4 Characteristics That Make A Lace Pattern Easy Or Hard

When you’re looking at a lace pattern and seeing if you want to knit it, first check these two things:

  1. Is it knitted (a) flat or (b) in the round?
  2. Does it have (a) written directions or (b) charted directions?

Also check for yarn thickness and amount. Does it use:

  1. (a) thick yarn or (b) thin yarn?
  2. (a) just a little bit of yarn or (b) a lot of yarn?

The more “a” answers you have, the easier the lace pattern.

Therefore, the easiest lace patterns:

  • are knitted flat
  • have written directions
  • use thick yarn
  • use not very much yarn
"Poplar" lace dishcloth by Julia Stanfield – A very easy lace pattern

“Poplar” lace dishcloth by Julia Stanfield – A very easy lace pattern

By contrast, the hardest lace patterns:

  • are knitted in the round
  • have charted directions
  • use thin yarn
  • use a lot of yarn
Morgenrot pattern by Herbert Niebling – a charted pattern knitted in the round

Morgenrot pattern by Herbert Niebling – a difficult charted pattern knitted in the round

Not to fear! Easy or hard, I’m going to teach you how to do every kind of lace project in my upcoming class, Effortless Lace.

Over the next few blog posts, you’ll learn about these characteristics in more detail. I’ll also be giving you my recommendations (with beautiful graphics) for great lace patterns to knit at every difficulty level.

Update: Charts aren’t hard!


Update: Lots of knitters replied to today’s post in disagreement about charted knitting patterns being hard.

Thank you for your comments! To clarify, I love charts and think they are the absolute best kind of pattern for lace.

However, easy patterns don’t usually need charts. The lack of a chart often means that a pattern is easy and therefore good for beginners.

Lace patterns that are intermediate or advanced absolutely require a chart.

So the presence of a chart can mean that the pattern itself is complex enough to warrant one.

Charts are great – they make difficult patterns easy to understandHowever, if you don’t know how to read a lace chart, the pattern, no matter how easy it is, will be quite difficult for you. You’ll need to learn to read a chart before you can knit it.

This is like learning to drive a car before you can take a road trip. It’s totally worth it.

I hope this helps clear up my views on charts! I always welcome your comments and questions.

About Liat Gat - Founder

Liat is the founder and video knitting expert at KNITFreedom. If you liked this article, you'll love the tips you learn from her FREE video newsletter. Get it now by subscribing here.
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32 Responses to 4 Characteristics That Make A Lace Pattern Easy Or Hard

  1. Judi says:

    I just need to learn the correct way to do yarn overs in Continental knitting. I seem to not do them properly. I did not know this when I did knit yo and then dropped them on the next row, but in doing a border that required to etc, I found I could never get it right!

  2. Virginia says:

    You are awesome, Liat! Thanks for being such a great and patient teacher. I love how you explain the most basic techniques in such a calm, easy to understand way.

    Virginia

  3. Barb says:

    Also does the pattern have a simple knit or purl row on the “backside” or doe every row include patterning (e.g YOs, SSK,K2Tog).

  4. Anne says:

    You asked for comments on your post. It almost hooked me to try to learn with the dishcloth, so good post. Unfortunately, right now there are just too many things going on in my life for me to concentrate on knitting even the easier things right now. Keep up the good work!

  5. Joyce says:

    I just finished my first lace shawl by following Laura Nelkin in her lace video. Will your lace video have a knit along section for a lace project?

  6. Patricia Walters says:

    I disagree with your conclusion on written versus charted directions. I knit a lot of lace. It may be my favorite knitting challenge. If it doesn’t have charts, I will most likely give the pattern a pass. With charts, it’s easier to visualize what the lace structure should look like and “match up” one row with the next. Matching a stitch (or yarnover) with the stitch or yarnover below it is very difficult with only written directions. Charts have saved me time and time again.

    • jillippi says:

      I COMPLETELY agree.

      I find written instructions much harder to follow.

      When I first encountered Barbara Walker’s charted knitting patterns I thought I had died and gone to heaven

      • Sue says:

        And then I COMPLETELY disagree

        I’ve been knitting lace for the past 10 years and have been using written instruction only. I tried to follow chart instruction and it just went right over my head. Including the book that was advised to me. So, now I’m ready to learn reading charts and have chosen a few easy patterns which I’ve been knitting. I’ve also got an app for my tablet which simplifies things.

