting is easy.  And don’t you love how the lace is in the middle instead of at the edge?  Yeah, I wanted to try something different.  Just because.

It’s kind of like having a necklace in your shawl, right?  Fun.

Sea Glass Shawl by Amanda Schwabe #summerknitting #Cotlin #KnitPicks #aknitica

We begin this beauty by casting on along the bottom edge and then working up in growing-and-shrinking stockinette stripes.  I made a different kind of decrease along the spine to avoid getting a solid line.  Also, I like to try new things.

Here’s where my stupendous, mind-bending math came in:  I had to calculate the distance I had for stripes before the lace panel so I could figure out how many pairs of decreasing stripes I could fit in.  But first, I had to discover the size of the lace.  Then, I had to figure out heights of hypothetical triangles.  Really, I barely remember what I did.  It’s a blur.  But it worked, so I must be amazing.

(I hope you all know me well enough by now to recognize my weird humour.  RIGHT?  Still waiting for that sarcasm font to be invented by someone more brilliant than I am.)

Sea Glass Shawl by Amanda Schwabe #summerknitting #Cotlin #KnitPicks #aknitica


So what we have here is my favourite kind of knitting:  relaxing-yet-not-boring striping stockinette with a splash of interesting thrown in.  The lace panel is, as you can see, a field of mesh surrounding some diamonds surrounding some circles.  With the exception of one row at the very end, ALL the patterning is worked on the right side, and the wrong sides are all purled.

As with all my patterns, I’ve included both charts AND written instructions.  My aim is to please all of the people all of the time.  😉

Some further notes, if you decide to knit a Sea Glass Shawl:

The pattern calls for two balls of CotLin for the lace panel.  My test knitter was able to do it with just one, but I needed a small portion of a second ball.  We wrote “two” because the last thing I want is for you to be like me and run short of yarn!

There are tips in the pattern about how and when to sew in the ends for those stripes.  I really don’t recommend carrying the yarn up the sides because I, personally, don’t like how it looks.  But it’s YOUR shawl!  Do what you like.

You’re welcome to come knit along with others in my group on Ravelry.  I’ll pop in to answer any questions and to ooh and ahh over your colour choices.

That reminds me!  I knit my sample shawl in just two colours (Blackberry and Swan), and it looks fabulous, too.  What do you think?

2013-12-12 15.55.27

Man, it’s hard to photograph Blackberry.  It’s actually a super-deep, almost-black purple.  It’s really gorgeous.  And I like how the high contrast really makes the stripes pop.

But I also love the subtle combination of colours in the Knit Picks sample.  Here’s another colour combo — this is actually the one which I had originally envisioned:

Sea Glass Shawl concept sketch by Amanda Schwabe  #summerknitting #KnitPicks #CotLin #aknitica Sea Glass Shawl concept sketch by Amanda Schwabe Sea Glass Shawl concept sketch by Amanda SchwabeAs you can see, there are so many beautiful possibilities!  I can’t wait to see how everyone else knits this shawl.  Seriously, it’s so fun watching project pages pop up on Ravelry.

Now, for the fun part:  the giveaway!

I have an ebook copy of the entire CotLin 2014 Collection, and I want one of you to have it.  It’s gorgeous.  You can check out the entire collection here to see what I mean.  (In fact, I kind of want to make at least the Band Camp Pullover for myself.  Now that I know how lovely this yarn is, I’m totally tempted.  I bet it would make an amazing, cool-yet-warm sweater.  The yarn is both laid back and high class at the same time.  I guess that’s what you always get when you throw linen in the mix.)

Since I so completely enjoy knitalongs, meeting my fellow knitters, and chatting about colours and projects, I’m going to give the free copy of this ebook to a knitalong participant.

To qualify for the draw:

Head on over to the Aknitica Designs group on Ravelry and tell me what colours you’ll be using to knit your very own Sea Glass Shawl.  Will you use three?  Only two?  Will you go bright or subtle or high-contrast?  Let me know in the group’s Sea Glass Shawl Knitalong thread.

You’ll get bonus points (read: extra entries) for every social media share you connect to this post!  Share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., and then send me an email at amanda at aknitica dot com with a link to each share.  Don’t forget to tag those posts with #SeaGlassShawl

I’ll give you two weeks to enter the draw and order your yarn, and then we’ll get started knitting together!

And then….. da da da DAAAA:  At the end of the knitalong, we’ll have another prize!  Every finished project will be eligible.  I think we’ll have two draws, actually:  one for a hard copy of the CotLin 2014 Collection, which I will mail to the winner, and another draw for a free pattern of your choice from my self-published Ravelry patterns.

Yay!  I think this will be fun.  So, will you be joining me?


