Mastering the Art of Lace Knitting Stitches: Tips for the Beginner Plus 4 Lace Stitch Directions

Bonus:  4 Lace Knitting Stitches Patterns

by Janice Jones |Updated 01-17-2024

Lace knitting is an intricate art form that creates delicate patterns using yarn and knitting needles.

It is a technique that requires a certain level of skill and attention to detail. In this article, I will share some tips and tricks that will help you master the art of lace knitting stitches.
If you are interested in the lace knitting stitches I have provided, feel free to jump down the page.

Why Consider Lace Knitting as Beginner-Friendly?

A swatch worked in cream color yarn of a simple lace design

Last week my daughter got dressed for the theater, a lovely dress, stilettos, and a lightweight hoodie. There was just something that needed to be fixed with the look. I decided I needed to make her a lovely lace shawl for such occasions.

Lace is not a strength for me, but following simple lace designs is well within the realm of beginning knitters. Yes, lace can be very complex, and those patterns should be reserved for advanced knitters.

Is There a Difference Between Lace and Eyelets

Eyelets are used in a variety of clothing fashions, but in knitting, eyelets are small holes created by yarn-overs that add a decorative element to the fabric. Lace is a broader term that refers to any pattern that has holes in it. Eyelets are often used in lace patterns to create movement and texture.

Benefits of Lace Knitting

A young Shih Tzu puppy is sitting on a basket of yarn and swatches

Lace knitting has numerous benefits, both physical and mental. It is a great way to reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and boost creativity. The repetitive motion of knitting can be soothing and meditative, allowing you to relax and unwind after a long day.

Additionally, lace knitting can be a great way to challenge yourself and improve your knitting skills. It requires a certain level of precision and attention to detail, which can help you improve your focus and concentration.

There may be a few knitting techniques that you will need to know, including how to read lace charts, simple increases and decreases, and how to make simple eyelets. That might seem like a lot, but it is doable.

Essential Tools for Lace Knitting

You will need some essential tools to start lace knitting, including knitting needles and yarn.

Knitting Needles

A set of bamboo straight knitting needles held by a person.

When it comes to knitting needles, choosing a pair that is the right size for your project is essential. For lace knitting, there are a few choices for needles. You will want to choose the size needle the pattern calls for. However, experimenting with several different needles might be a good idea.

Most lace work is created on either straight or circular needles. It makes good sense to pick a needle that is right for you, but here are a few thoughts to keep in mind.

For your first attempt with lace, consider bamboo needles because they are a bit stickier, so you would be less likely to lose stitches accidentally.

Other knitters prefer steel, brass, or aluminum needles with sharp, long tips. Many companies will call some of their needles lace needles.

For example, Addi Lace knitting needles and Red Lace are ChaioGoo or HiyaHiya Sharp interchangeable needles. These needles are slick, smooth and have extended tips that allow for faster knitting.

Yarn for Lace Knitting Stitches

Colorful yarn shelved in a yarn shop

In terms of yarn, it's essential to choose a high-quality, fine yarn that will create a delicate and intricate lace pattern. Look for yarns made from natural fibers, such as wool or silk, as these will give your knitting a luxurious feel.

You can create lace with any yarn, and for the beginner accustomed to working with worsted-weight yarn (Craft Yarn Council number 4), this might be a good choice for practice. However, following a lace knitting stitch pattern, you will want to choose either the recommended yarn or a suitable substitution.

You will find yarns labeled as lace yarn, fingering, sport, or DK weights are often used in lace patterns.

Additional Helpful Supplies to Have

Beyond needles and yarn, you will want to have a couple of other supplies on hand:

Understanding Lace Knitting Patterns

It's essential to understand the different types of patterns that are used in lace knitting. Lace patterns often involve a combination of yarn overs, knit stitches, and purl stitches, which create the intricate lace design.

Increases and decreases are used to keep the stitch count the same from row to row and still create the little delicate holes that make up the lace fabrics we are creating.

When reading a lace knitting pattern, paying close attention to the stitch count and pattern repeats is essential. Ensure you understand how the design works before you begin, and take your time to ensure that you follow the pattern correctly.

Row repeats are important when knitting lace. More complex patterns will require more row repeats. Using a row counter comes in handy to help keep your place.

Lace Knitting Charts

Knitting charts are another way of writing instructions in pictorial form using symbols. Some patterns provide just the written instructions, others offer just the chart, and others provide both. As you gain experience and confidence, you will decide which instruction delivery method works best.

On lace charts, a yarn over is often represented as a circle, matching a hole in your knitting. At the same time, decreases are usually shown as diagonal lines, just like the decreases create slanted lines in your fabric. Knit and purl stitches are symbolized by a blank box depending on whether you are on the right or wrong side of the fabric.

