By now you may have selected your pattern for the knitalong, or you may still be mulling over a few final contenders. We'll provide you with some additional pattern suggestions throughout this blog post, in case you are searching for some inspiration. Getting to know your pattern is an important first step toward lace knitting success. Take the time to read through the instructions and flag anything that seems potentially confusing or complicated at the outset. Once you’ve covered basics like necessary yardage and recommended needle size, here are some further points we recommend investigating before you even reach for your yarn and needles. A lace shawl is a flat piece of knitting, usually in a geometric shape, but there are a surprising number of ways to build those triangles, circles and rectangles. Will you be casting on from a center point and working in the round with concentric increases? Knitting from one end to the other? Knitting from both ends toward the middle and grafting? Beginning with just a few stitches at the spine and increasing, or casting on the full length of one or more sides and increasing or decreasing to shape the shawl? Picking up stitches to work in another direction? Take a look at the schematic, if your pattern has one, to make sure you understand how your piece is going to take shape. At BT we use arrows to indicate the direction in which the fabric grows. Our Construction Notes section thoroughly describes how the work will proceed, too. If your pattern is a garment, you’ll also want to study the construction. If there is shaping within the lace portions, now is a good time to check whether the designer has given instructions on taking added stitches into the lace pattern or what to do when you’ve worked a decrease and no longer have enough stitches to complete a repetition of the lace motif. Left to Right: Shale Baby Blanket, Tetrapods, Lunette Some lace patterns are easier to work than others. If you’re a lace beginner, you may want to stick with a small and regular motif that requires lace maneuvers only on right-side (RS) rows. Pi shawls can be a good way to start out; the work is in the round and you’re always looking at the right side, so it’s easier to read your knitting and notice if something has gone awry. Garments with shaping that interrupts the lace require a strong ability to “read” your knitting and make sure the motifs are continuing to align correctly as the stitch count changes. Are the instructions written or charted? Make sure you’re comfortable reading the charts. If the work is flat, you’ll be reading from right to left on right-side rows and from left to right on wrong-side rows, just the way you knit. If your fabric is stockinette based, you’ll probably see that the chart legend includes symbols that mean something different on the RS and on the WS. If your lace includes anything but plain knitting or purling on the WS rows, make sure you understand the maneuvers the chart requires. A yarnover worked from the wrong side needs to be handled differently than one on the right side. WS decreases have to be worked to match the slant on the right side; don’t be surprised if you see an instruction like p2tog tbl. (NB: To purl stitches together through the back loop, you’ll need to swing your right needle around parallel to the left so you can go into the second stitch first.) If the piece is circular, you’ll always read the charts right to left, in the direction of your knitting. Left to Right: Carpino, Stonecrop, Terra If you will need to work from multiple charts simultaneously, this is a good moment to make photocopies or print out the relevant pages so you can cut and paste those charts into an alignment that won’t require you to leaf back and forth through the pattern. Many knitters like to tape the legend onto the same sheet as the charts if the page layout hasn’t allowed the designer to do so. Others like to enlarge the chart for easier reading; break out the highlighters to color code various maneuvers; or write marginalia that will help them track anything else that’s happening in the pattern, such as shaping in a sweater pattern. If you know you’ll be decreasing every 8th row for waist shaping, writing a note about that on Rows 8, 16, 24, etc. on the chart may help you remember. It’s easy to get caught up in the lace action and blow past additional instructions… and not much fun to rip back in order to fix errors. We hope that covers all you’ll need to consider about your pattern before you begin, but leave questions in the Comments field and join our conversation in the Brooklyn Tweed Ravelry group if you need some immediate answers! Our next post on tools and swatching will cover the rest of the preparation you’ll want to do before the KAL kicks off.


  • Hello Mary Jo,

    It can be hard to know for sure until you’ve had a look at the chart (or the pattern notes may tell you if the designer has been thorough), but a couple of points will give you clues.

    If the lace looks very open —more air than yarn — and you can’t see rows of solid fabric between the holes, it’s probably worked on both sides. The section of the Rock Island shawl (shown beside the schematic illustration above) below the garter stitch is a good example of this. Also, look at the angles in the motifs. Yarnovers and decreases worked only on right-side rows form 45-degree angles. If you see angles that look shallower than that, as in the Tetrapods shawl, that’s a clue that lace maneuvers are happening on both sides. The Halo edging is another example in which you can see shallower angles indicating lace on every row, but since that shawl is knit circularly from the center out, every round is a right-side round.

    Jamie Maccarthy | BT Customer Service

    Jamie Maccarthy on

  • Kitty Martin: I believe the yarn is BT Vale in color Sashiko.

    Lynda on

  • Hi Kitty,

    The blue sample is the Prism stole/cowl from our most recent Wool People 11 collection, knit in Vale: Sashiko.

    Jamie Maccarthy | BT Customer Service

    Jamie Maccarthy on

  • Hello Sian,

    If you’ve got stockinette-based fabric and need to make yarnovers on the purl side, the yarn needs to travel from the front of the work, over and around the needle, and back to the front side. Many knitters find this uses a little more yarn and leaves a slightly larger hole than a regular knit-side yarnover, resulting in a visual imbalance in the motifs.

    If you find this is happening to you, you can make a smaller purl-side eyelet by simply moving the yarn to the back between needles and then working the next stitch, allowing the yarn to travel over the needle as you do so. This yarnover will be mounted backward and you’ll need to work it through the back loop when you meet with it on the following row. Experiment on your swatch and find out which way looks better to you!

    Jamie Maccarthy | BT Customer Service

    Jamie Maccarthy on

  • Great info on knitting in general and on lace and patterns. Always like learning helpful hints.

    Annette on

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