Wednesday, April 23, 2008

When Good Lace Goes Bad -- An "After the Fact Lifeline" Tutorial

(Please forgive the awful photography. I don't have any little helpers today.)

Occasionally when knitting lace, something goes wrong. A lot of the time, we catch our mistakes pretty quickly and can tink back and fix it without too much bother. Other times, we realize we made a mistake several rows back, and the idea of tinking 700 stitches will drive us mad. (This is why a lot of people, um, smart people, use lifelines when knitting lace. Some of us are overconfident and a wee bit arrogant.) If you have discovered a mistake that is too far back to tink and you haven't used a lifeline, or if your lifeline is so far away that you feel like going all the way back would waste some good knitting, here's a technique to add to your arsenal.

It's Loren T's Patented After-the-Fact Lifeline. This works very well on lace with resting rows -- rows where all you do is purl back, or if you're knitting in the round, you just knit around. It can be done on pattern rows, but it requires a lot more concentrations.

You are going to pick up stitches you've already knit and place them on a holder or a needle. I like to use another circular needle to do this, because that way, when I'm done, I'm ready to knit. You can use an appropriately sized contrasting yarn as well.

First, identify a resting row below the row in which you made the mistake. You will simply pick up all the stitches in this row and place them on your holder/needle. If you want, you can baste a contrasting color thread through this row to ensure that the stitches you pick up are all on the same row. (Again, some of us who are impatient, overconfident, and arrogant skip this step.) Slowly and carefully, using the tip of your needle, pick up one leg of every stitch in the row. You can go from right to left or left to right, it doesn't matter. If you pick up the right leg of the stitch, the stitch will be oriented correctly on the needle when you're done. If you pick up the left leg, the stitch will sit twisted on the needle, and you'll have to knit it through the back loop on the next row to correctly orient it.

Keep picking up stitches, all the way around, being careful to stay in the same row, and being extra careful at the juncture between two needles, where it's sometimes hard to see if or where there is a stitch. Here's a picture once I've picked up a needle's worth of stitches:

Here, you can see that I've picked up the stitches all the way around the doily:

When you are sure that you have picked up all your stitches, pull out the old needles. (I feel like I should give instructions a la EZ, and require you to down a glass of wine first!)

Scary looking, isn't it? But since your new needles are holding all your stitches, there shouldn't be any problem. Next, rip out the stuff above the new needles. If you've done it correctly, all of your stitches are on the needles, and the yarn is at the beginning of the round, ready to go:

There you go!

Now I'm ready to keep going with my doily.

I also started the second STR sock club sock:

In other news, the cat is recovering nicely from her ordeal at the vet's.

I'm too sick of this presidential race to comment much beyond marveling at how the Democrats have managed to completely fuck up what should have been a gimme year, and that I'm thoroughly disgusted with Hilary Clinton.

Now I'm off to start the Mommy taxi service as we head off to multiple activities in multiple places.


kippi said...


um, yeah, I would fall into the over-confident variety of which you were speaking. This is great visual tutorial and I'm going to give it a go. I'm so happy you told me about this as I really was going to rip out the entire lace project. At least now I have a sporting chance of saving it.

btw, your doily looks great. Will it be larger than the stated size in the pattern given that you are using different yarn?

And good for you for starting the second sock. I've yet to do that. I have a feeling the next batch is coming in the mail soon.

Aw, your kitty is better! That is so great.

I have refused to turn the t.v. on for the last 24 hours with the exception of last night's A.I. show. I wanted it to be over. HRC is annoying. Have you seen Steven Colbert's clap clap point video on youtube? It is funny.

Enjoy your mommy duties. :-)

Scott T. said...

OH, I thought this was going to be a story that you went nuclear on that thing. good on you for out smarting it

Firefly Nights said...

Thanks for the info. I let a couple of friends know about it, also.

Loren T said...

I'm glad you found it helpful, firefly! Adorable puppy, by the way :)


Ivy Reisner said...

Brilliant! That is so incredibly helpful. I will keep it in mind for the next time I mess up lace (which should be later today). Thank you.