Of Lifelines and Options

I’m knitting my first shawl. Nothing can make you feel like a beginning knitter like lace. I was calling this my first lace project, but that’s not entirely true. My first socks (Rav Link) had a lace pattern, and I made Ice Queen for my mother-in-law. This is, however, my first shawl and by far the biggest and most intricate lace project I’ve undertaken.

And with that comes problems. The stitches are so tiny, I think I’m accidentally knitting two at a time every now and then. I don’t realize it until I get to the end of the row and am short stitches. I’ve been able to catch a few mistakes on the fly, but at least twice now, I’ve had to rip out several rows and go back to start over. One stitch here or there I can adjust for and it won’t be noticeable. Three stitches missing, whoops! That’s a do-over.

Lace isn’t easy to rip out and then pick back up again because of those tiny, intricate stitches. That’s where the lifeline comes in. Every few rows (I’m doing at the end of each pattern repeat, every 5 right-side rows), you run a piece of smooth waste yarn or unwaxed dental floss through your live stitches. This way, when you have to rip back — as I’ve done twice now — you have a safety net to catch your stitches. You the follow the floss and put those stitches back on your needle and can pick up from that row. It really should be explained at the beginning of every lace pattern to make knitters’ lives better.

The needles I’m using right now are a god-send (thank you, Kate!!!). I began this project on Addi Natura circs, but the join isn’t smooth enough. I kept getting stitches caught on the metal fastener between the cord and needle. It slowed me down so much, I put out a call for help on Ravelry. A nearby knitter offered me her Addi Turbo circs AND her KnitPicks Options. (She even delivered them to my house!) The metal Addis were much better than the bamboo, but I’m in love with the KnitPicks Options! The join is ultra smooth, the needles stayed screwed on (unlike the cheap craft store version), the points are super pointy, and the cord is very flexible. They’re my new favorite circular needles! (And I thought Clover Takumi would always be first in my heart.)

Thank goodness for lifelines — the floss kind and the friend kind! They make life and lace much easier!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kristen
    Apr 21, 2009 @ 10:18:30

    The KP Options are pretty great. I knit almost exclusively with KP needles, whether it be my options set or my dpns (I have their dpns in both metal and harmony wood).

    I’m knitting my lace shawl with some addi turbos and I don’t like them as much. The cord seems to twist up a lot more than the Options. =P


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