basic lace
I thought I’d give you some basic information about lace knitting, starting with the stitches most often used in lace:

  • k2tog (knit two sts together) — the resulting decrease slants toward the right (as you’re looking at the garment). You literally knit two stitches as if they were one
  • ssk (slip, slip, knit the slipped sts together) or its similarly looking, k2togtbl (knit two stitches together through the back loop) — the resulting decrease slants toward the left (as you’re looking at the garment). This one can be harder to do but again just treats two stitches as one stitch
  • yo (yarn-overs) – note that when you are doing YOs, you are purposely placing a hole in your knitting. Make sure when you go to purl that yarn-over on the ws, you do not twist the stitch. Instead, purl into the back loop of this yarn over to keep the hole nice and round.

Here’s a picture of the most basic of lace knitting — decreases paired with a yarn-over to keep the stitch count at 16. But notice how, by shifting over in subsequent rows, the line of decreases angles away from the center. This is how diagonals or simple leaves can be knit into a garment.

decreases paired with yarn-overs

decreases paired with yarn-overs

You can also create more interest in the lace by adding some stitches in between the decrease and the yarn-over, like so:

Decrease separated from the yarn-over

Decrease separated from the yarn-over


By placing stitches between the decreases and yarn-over, the pattern becomes more rounded, less angular. Note also that, in the first row, the yarn-vers look like they’re not on the same row as the decrease — this is how you’ll obtain a wavy-edged garment when knitting lace from the cast on row.

Remember that, for basic lace knitting, all decreased stitches must be balanced with the same number of yo’s. So, in the above two examples, we had a k2tog (decreasing 1 st) placed with a yo … and a yo placed with a ssk (decreasing 1 st). The resulting number of stitches must remain the same from row to row in this basic knitting, otherwise you will end up with a piece of knitting that is not rectangular, but rather one that flares out or in.

Finally, I’d like to show you what happens when you decrease two stitches each time by:

Double-decreases (from L to R:  yo, sssk, yo; yo, sl 1, k2, psso, yo; yo, k3tog, yo)

Double-decreases (from L to R: yo, sssk, yo; yo, sl 2, k1, psso, yo; yo, k3tog, yo)

As you can see:

  • sssk (slip, slip, slip, knit these 3 sts together) OR k3togtbl (k3 sts together through the back loop) — slants toward the left
  • sk2p (slip 1, knit 2 together, pass slip stitch over the knit 2 together) — creates a center line of decreases that look like a tent; another version of this is sl2, k1, p2sso — that makes a center line up thru the dec
  • k3tog (knit 3 sts together) – slants toward the right

The k3tog/sssk do basically the same thing their k2tog/ssk counterparts do as far as the angle of the slant; these, though, decrease two stitches each time so we need to work a yarn-over on either side of this decrease. The center-line decrease (the one not pictured) can be quite effective when you want a vertical line running up the lace-knitting while decreasing two stitches each time:
center double decrease
I think you can see the many possibilities you can achieve by playing with the placement of decreases and yarn-overs, always ensuring that the number of stitches remains the same. This will allow you to have a regular shape for inserting a lace panel into a knitted sweater or for making lacy sleeves.

Have you tried lace-knitting? Have any questions or need clarification…. just let me know in the comments-section!sig block

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