First Steps in Lace
The Yarn Over
1. Bring the yarn to the front between the needles. If the last stitch was a purl stitch, the yarn is already in front. 2. Take the yarn over the top of the righthand needle. 3. Bring the working yarn to where it needs to be to work the next stitch. If the next stitch will be a knit stitch, the yarn is already in back; if it will be a purl stitch, bring the yarn between the needles to the front. The yarn over is complete; working the next stitch anchors it. Lace is openwork—eyelets or holes—used in a purely decorative manner. To create such holes in select parts of fabric, we turn to a move most of us made by mistake as beginners: the yarn over (yo).
A yarn over is simply a strand of working yarn laid across the right-hand needle which results in a new stitch.
Knit 2 together (k2tog): The right needle goes through both the second and first stitches on the left needle, and the new loop is pulled through both stitches. This puts the second stitch on top of the first. Visually, the stitch slants to the right, and a k2tog is said to be a right-leaning decrease.
The mechanics of lace involve only a few moves— master those, and you’ll be on your way!
Notice the way the yarn goes over the needle, slanting to the left. The slant of the yarn over matches the slant of the stitches on the needle; what will become the right leg of the stitch sits in front of the needle, and what will become the left leg sits in back.
This is called stitch mount, and the mount of your yarn overs should match your other stitches. Working into a yarn over feels strange because you are working into a space, creating a hole. If your fabric has no holes, your yarn overs may not have the proper stitch mount. Since yarn overs add stitches, we usually need to maintain the stitch count with decreases. The type of decrease, its appearance and its placement are what give a lace pattern its characteristic appearance. Here are just a few common decreases that you’ll usually see:
Slip, knit, pass stitch over (skp) and slip, slip, knit (ssk): These are two commonly used left-leaning decreases. When slipping stitches for decreases, slip knitwise; this is essential for producing an uncrossed top stitch. Both decreases yield the same result, but most people find it easier and faster to work a slip, slip, knit.
slip, knit, pass stitch over (skp)
Knit 2 together (k2tog)
slip, slip, knit (ssk)