Hooked on Needles

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Knitted Lace Shawl - Helpful Hints on Keeping Track

A few weeks ago, I shared with you my practice knitting for the Lace Shawl pattern I purchased over the summer, and my new-found confidence in my ability to knit this pattern.

I have begun knitting it in the very lovely Alpaca Lace yarn I purchased for it, and I am anxious to show you how it's coming along and share a few tips on how to keep track of where you are in lace knitting.

You can click on any picture to make it bigger. Take a look...

Knitted Lace Shawl updateThirty-six rows of very careful chart-following and concentrated knitting brought me to this point in my project, from 9 stitches cast on to 91 stitches on the needle. You can see the triangle design beginning to take shape. It's solid triangles pointing down and lacy, more open triangles pointing up. This design will be repeated throughout the shawl and will show up much better when the piece is finally finished and blocked to its proper size and shape. I think it is just lovely, and not nearly as hard to knit as I first thought it would be.

Knitted Lace Shawl updateThe chart section above the magnets shows the 12 rows that will be repeated 14 times, with the middle section of it that is marked by orange lines being repeated one more time for each time the 12 row section is repeated. This is what will make the shawl get wider and wider until, by the end of knitting, there will be close to 500 stitches on the needle. Whew!

To help me keep track of where I am with the repeats, I have written on my chart page the numbers 1 through 14. Each time I complete the 12 row section, I will cross off another number. This will ensure that I knit the required number of rows and repeats to make the shawl its proper size.

I also used my orange finepoint pen to highlight on the chart where I will place my stitch markers. You can see the orange lines going through the chart right in the middle of the 12-row section.

Knitted Lace Shawl updateI am using two different types of stitch markers for this project. Above you can see the orange locking stitch markers on the table next to my chart. In the little pouch are more of the same stitch markers, only they are blue. These locking stitch markers will be used to mark the 14-stitch sections that are repeated within each 12 row repeat. I'll show below how this will work.

Next to the orange pen you can see a little plastic box which holds my very old and trusty multi-sized round stitch markers which do not open. These will be used to mark the places in the shawl pattern that don't change from repeat to repeat, namely the first and last two stitches of each row, and the little 5-stitch section in the middle of each row.

Knitted Lace Shawl updateAlso on the top of my chart, I have marked the row number at which each 12-row repeat will end, and the number of stitches there are on the needle at that point. So for where I am right now in the project, I have marked that the first repeat section ends at row 36 and there are 91 stitches on the needle.

The pattern includes information on how many stitches are increased with each repeat, so it is a matter of simple math to check if you have the right number of stitches. Jotting down this information at the end of each section makes checking the accuracy of your work much easier as you go along. It would be a real shame to finish 14 repeats of 12 rows (168 rows) of knitting only to find out that you are a few stitches short and your pattern is off.

Knitted Lace Shawl updateIn this picture you can see better the little circle markers I use for marking the first and last two stitches of each row. These are the yellow circles at the bottom of the picture. Then at the top there are two blue circles which mark the 5-stitch center section of each row. These are the only sections of the pattern that do not change count from row to row.

So I started the beginning of the first 12-row section using orange markers, two of which you can see on the left in the above picture separating the middle 14-stitch section of the first 12-row repeat. On the right, you see three blue markers which are separating the two middle 14-stitch sections at the beginning of the second 12-row repeat.

Knitted Lace Shawl updateHere is how my needle looked at the end of the first row of the second 12-row repeat. On the right are the new blue markers. The orange have been removed from this section already. On the left the orange markers from the first 12-row repeat are still in place, and the blue markers from the beginning of the second 12-row repeat have been added. Once I count my stitches to make sure I worked the pattern correctly, I will remove the orange markers and continue with just the blue. I will continue alternating the orange and blue markers like this at the beginning of each 12-row repeat to help me keep track of my stitches.

Another helpful tool for lace knitting is called a lifeline which I will show you in a subsequent post. For now I will leave you with one piece of sound advice for the next time, or the first time, you pick up a lace knitting project: Count your stitches at regular intervals within each row and at the end of each row. It will save you lots of time in the end!

Happy Stitching!

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  • And I have a hard enough time following the directions on basic crochet! Lovely color yarn your project is just so delicate and beautiful.

    By Blogger Stephanie, At August 16, 2009 at 7:21 AM  

  • Stitch markers are a necessity when your pattern is a little (or alot!) complex. I couldn't knit without them!
    I have to admit I have never knitted using a chart, only written out instructions. It is on my to do list to learn to read charts!
    Your project is looking lovely already but can't wait to see the finished project!

    By Blogger Rumi, At August 16, 2009 at 7:54 AM  

  • Hey Mary Grace,
    What great advice...love all your explanations of the use of markers...they are a lifesaver, for sure...right along with those lifelines! Your shawl is just lovely...wait till you get it blocked! Your Mom is going to LOVE it!
    God Bless You,
    Merry :)

    By Anonymous Merry Thornsburg, At August 16, 2009 at 2:18 PM  


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At September 1, 2009 at 9:21 PM  

  • grandioso todo lo que enseñas,y con tanta ,generosidad,y amor .fue suerte encomtrar ,tu pagina.mil gracias estoy aprendiendo,mucho.saludos

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At September 22, 2009 at 6:17 PM  


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At September 22, 2009 at 6:27 PM  

  • Thank you so much for helping me understand how to work the charts and use stitch markers. I am working on my first lace shawl and couldn't figure out what to do after the first repeat. Your directions and photos are so clear that I know feel confident that I can finish the shawl.

    By Anonymous Susan Gonzalez, At February 27, 2011 at 10:28 PM  

  • I'm rather new to knitting but am working on a lace shawl. Your posting really helped me figure out what to do when it came time for first pattern repeat. Your pics and explanations were wonderful. Thanks. Linda

    By Blogger Linda, At April 6, 2011 at 8:29 AM  

  • Thanks again for this post. I'm wondering what you use for the backing so your magnets stick?

    By Blogger Linda, At April 6, 2011 at 10:37 AM  

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