Traditional Lace

Lace:  n.~  /lās/ A fine open fabric, typically one of cotton or silk, made by looping, twisting, or knitting thread in patterns.

Lace in the most traditional sense of the word is knitting in the form of matching increases and decreases to cause an open airy textile. The basis of all knit lace is faggoting. Faggoting is a traditional two row lace with a three stitch repeat. You work your selvedge stitch(es) followed by: yo, k2tog, knit {selvedge stitches}. The following row would be: {Selvedge  stitch(es)} yo, p2tog, purl {Selvedge stitch(es)}.

This creates an alternating ladder effect; resulting in an extremely lacy, delicate textile. Faggoting by it’s lonesome tends to curl, so it is most often found within a larger lace pattern, or paired with another stitch, such as a garter or stockinette, to maintain structural selvedges.

Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby has this to say about faggoting in regards to Understanding Lace (page 17) :

If you are new to lace knitting you could use this pattern [faggoting] as a starting point; it is repetitive and will enable you to observe the formation of the stitches. First knit a small swatch of the faggoting pattern. On row 2, notice that the purl-1 after the purl-2-together is purled into the yarn-over on the previous row. Also, the first stitch of a knit-2-together or purl-2-together group is always a little looser than the one that follows, and it slants to the left. If you learn to recognize the stitches in this way, it will help with more difficult patterns which you will tackle later. Although lace looks complicated, it is really about being aware of the slant of the stitches, (to the right or to the left), and the position of yarn-overs. If you understand the formation of a stitch pattern, you can recognize when it goes wrong and learn to put it right. The most common mistake is the omission of a yarn-over. If this occurs, pick up the thread between the two adjacent stitches to provide the missing stitch.

Having said that, what we think of as “traditional” in today’s terms, may conjure up lace from the Shetland isles, Estonian lace,  Norwegian lopi patterns, even possibly your grandmothers doilys. Lace has worked it’s way through history and into almost every culture in the world. I like to think that these patterns that have been passed down through generations, the movements bred into our fingers are as natural to us as the color of our hair. Imagine a time and place where you started knitting as soon as you could hold the needles and yarn. By the time you were progressing through puberty, you could knit with the best of them. You may not be able to voice your pattern, or how to turn a heel, but you left the work to your fingers, adept and skilled at the task at hand; not unlike many of us feel today in front of a keyboard, or texting on a cell phone.

When beginning your journey into the domain that is knitted lace, start with the root of things. Try a faggoting stitch, learn to read your knitting. Begin to feel that yarn between your fingers, and let them do the work. After a while you will find that it becomes a natural rhythm, that is a wonderful time to branch off into lacework, traditional or otherwise.


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November’s Starting Lineup…

…your monthly progress report.

It’s the first of the month, so it’s time for our starting lineup, where I take a look at all my lace projects that I have on the needles or-OTN for short. First up we have my:

Interim Feather and Fan: a lacy scarf using the building blocks of the feather and fan stitch with a little twist.

Interim Feather and Fan Scarf

Pattern: Feather and Fan stitch with alternating garter stitch columns and selvedges

Yarn: Crystal Palace Kid Merino [ Lace,  44% Nylon, 28% Merino, 25% Mohair, 240 yards] Fudge Brownie 2 Balls

Needles: Size 6 straights

Total current width: 12″

Total current length: 34″

# of repeats completed: N/A

Goal width: 12″

Goal Length: 66″

Goal # of repeats complete: N/A

% of project completed: 51.5%


This scarf is a joy to knit. As far as “mindless” lace is concerned, this is as close as it gets. There is only one row of lace, the rest is simply alternating between stretches of purls dappled with knits. The yarn is not something that you can easily rip out, so all mistakes must be unknit to avoid mutilating your project. However, the while the mohair is “sticky” it allows for dropped stitches to be seen easily and repaired, they stay where they are opposed to slipping down the extent of your project, resulting in ladders.

The Eucalyptus Scarf: A lacy scarf using a combination of patterns, a great panel at the bottoms and a simple, yet superb “all over” lace for the remainder.

Pattern: Drops 108-4

Yarn: Knitpicks Shimmer Hand Dyed Lace [ Lace, 70% Baby Alpaca, 30% Silk, 440 yards] Eucalyptus 2 balls

Needles: Size 5 Addi Turbo circulars

Total current width: 11″

Total current length: 32″

# of repeats completed: N/A

Goal width: 11″

Goal Length: 74″

Goal # of repeats complete: N/A

% of project completed: 43.2%


I have to say first off that is yarn is a dream to work with. Even though Knitpicks tends to get a bad rap, anytime you mix baby alpaca and silk, I’m all over that. I have knit this scarf multiple times, but each time I do; I repeat the larger chart, which is truly supposed to be knit once at each end. This time I decided to knit it “properly” with the large lace pattern at the base, followed by the smaller repeats, broken up with a series of garter stitches. I am making this scarf a little larger than I normally would, and of course decided that after I had already knit about a third of it, so I will have to order another ball of this yarn, and pray that the dyelots are similar. A note about this pattern: It is knit in two pieces to preserve the orientation of the lace patterns, then the live stitches are grafted together with a kitchener stitch, one of my favorite knitting tricks.


Who I Am.

From a young age knitting has been my passion. What can I say, I was a strange child. My fingers have always itched to be doing something, my creative juices begging for release. After

Knitted Lace Tablecloth

Image via Wikipedia

picking up those needles and cheap acrylic for the first time, I knew I was in love.  I worked more scarves than I could ever care to count, before I found Ravelry.  Oh Ravelry, how you have changed my life forever.


Nowadays I am a lace fanatic. Whether its the delicate stitches, the game of math with matching increases and decreases, or the feel that I can cheat and get away with it when using a lace on size 5 needles (4 sizes too big, oh my!), lace is with me wherever I go. I knit lace while watching television, in the car, and at the races. While most people bring along “mindless” projects, such as a baby sweater on a stockinette stretch, I find that lace is my comfort and my joy. As many lace knitters know, we get the “I could never do that” from knitters when we break out the projects. After teaching knitting to many, including a five year old boy with great patience, I feel it’s best to share my theory on lace; well, knitting in general. I’m known to ask a few questions before giving them a defined answer:


Me: “Can you knit? Purl?”

Knitter: “Yes, and yes.”

Me: “Can you k2tog, and yo?”

Knitter: “Yes, and yes.”

Me: “Can you read?”

Knitter *usually with a giggle*: “Yes.”

Me: “Than you can knit almost anything, including lace.”

While fine lace is based and both skill and art, the basics can be mastered by any novice. That’s how I started, and look at me now.



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