You’ve seen the yarns. The beautiful, cobweb-thin strands that seem to float of their own accord and crochet or knit into the most exquisite fabrics. If you’re anything like us, you’ve also picked them up, squished them, enjoyed the extra special fibers, and then been too intimidated to try working with them. Luckily, we’ve learned that lace weight yarns don’t have to be so scary!
Here are some tips, tricks, reminders and suggestions that we hope make working with lace weight yarn less intimidating!
Double the fun! A benefit of lace weight yarn is that there are typically many more yards per skein than other weights. Use this to your advantage and hold two strands together! Most lace weights held double will give you something resembling a sport weight, with some closer to a fingering and some upwards of a DK. Take the opportunity to get used to managing the yarn before you take it out for a solo spin!
Find a good pairing. On the topic of yarn held double, pairing a lace weight with another thicker yarn is popular and practical! For example, combining the luxury of a lace weight mohair with a durable merino nylon blend will create a dreamy fabric for garments that knits up quicker than you’d think!
Use the right needles or hooks. Have you noticed that there are quite a few patterns that use larger needles with thinner yarns? This helps create that gauzy fabric many lace makers are looking for, and eliminates the challenge of holding tiny hooks and needles! Pointier needles and hooks will make your life much easier by allowing you to get into each tiny stitch.
Don’t forget about fiber content! Mohair is fabulous, but it’s grippy. If you’re going to be frogging or anticipate making swatches you’ll eventually frog, mohair will be a nightmare. Silk is going to be slick and will slide around on a metal hook or needle. Think about the fibers and the tools you’re using (as we should do on a regular basis) and don’t give yourself any additional reasons to stress!
Swatch, swatch, swatch. Don’t feel obligated to jump into the deep end! Work as many swatches as it takes to feel comfortable managing the yarn. Try out different hooks and needles to find what’s comfortable for you. Starting with a stockinette or single crochet swatch (or any stitch you’re confident in!) will allow you to get the feel of the yarn before you attempt to swatch any other stitch pattern!
Move into the light. Working in a well lit environment will help you avoid eye strain and frustration. Using lighter colors will also allow you to better see your stitches. If the yarn is nice and bright with a bit of contrast from your needles, all the better!
Focus on the pattern. Yes, we do mean you should work on your project when you’re able to take your time and focus - at least to start out with - but also take some time to pick the “right” pattern. Anytime you’re learning or working with something new, it’s a good idea to manage your workload (and expectations!). If you’re anxious about the yarn, it may not be the best time to learn six new stitches and how to read a chart. Or maybe you do learn best that way! The key is setting yourself up for success with a pattern you will want to work on and will not deter you by being too challenging.
So, do you think you’ll consider working with lace weight yarn? Lace lovers, what would you add to this list? Let’s get more suggestions going in the comments below!