Saturday, September 21, 2013

I'll Use My Lifeline

I've had a bit of a cold so have been curled up on my couch knitting yesterday and this morning.  I am taking a class through Craftsy called Mastering Lace Shawls, taught by Laura Nelkin.  I am a relatively self-taught knitter; I watched my grandmothers knit and crochet as a child but was never taught by them.  When I started knitting I had a general idea of how to create certain stitches. I then resorted to "How to Knit" books and a couple of friends that I met while taking the OHS Spinning Certificate program.  After rooming together for 8 days every summer for 6 years you can really pick up a lot of tips.  Today, however, I added the most valuable trick to my knitting toolbox.  After all the times that I have had to rip out and start again, why did no one ever teach me about the LIFELINE?

If you, like me, have never heard of a lifeline, this is what it is....

See that white strand of yarn through my knitting.  That is the lifeline.  Using a contrasting yarn and tapestry needle. thread the yarn through your stitches after finishing your purl row (edit: ws row). Cut your (lifeline) yarn larger than your work, keeping in mind that your work will be larger when blocking (right now my shawl looks horrible but when I stretch it out...beautiful!!!...I know there is hope once it is blocked). So....why the lifeline is important....

Well, somehow I messed up while tinking to get back to an error in my knitting.  On my last repeat, I had one too many stitches. I went back and fixed it then got back to the last repeat and was one stitch short (I knew I should have stopped the row before for a break!). Then I saw it...the dropped stitch and chaos following in its path. After "muttering" loudly for a while I then remembered that Laura gave us that lifeline.  I can easily pull my work back to that row and start again from there rather than risking dropping more stitches and losing everything.  

Ta-da...first I removed my needles from the messed up work (sorry about  the picture, it is just loosely draped over my knee). Then I picked up all my stitches along my lifeline (without removing the lifeline).  Once I closed my eyes was ready, I simply started winding my yarn back onto the ball, unraveling my work back to the lifeline holding my breath the entire time, completely confident that I would not lose all of my hard work. 

I am ready to knit again...after a cup of peppermint tea.  This time though...I'm adding a second lifeline up in that section where I messed up so I don't lose so much.

I would have appreciated knowing this on my last shawl...around the 5th time that I pulled it all out.  Now that I know this trick, I will forever be using it!

If you are interested in the Mastering Lace Shawls class, I do believe their 75% off sale ends tonight.  Laura is a fantastic instructor and she really takes the time to break down the steps to make it an enjoyable knitting experience.  I love that she knits along with you (and you can pause her because she is a much faster knitter than I am...I am now intrigued with Continental knitting!)

Pattern: Skywalker
Designer: Laura Nelkin
Yarn: Filisilk (70% Merino/30% Silk) made in Germany (my mom brought me 3 skeins from Electrictree Yarns in Kamloops, BC)
Needles: 4.5 mm Clover bamboo circular 

Happy Stitching


  1. Brilliant Teresa - I have lost a lot a rows trying to get back to a place and pick up all the stitches. I was taught by my mother who learned during the war. I spent my university evenings when I wasn't studying making Lopi sweaters. I made one for my husband when we were married only to find out that he is deathly allergic to wool - so I gave it a way. Your project looks so complex and beautiful...

    1. My very first project was a knit sweater that I made for my daughter when she was a toddler. I had never knit before and had no one to show me. lol Made it with my first handspun yarn. lol There was a hand print pattern in the middle of the sweater. hahaha What was I thinking? Surprising, it fit her. Note to self: if your husband comes over to our place some day don't take him to my basement!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience with the lifeline method Teresa! I'm a self-taught knitter too, and fairly new at it. I had heard others on blogs say they used a lifeline, but really didn't know how to do it. I'll be sure to add this to my next shawl. I love the color of the shawl you are now working - lovely!!!

    1. just lost my reply...let me try again...
      Thanks Teresa! Note that I put an edit in saying to use the wrong side. Originally I said purl row (because that is what I am doing on my pattern). I'm not sure that it would make a difference really. Hopefully it makes sense. It is a beautiful shade of orange. I will post pictures when I finish or if I come across something else that I mess up/find brilliant.


I always love to hear what you think about what I am working on. Tell me about what you are working on or have been inspired to start (...or pull out to finish).