The chart can give you a good sense of how your lace is created and how it will look.

An example of a knit lace chartLace Knit Chart for the Feathers and Fan Lace Stitch Pattern

Common Stitches and Abbreviations Used in a Simple Lace Pattern

Lace knit stitches are just a series of knits and purls, plus increase stitches and decrease stitches.

  • Yarn Over (YO) The yarn over creates the small hole lace is famous for. The yarn over is considered to be a knitting increase stitch.
  • Knit Two Together (k2tog) is a knitting decrease stitch. You will often find YO and K2tog paired where the pattern calls for a YO followed by a K2tog to create the holes but not change the stitch count of the row.
  • Knit Three Together (K3tog): Similar to the Knit two together but you knit three stitches at the same time, decreasing two stitches
  • Purl Two Together (P2tog):  This is done like the knit two together, but instead you purl two together, creating a decrease on the wrong side of the fabric.
  • Slip Slip Knit (SSK Decrease): A left-leaning decrease stitch that is created by first slipping one stitch from the left to the right needle as if to knit and then repeating with the second stitch on the left needle. Slip the left needle through the two stitches you just slipped with the left needle closest to you. Wrap the yarn around the right needle and knit through the back loops of the two stitches and then slide them off the left needle.
  • Slip 1 with yarn in front (sl1wyif) While holding the yarn in the front, Slip one stitch from the left to the right needle without knitting it.
  • Slip 1 with yarn in back (sl1wyib) While holding the yarn in the back, Slip one stitch from the left to the right needle without knitting it.
  • Pass Slip Stitch Over (PSSO):  Usually used with other techniques such as “slip 1, knit2tog, psso.” to create a decrease.  Slip one stitch as if to knit.  Knit two together, the pass the slipped stitch over top of the stitches you knit together.

Tips for Mastering Lace Knitting Stitches

To become a master of lace knitting stitches, it's important to practice regularly and pay close attention to your technique. Here are a few tips to help you improve your lace knitting skills:

  1. Use stitch markers to keep track of your pattern repeats. Place a stitch marker every 10 to 20 stitches.
  2. Practice knitting with a lifeline to help you recover if you make a mistake.
  3. Keep your tension even to create a consistent and beautiful lace pattern.
  4. Take breaks often to avoid eye strain and fatigue.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Lace Knitting

When first learning lace knitting, it's common to make a few mistakes. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:

  1. Losing track of your pattern repeats (I keep a pad and pencil nearby, but there are programs you can use online)
  2. Dropping stitches (Learn how to read your stitches so you can identify a dropped stitch)
  3. Not using a lifeline
  4. Tension that is too tight or too loose. Yarnovers can create large holes if given too much slack.
  5. Picking up extra stitches. (Be sure to knit each k2tog or k3tog.)
  6. Ending a row with too few stitches. Assure you are making each YO required. Always count.

You can avoid these common mistakes and create beautiful lace knitting projects by being aware of them.

Finishing and Blocking Lace Knit Projects

Once you have completed your lace knitting project, it's important to finish and block it properly. Blocking helps even out your stitches and create a more polished and professional-looking finished product.

To block your lace knit project, soak it in lukewarm water and lay it flat to dry. You can also pin it in place to help it maintain its shape as it dries. Learn more about blocking.

Blocking-supplies.jpg

Beginner Friendly Lace Knitting Stitches

What makes lace stitches easy for the beginner? Firstly, you want to find a pattern with a minimum row pattern, such as a 4-row repeat.

Next, you want to find a pattern with a simple stitch repeat. This first stitch is one of the easiest I've ever seen.

1. Simple Garter Lace Stitch

A swatch of the garter lace stitch worked in purple yarn.

If you're new to lace stitches, you should try one first. It has one row of stitches repeated until you reach your desired length.

This pattern creates a lovely, reversible lace pattern, meaning that the right and wrong sides are identical.

Directions: Simple Garter Stitch Lace Pattern

CO a multiple of 4 + 2 stitches.  For this swatch, I cast on 18 stitches.

Row 1 and all further rows:

K2, *yfrn, P2tog, K2* repeat to end of row.

That's it!

A word about yfrn:This stands for yarn forward round needle.  You will see this in lace patterns where you are transitioning from a knit stitch to a purl stitch.

It is a type of yarn over, but you will need to:

  1. Bring the yarn to the front of the work. (as if to purl)
  2. Bring the yarn over the right needle.
  3. Bring the yarn back to the front of the work.  Your yarn is now in front where you need it for a purl stitch.