        • Sue, I think this is a right brain left brain thing…LOL. We all have different ways of learning. It’s the end result that matters. I ‘m glad that you are open to trying charts again. Let me know how it goes.

    • Diane Taylor says:

      I too find charts much easier to read than written out instructions when it comes to lace. I also don’t find knitting lace in the round much harder than knitting lace flat. For me, the patterns with no knit or purl rows in between the lace rows are much harder to follow, especially if you have to frog a few rows. (This is where learning about lifelines saved me much grief). Finally, now that I have some experience with lace knitting I don’t find it harder to knit with the thinner yarns unless I have ultra smooth needles. I find wood, bamboo or plastic needles make dealing with the thinner yarn much easier than metal ones. As with many things in knitting, personal preference seems to make a difference…what works for me may not work so well for you.

  7. jill says:

    This really helped to simplify the definitions and an easy reference – thank you. I have made several lace shawls and thoroughly enjoyed the process …. I plan to take your class!!

  8. Sue A. says:

    It seems to be different strokes for different folks, does it not? Apparently I started my lace knitting activities somewhere in the middle, use both written and charted directions, didn’t get around to heavier yarns until recently when I’ve been more in a hurry to complete a project or wanted more warmth. Long live differences!! Thank you for your professional opinion ;~D.

  9. tamarque says:

    I find charts so much easier to read than written patterns. Also, other lace knitters, have said the same. Why do charts receive such a bad rep–so undeserved.

    • Tamarque, I think it has to do with how our brains process information. Perhaps a right brain left brain thing! It’s not so much about charts having a bad rep. By the end of the course I am hoping to take away most of that intimidation about charts.

  10. Ruth says:

    I am just thrilled to be part of this.

  11. Hi lovely knitters,

    It seems that I wasn’t as clear as I could have been when talking about lace charts. Please see my update in the post above.

    Thanks!

  12. Nancy says:

    I have knitted lace shawls from charts. I find the patterns with more than 2-4 charts are a challenge. I have never seen an explanation on how to put the puzzle together for patterns with multiple chart sections (6 or more chart sections)

  13. elaine says:

    I love lace ~ and I am learning charts. I tend to follow written instructions, then look at the chart for confirmation…. Can’t wait for your lace class :-)

  14. Elizabeth Mulhall says:

    I am so excited about the lace classes! I have been a knitter for as far back as I can remember (now knitting for grandchildren) but lace has always defeated me. Why? My problem is decreasing – so I wonder if you will be covering this in your lessons? I can do lace all day if it is straight or has decreasing at the end of the row but when I have to reverse the decrease to the beginning of the row, I’m lost. When I knit lace in the very distant past I worked from written instructions when you would be told to “reverse the decreasing” and no instructions. I drove myself off the planet counting but would always somehow end up with the lace pattern “waltzing” a couple of stitches one way or the other. While I could then correct the mistake, it was so demoralising I eventually decided never to enter the world of lace again. Would working from a chart make a difference, I wonder? I would just love to be able to confidently tackle knitting a pretty lace cardigan/bolero for my granddaughter.
    Thank you for your terrific courses – I know that no matter how long I have been knitting, there is always something I can learn. You bring joy and patience to everything you demonstrate. Long may it continue.

  15. Tom Kennedy says:

    Sorry the seminar on lace is delayed and wish Liat safe journey through her current difficulties. I am working on a very difficult (for me) lace project and have developed a technique for dealing with the frustration. I use charts but blow them up, fold them and use on a “Prop it” magnetic base. I also mark the chart where there are long passages between yo to make sure I count correctly. I use one of the magnetic bars to “open” each stitch or series
    across the row so my eye does not get confused and skip something. True it would be easier to memorize each row but I don’t seem able to do it. Lace knitting teaches us a lot – patience, commitment and perseverance. Its also very satisfying and in the end you have a very beautiful object. It helps to take PE breaks – stretch, scream, jump up and down to release any frustration and tension – you will feel it!

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