I do love to knit lacy designs. It takes a certain level of concentration and practice, that can be mastered by most knitters. The technique is for those who enjoy the process over the end product. The process of lace knitting is like painting a picture, but instead of paints and a brush its with artfully placed holes or yarn-overs combined with an equal number of decreases to fashion a highly decorative knitted fabric.
But today's post is not about actually knitting lace, but about getting your lace swatch to look just right; to have good stitch definition. Not too loose, giving an overall sheer look. Not too tight, where the holes and essentially the look of lace vanishes entirely. Whether its too loose or too tight, the lace design can get lost.
This is not meant to scare or dissuade anyone from trying to knit lace, in fact the opposite.... with some simple tweaks of needle size or even the yarn, results can vary greatly.
A lacy wrap pattern usually calls for a specific yarn and needle size. In my humble opinion, these are merely a suggestion.... the chosen yarn and your own tension can have a dramatic effect on the overall knitted fabric, which may require you to try different needle sizes to get the desired fabric. For me, I tend to go down in needle size because I'm a fairly relaxed knitter. For those who tend to knit more tightly, a larger needle may be in order.
On with the story.....
I purchased a beautiful sea-glass color lace yarn blend of tencel/alpaca/nylon that I had never worked with before, with the thoughts that it would make a fabulous spring/summer wrap. Tencel is a natural product made of wood pulp cellulose, having a silky texture. Combining tencel with alpaca, seemed like it should hold its block better than if using tencel alone.
I worked up several swatches using first a US#4 which ended up with horrible results, the lacework was entirely to open. After ripping it out, then swatched with a US #3 with also unacceptable results, still to open for my liking, pictured below.
Then finally with a US#2.5 giving better, but still somewhat less than desirable results, pictured below. I'm disappointed by not getting the fabric that I thought I would love and not thrilled with the thought of knitting an entire wrap with a US#2.5 or smaller needle. Its a headset issue for me.....will just have to get over it!
The moral of the story is ......sometimes its not you or me.....sometimes its the yarn. As I see it, I will have to make the decision to use a smaller needle or choose a different pattern, perhaps like Pebbly Mesh Lace Wrap that needs the loose and open effect. If interested, the pattern for Pebbly is available on Ravelry.com.
And until next time.......