Sea Glass Shawl by Amanda Schwabe  #summerknitting #CotLin #KnitPicks #aknitica #SeaGlassShawl

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Effervescent Shawl Pattern

I love lace shawls, but I do not always want to wear them.  You know what I mean?

I prefer to wear an every-day, toss-around-your-neck-and-go Shawl That You Wear Like A Scarf.  In fact, scarf shawls are my new necklaces.  They keep me warm, and I always feel fabulous and cozy while wearing one.  They are my new love.  (I have my knitting guild to thank for that.  Last year was a bit shawl-obsessed for all of us.)

Since my shawls are my favourite accessory, I basically need all sorts of different ones.  Being an in-between size (you know, between “having kids” and “actually wanting to do the work to lose the last 15 pounds”), I tend to buy basic tops.  Like black t-shirts.  But a shawl?  It will fit me no matter what size I am. So you see, I’ve been thinking a lot about shawls lately.

This, then, is my first shawl design, with more to come.  More on my needles, more being charted, more being puzzled through…  But for now:  TA-DAAA!  It’s the Effervescent shawl.

Effervescent Shawl pattern by Amanda Schwabe. It starts with an interesting lace edge that I puzzled out from a cardigan that my Grandma knit for my mom.  I love it because of its nice lines, and how the little eyelets and decreases pull themselves into little almost-bows.  Close enough to be feminine, and far enough to be every-day wear.  It has patterning on both right- and wrong-side rows, with a couple rest rows in between.

Then we move on to perfect tv knitting: stockinette stripes in bold colours.  For me, that makes it a perfect project.  A little bit of spice to start, a little bit of relaxation to finish.  I like my knitting to be both spicy and sweet. Because we started at the bottom edge of the triangle, the finishing up bits are minimal, since all the stitches have been decreased down to 7.  Simple grafting ensues. Effervescent shawl pattern by Amanda Schwabe.


















I love that coral is back in style this year.  And that blue?  Oh my.  This colour combo will keep me feeling breezy and light, even through the deep, dark winter. But I have a feeling that you knitters will branch out and be your creative knitting selves, delving into colour combinations I haven’t even considered yet.  My friend Beckie was leaning toward grey, red, and dark blue last time I saw her.   I can’t wait to see all the colourways that will emerge! Effervescent shawl pattern by Amanda Schwabe.

Now, let’s get down to the details.

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in Coral, White, and Light Blue.  For you local people, I bought mine at Unraveled in Merrickville.  The Baby Cashmerino is about a 2 (Baby/Sport weight) if you’re going by the Craft Yarn Council of America standards, in case you want to substitute.  I bought it because it came in the exact colours that I wanted, and because I love the feel of it.

With the Debbie Bliss yarn, you will need

300 m / 120 g White (3 balls)

150 m / 60 g Coral (2 balls)

250 m / 100 g Light Blue (2 balls)

Needles: size 6 US (4 mm) circular, in about a 32″-40″ range.  You just need a cable long enough to hold your shawl while you work it back and forth.

The pattern includes charts for the lace as well as written directions.  There’s also a drawing that gives you a brief overview and the measurements for blocking.

And now for the Grand Finale!  You can get it by clicking this little button:

p.s.  I finally started a Ravelry group!!  I’d be honoured if you’d join me there.  It’ll be a great place for pattern support, knitalongs, and lots of encouragement.  You can still (and always) reach me by email if you have any questions or comments, but now we have one more choice in the mix.  If you’re knitting up an Effervescent shawl, please come and share it with the group!  I will ooh and ahh over your colour choices.  🙂

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Leafalicious Hat Pattern

Here it is, in all its glory:

Leafalicious Hat

Knit in bulky-weight yarn (shown here in hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn that a friend sent me — isn’t she nice?) with size 9 US (5.5mm) circular needles, the Leafalicious hat is knit in the round from the top down. You’ll use interesting stitches like Judy’s Magic Cast On, LRinc, kfb, seed stitch, and a lace repeat. But with the bulky yarn, it still ends up being a fairly quick knit.

I had a blast watching the colours move in zig zags through the Leafalicious stitch pattern, and I can only imagine how cool this would look in a fall colourway to really imitate the changing of the seasons. If you knit one up, be sure to send me a picture or post it on Ravelry where I can see it! 🙂

You’ll need two size 9 US circular needles, stitch markers, and one skein of a fabulous bulky yarn. The pattern is available for $5 as a Ravelry download, or by clicking the link below. Watch for the matching Leafalicious Mitten/Fingerless Mitten Pattern, which is almost ready for publication.

Happy knitting!

Leafalicious on my kitchen table
Leafalicious -- back & top view