There is something very satisfying for me, beyond that of a standard knit project, when I finish some lace work. I don't know what it is, I just love it. Perhaps it is because I find lace to be particularly challenging. Looking at a pattern with lace intricacies, my first though is usually...I will never be able to knit that. However, that is a very negative thought and I am a little ashamed every time I have it. (And I am always wrong.) Lace is knit-able. Through many long, frustrated hours and a whole lot of trial and error, I have a few helpful hints that might help those people feeling a little daunted by the yarn-overs get through a lace project with beautiful results.
1. Read through the whole pattern. Look up anything that might be new or tricky for you. Often, I use my printer/copier to make a copy of the pattern...that way it is easy to transport/shove in my project bag and I can mark on it without worrying about ruining the original copy (especially if it is a pattern in a book). 2. Use stitch markers! I cannot stress this enough. Lacework often involves pattern repeats. It will save you a lot of time if you place a marker after every repeat. And you cannot stop there, especially when you first start the pattern you need to count. It might be bothersome and a little time consuming, but while you are learning the pattern, I would recommend checking your stitch count after each marker. Trust me, it is very difficult to backtrack when knitting lace, all of the yarn-overs and knit-togethers make it tricky. If you are off by even one stitch, your lace pattern will not look right because the stitches will not land in the right spots as you move up the pattern. It will save you so much time in the long run if you take a little time to check your work as you go. There is nothing quite so heartbreaking as having to unravel hours worth of detailed knitting. 3. Some people are good at memorizing patterns. I am not one of those people. I learn a pattern and probably could do it from memory, but I like having the pattern right there with me. I like using a sticky note to keep my place because it is easy to move around. (One drawback to a sticky note is that it can also easily fall off.) Some people like to keep their place by using a highlighter. Stitch counters are also useful so you can keep track of your row. (Like I said, there are a lot of repeats involved in lace. You will find yourself counting in every direction.) 4. Pay attention. This one is crucial. I am notorious for going off to la-la-land when I knit. This is a very dangerous thing to do with lacework. Once you are familiar with a pattern, you will start to see where the yarn-overs, etc. should be. If you find yourself doing a slip-slip-knit when it makes sense in the pattern to do a knit-2-together, you should take a moment and investigate. 5. Blocking your project is an absolute must. When are finished knitting, all of the increases and decreases you made while constructing your lace leave it looking a little deformed and lumpy...not at all what you want. Wet-blocking your work will open your lace so that the pattern becomes more visible and lays flat. It is almost like magic when you block your work, what looks something of an ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan right before your eyes. No kidding! (I will post an additional tutorial on blocking lace work.)