Reading Lace Charts

Knitted lace makes use of two simple knitting moves — a yarn over (an increase that makes a small hole) and a decrease — to create myriad stitch patterns. Every opening in a lace fabric is made from a yarn-over increase, and every yarn over is paired with a decrease to compensate for the increase. When you understand the basis of lace's increase/decrease structure, even the most complicated lace patterns become intelligible. Of course, you can follow the instructions for a lace stitch without understanding the underlying structure, but being able to recognize how the pattern manipulates the basic yarn over/decrease unit is a great confidence builder.

^ Knitted lace is a fabric made with yarn overs and decreases, but there are y^JV other ways to get lace-type fabrics. Using a very large needle with a fine ■ IQJ1 yarn makes an open and airy piece of knitting. Our favorite shawl pattern is a simple garter stitch triangle (with increases worked at either end of every row) made in a fingering- or sport-weight yarn and worked on size US 13 (8 mm) needles. For extra visual interest, use a self-patterning sock yarn. Try it!

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