Lesson 8 – Learn to Knit Lace and Customize a Shawl Pattern

This is a great lesson that lets you practice how to knit lace and also learn how to customize a pattern while knitting the beautiful Fall Leaves Shawl. The lace is a four-row repeat, which creates a nice rhythm once you get used to the flow. A combination of yarn overs, SSKs, and K2Togs create the lace. Here are a few tips and tricks to set you up for success:

  • Start with a swatch – While I’m always in favor of knitting a swatch, it’s particularly helpful on this project. The first benefit is you get to practice the lace pattern so it’s familiar before you start your shawl. And second, you can test the needle size with your yarn to make sure the fabric flows like you want. The pattern page describes how to knit the swatch and you can knit along with the demonstration video linked below.  
  • Stitch markers – I always put stitch markers in between the repeats of the lace, which help me make sure I’m not missing stitches. If I get to the next stitch marker exactly after I’ve finished my last stitch of the pattern, I’m usually in good shape. 
  • Count on the purl side – If you’re going to have issues with this pattern, it will likely be in forgetting a yarn over. Leaving out a yarn over means when you come back to knit the next row of lace, you’ll be one stitch short. A good way to handle that and keep it from being a big problem is to count the stitches in between the stitch markers when doing the purl row – there should always be 7 stitches in between the stitch markers for the lace section. If you forgot the yarn over and only have 6 stitches, the video linked below that shows how to get started with the lace pattern demonstrates how to pick up a stitch without having to rip back your work. 
  • Lifeline – Until you get proficient with the pattern, you might consider using a lifeline each time you start the four row repeat. That way you can save your work and easily get going again, confident you haven’t lost any stitches. 
  • Blocking – Lace always opens up and smooths itself out when you block it, so don’t skip that step when knitting this shawl. You can see an easy comparison in the photo at the top of the page. The white swatch has not yet been blocked whereas the smooth finished rust colored shawl has been blocked; you can see how much clearer the lace pattern becomes after blocking.
  • Customize the size – A rectangular shawl with a repeated lace pattern like this is great for customizing because it’s easy to adjust things like how wide you want the borders, and how wide and long you want the finished shawl to be. All the instructions (including the math) for how to customize your shawl are included on the pattern page. 
  • Solid colors – A variegated yarn will not work with lace, you’ll just lose the pattern. See below for a comparison. The two samples below were knit with the exact same lace pattern for this shawl, but you can’t even see the pattern with the variegated yarn on the left. So it’s best to choose a yarn with a solid color or only a very slight color shift. 
Variegated yarn example
Solid color yarn example

Materials

Here’s everything you will need to knit your shawl:

  • Yarn in either a solid or semi-solid color. You will need 600-800 yards of a medium (worsted or aran) weight yarn or 800-1000 yards of a DK weight yarn depending on how big you want to make your shawl.
  • 24” circular needles in the size that allows your lace to drape the way you like. I suggest starting with the needle size recommended with the yarn you choose, or size US 8 for medium yarn and size US 6 for DK. 
  • I also suggest needles 1mm larger than the size you use for the main body of the shawl for both for the cast on and bind off.
  • 12 or so stitch markers to place between each repeat of the lace pattern.

Getting Started with Your Shawl

To knit the lace in the Fall Leaves Shawl, start by reviewing the following:

Knit Along

Now that you understand all the techniques, download the pattern and watch the video on the pattern page that walks you through how to knit the swatch and get started with your shawl. You can knit along to master the lace work of the shawl.

Feel free to post a question in the comment section or drop me an email. Happy knitting!

Ready for More Practice?

The Stone Point Poncho is another great lace pattern. Or check out all the available knitting lessons.

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