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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Inventing Eyelet Lace

Now that you know how to cast on, increase, and decrease, we might as well go ahead and invent some lace.  You’re ready.  Seriously.

I want you to see that you can create something as you go.  Creating is controlling.  Changing at will.  Innovating rather than following by rote.

Creating is understanding.  Seeing the connections between actions and results.  Realizing the implications.

If you can create, you can intelligently follow another creator’s pattern.  Catch their mistakes, even.  Trust me.

OK.  Find some yarn (worsted weight is good) and needles (about a #7 to #10 should be appropriate).  I’ve used a circular needle because that’s my default position.

Using the long-tail cast-on, CO 21 sts. 

(If you’ve just now discovered this blog, go back and follow the instructions for The Long-Tail Cast-On.)

Row 1:  purl. 

(You do know how to purl, don’t you?  Insert your needle into the front of the stitch, tip pointing toward you rather than away, as the knit stitch does.  Push the yarn back through the hole.  Knitting pulls the yarn forward; purling pushes the yarn back.  Simple as that.)

Row 2:  k8 (knit 8 stitches)
              SKP (slip one stitch as if to purl, knit the next stitch, pass the
slipped stitch over the knit stitch)
              k1 (knit 1 stitch)
              yo (yarn over:  see The Yarn-Over Increase)
              k10 (knit 10 stitches)

Row 3:  p21 (purl 21 stitches)

When making lace, the increases and decreases usually happen on the right side, which is usually the knit row.  This makes it easier to see what you're doing.  The wrong side, usually the purl row, consolidates the changes you've just made.  Brings them into focus.  Notice that you can now see the eyelet you made.  Subsequent rows will more clearly show the decorative ridge developing where you made your SKP decrease.

Notice:  when making lace, usually the same number of stitches are preserved across the row. These patterns are easier for a beginner to follow.  There are some more advanced lace patterns that will vary the number of stitches from row to row:  save these until you've logged, oh, about a couple of years of knitting experience.  

Also notice:  in order to preserve the same number of stitches across a row, every increase (in this case, the yarn-over, which makes the eyelet hole) must be balanced with a decrease.  Where you put that decrease is not as important as remembering to make one.  

We've just placed our decrease (the SKP) before the increase, with one knit stitch intervening.  Let's work a couple more rows and you'll see an attractive vertical ridge developing because of this placement.

Row 4:  Repeat row 2.
Row 5:  p21.
Row 6:  Repeat row 2.
Row 7:  p21.
Your work should now look like this:

Notice that the eyelets form a vertical row.  To their right is a discernible vertical ridge created by the SKP repeats.

I started these eyelets in the middle of the row.  That was purely an arbitrary decision.  You can put them anywhere you like.  

But if you want to continue playing along, let's start a set of eyelets to the right and also to the left of this middle set.  Let's use the k2tog decrease so you can see the difference in effect.  And let's place the decrease immediately after the eyelet, rather than one stitch before.

Row 8:  k4, yo, k2tog, k2, SKP, k1, yo, k4, yo, k2tog, k4.

If you lose your place easily, just mark off each operation after you've completed it.  It'll slow you down, but at least you'll know where you are.  Experience will teach you to read from the knitting to find your place.  

Row 9:  p21.
Row 10:  Repeat row 8.
Row 11:  p21.
Row 12:  Repeat row 8.
Row 13:  p21.

There's nothing magical about knitting the same row three times.  I'm being purely arbitrary, so you can watch the eyelets develop.  

By now your knitting should look like this:

Notice the difference between the vertical ridge to the right of the middle set of eyelets (created by the SKP and k1) and the more subtle effect of the k2tog immediately following each of the eyelets on either side.

We can move those side eyelets.  Let's shift them toward the center.

Row 14:  k3, yo, k2tog, k1, SKP, k1, yo, k3, yo, k2tog, k5.
Row 15:  p21.

Your work should look like this:

See how the side eyelets are moving toward the center?

Let's move them in even further:

Row 16:  k6, yo, k2tog, SKP, k1, yo, k2tog, k6.
Row 17:  p21.

Are you seeing this?

 I'm thinking that if we moved the side eyelets in one more space, we could call this Little Arrow Eyelet Lace or some such.  And if we repeated it on either side, and if we continued knitting those same 19 rows, it could make an attractive over-all fabric design.  We might want to add a row of plain knitting and purling in between vertical repetitions of the motif.  Or we might want to stagger the arrows (like a tic-tac-toe effect).  

We have the helm, Scotty.  

Now go and make up some lace.  Tell us about it so we can try it too.


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