The first time I knit lace, I didn’t know it was lace.

Good thing too, because I’m sure the idea of lace knitting would have stopped me. Not that it seemed too hard. No, at the time I associated lace knitting with doilies and  lace collars & cuffs on elderly relatives. 😉

Illustration from "Vivilore: The Pathway ...

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My first lace project? An afghan for an elderly friend. With that simple lace pattern, I became fascinated with using increases and decreases to create patterns in the knitted fabric. In other words: I discovered lace knitting.

As a first project, an afghan is not the wisest choice. Even in the simplest pattern, knitting a blanket or afghan in one piece is unwieldy. And hard on the arms from the shoulders to the hands!

What kind of project is good for a knitter just starting to knit lace?

  • Knit a small project. Scarves are often recommended because they usually can be made with one skein or less, and are flat.  Dishcloths or washcloths are also often suggested. They are smaller than a scarf, and can be used year-round. They’re also flat so less complex than a 3-dimensional article such as socks. While complicated or circular projects are gorgeous they can discourage anyone who’s new to knitting lace.
  • Pick a simple pattern. One that has increases and decreases alternating with straight knit or purled rows. Save the more intricate patterns where you increase and decrease every row for a later project.

    Knitting tip: If the basic pattern is garter stitch rather than stockinette, you’ll be knitting most if not all your straight rows. And most knitters find the knit stitch easier than the purl stitch.

  • Avoid knitting graphs without written instructions. Unless you’re an experienced knitting graph reader, be sure you have written instructions — with or without a knitting graph. Lace knitting graphs can be challenging for the beginner to follow. When you’re first learning, written knitting instructions are often easier.
  • Simple repeats: A pattern of a few rows is much easier to knit than 28 different rows. And much easier to keep track of! If you haven’t yet learned to read your knitting, a simple repeat leads to much less frustration.
  • Use needles in a size that you’re comfortable with. Most beginners start with worsted weight yarn and size 8 or so needles. If you’ve been knitting with very large or very small needles, you may find changing an added challenge. One you may or may not want to add to the challenge of learning to knit lace. 😉
  • Choose an easy yarn to knit. What’s an easy yarn to knit? Well, one that fits your needles to start. A yarn you like and is easy for you is best. Fancy yarns such as ribbon yarns are probably best left to a later project.
  • Choose a comfortable yarn. One that doesn’t itch or bother you, and one that’s suitable for the time of year you’re knitting. Unlike wool, cotton yarn can be comfortably knit all year long. Even in air conditioning, knitting wool in July in South Carolina is not pleasant!

I’ve designed a beginner’s lace knitting dishcloth. It uses a garter stitch variation of the first afghan I made:

Lace Knitting: Ripple Garter Stitch Dishcloth

My Garter Ripple Kitchen Set includes instructions for both a dishcloth and a hanging towel.

Garter ripple kitchen set

Included are two buttonhole options with instructions for the hanging towel. The instructions are all written (no graphs!). The knitting pattern repeat is 4 rows, and is based on garter stitch. It uses increases and decreases in only one of the four rows.

Size 6 needles are suggested. Because the knitting gauge is optional, the final choice of needle size is yours.


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