2. Easy Lace Pattern Stitch: Feathers and Fan

Feather and Fan knit stitch pattern swatch in green yarn

One of the easiest beginner-friendly lace knit stitches is the Feathers and Fan stitch. It's an old stitch, and you will find different variations across the internet, but it is a good stitch to practice lace knitting.

It is worked on a multiple of 18 stitches and comprises a 4-row repeat. You can add stitches on either side to create a project where a border makes sense, such as a scarf. A garter stitch border works well with the feathers and fan pattern.

This is an easy lace pattern that uses just four techniques.
K: Knit stitch
P: Purl Stitch
YO: Yarn over
K2tog: Knit two stitches together.

To create a swatch, Co multiples of 18 stitches. (at least 36, but 54 will give you a better idea of how it looks. Refer to the lace knit chart above or use the directions below.

Directions For Feather and Fan Lace Knit Stitch

CO multiples of 18.

Row 1: K across
Row 2: P across
Row 3 *(k2tog) 3 times, (YO, K1) 6 times, (K2tog) 3 times* Repeat from * to end of row.
Row 4: K across

Repeat Rows 1 to 4 until you reach your desired length.

Check out the full tutorial on the Feather and Fan Pattern

3. Eyelet Pattern

A swatch of eyelet pattern knit lace worked in purple yarn

This is another easy lace pattern that creates eyelets every three rows. It is not reversible but can be used in several easy projects, including shawls, cowls, and scarves. It also works well if you are making fingerless gloves. It does require a cast on of multiples of 3 plus two. I cast on 12 plus 2 or 14 stitches for the swatch pictured.

Cast On: Multiples of 3 + 2

Row 1: (RS): Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: K2, *yo, k2tog, k1; rep from * to end
Row 4: Purl

4. Eyelet Fabric

Eyelet fabric created with 100% pink wool, still on needles and not blocked.This swatch was created with worsted-weight wool yarn and has not been blocked, so it is difficult to see the individual eyelets.

This swatch was created with worsted-weight wool yarn and has not been blocked, so it isn't easy to see the individual eyelets.
Work with a multiple of 4 plus 3.

Row 1 (WS): Purl.
Row 2: K2, * yo, k2tog, k2; repeat from *, end yo, k2tog, k3.
Row 3: Purl.
Row 4: K4, *yo, k2tog, k2; repeat from *, end yo, k2tog, k1.

Repeat Rows 1–4 for the pattern until the desired length is achieved.

5.  Knit Lace Granite Stitch

Right side showing of the granite lace knitting stitche pattern.Knit Lace Granite Stitch

The Granite Lace Knitting Stitch is an intriguing and sophisticated knitting pattern, often admired for its distinctive combination of complexity and elegance. The fabric produced is lacy and that criss-cross design is reminisce of granite rock.  It is created by working a row of knitting decreases and then a row of increases.  This tutorial provides a step-by-step photo tutorial for making these knitting increases and decreases.

Learn how to make the Knit Lace Granite Stitch

Lace Knitting Stitches:  Pin for Future Reference

A pinable image of lace knitting stitches showing knitting needles and a scarf being created with red yarn.Pin this Image for Future Reference

Eyelet Mock Cable Ribbing

A swatch of the eyelet mock cable rib stitch worked in worsted  weight rose colored yarn.

This swatch pattern falls into several different catagories of knit stitches, but I've included it here because it is an eyelet stitch and an easy beginner friendly pattern that includes purls and knits with a couple additional techniques that are not difficult to learn.

Directions

The pattern is worked on multiples of 5 + 2

Row 1 (RS): P2, *sl 1 purlwise, k2, psso, p2; rep from * to end.

Row 2: K2, *p1, yrn, p1, k2; rep from * to end.

Row 3: P2, *k3, p2; rep from * to end.

Row 4: K2, *p3, k2; rep from * to end.

Work these four rows for the pattern until you reach your desired length. Bind off, and weave in ends.

Learn more about the Eyelet Mock Cable Ribbing Stitch

Tips for Making Lace Knitting Stitches

    • Learn to read your stitches if you lose your place.
    • Throw yourself a lifeline "just in case."

What can you make with this easy lace stitch pattern?

  • Scarf
  • Shawl
  • Table Runner
  • As the edge of a garment

Conclusion

Lace knitting skills can be a challenging but rewarding technique to master. By using the right tools, understanding lace knitting patterns, and practicing regularly, you can become a master of this intricate art form.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced knitter, plenty of resources are available to help you improve your skills and create beautiful lace knitting projects. Before you know it, you'll be on your way to making your designs!

Happy Knitting

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