Lace knitting is still my very, very favorite. It may have a reputation for being complicated or fiddly, but it is also engaging and deeply satisfying to see the stitches twist and pull the fabric into intricate designs. I also love lace knitting because it is economical -I can pick out the most decadent yarn, but one skein will almost always do an entire project so my overall cost is relatively low, regardless of how expensive a yarn I use. My favorite lace yarn is, hands down, Coquette Lace: it is buttery soft, strong from it’s silk content, has a lovely drape and a beautiful light halo, takes color in clear, soft tones, doesn’t shed or pill and is all around a pleasure to knit with. Alpaca is a generally a bit too warm for Oregon, but as a lace weight in an airy knit it becomes much more versatile, providing more warmth than seems possible from such a delicate fabric.
The Perfect Needles?
Even though I have been knitting lace for years, I still found myself struggling when I was knitting the Sugarfrost Infinity Scarf, (shown in colorway Sweet Laura) first with the nupps, which I ended up skipping altogether in favor of tiny seed beads, and then with purling through the back loop. Neither of these techniques are new to me and I felt like it was my needles that were making things difficult. I have always knitted exclusively on wooden needles – first bamboo, then Knit Picks and Knitter’s Pride wooden needles. I have a set of wood Knitter’s Pride interchangeable circulars that I use most of the time and a bunch of random Knit Picks fixed circulars and DPNs. I decided to try a true lace needle with a much sharper tip and see if that helped. I settled on an the Addi Turbo Lace fixed circular, despite my misgiving about knitting with metal needles – something I had hated every time I had tried it. But oh. my. god. it was like night and day. No more trouble with awkward through the back loop lace stitches, and my knitting sped up incredibly. The join was so smooth too, something I had been fighting in most of my other circulars and the stitches slid effortlessly along the needles without being endlessly managed. My knitting has tightened up a lot in the last couple of years after being crazy loose for a couple of years after I switched to knitting continental style. I used to have to go down 2 or 3 needle sizes for everything and I needed the grab of wood to keep me from dropping stitches when my tension control was so poor. But now I have good control and tension and my tight stitches were dragging on my wooden my needles and scraping over the hop of the join and basically had to be forced up and down the needle. I should have switched to metal long ago.
After I finished Sugarfrost it was pretty obvious I was never going back to wood needles, so I started looking into getting a set of interchangeable lace circulars. I was just going to get the Addi Lace interchangeables since I was so happy with the Addi fixed circular I had tried, but when I looked closer at the join of the Addi interchangeables I did not think I was going to like the rather extreme hop. I finally settled on the ChiaoGoo Twist Red Lace Interchangeable complete set (Amazon affiliate link! If you purchase the needles through this link I get a small commission) and I have to say, they are amazing – the perfect needles for me. I think I have been knitting long enough to get when kind of a knitter I am now. I will never be a sock knitter. I have always thought I would be (someday, when the time is right?), since I only wear wool socks and all, but no. I just don’t want to knit socks, and I never want to knit with utilitarian yarns, or yarns with nylon in them. It just isn’t going to happen. I knit lace and cables, or my favorite, lace with cables. I love those complicated Japanese heavy cable-y laces with the awful wrong side lace rows. When I knit, I always have a chart in front of me the entire time (I could not live without my Iphone 6+ and my Jknit Lite app). I mostly knit shawls, scarves, cardigans and sweaters and the occasional hat and gloves. I never knit garter stitch, I have an almost pathological aversion to it – if a pattern has it, I change it to seed stitch. Every single yarn I knit has silk in it, and most have cashmere too. I rarely knit with anything heavier than fingering weight. I don’t prefer superwash, although I will tolerate it if there is enough silk and/or cashmere in the blend. I will never magic loop and I will rarely use DPN’s – as a matter of fact, I will actually suffer through knitting cuffs and gloves with my size 0 8″ circulars with the tiny toothpicks for needles to avoid using DPNs. So there you have it, all of my knitting preferences, hang ups and obsessions. So for me, the ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles are fantastic. I love the straight, heavy red cables (but I get why magic loopers might hate them), the join is completely smooth, the brushed stainless is fast but still with just a little bit of grab for all those slick yarns I knit, and the tips are sharp! Sharper even than the Addi Lace tips and super accurate for those fussy K7TBL. The set is very complete with sizes 2-15, 3 cable lengths in 2 diameters (and you can join cables to make longer cables) and a really well made fabric case (with labeled needle slots!!) I got the 5″ tips and a few extra super long cables for shawls and I will get the small set of 4″ tips for hats later on. I have found that I love them so much that I even ordered one size of DPN’s when I was faced with having to go back to my bamboo needles to do the sleeves on a kids sweater and I suspect I will end up ordering the entire set of DPN’s at some point. I have now knitted lace through aran weight yarn with them, including a softly plied Dk single, and have no desire to use any other needles. The stiletto tips are for lace, but have found that I prefer the precision of pointy tips no matter what I am knitting (although I did have to pay attention to keep from splitting the DK single at times). I should mention that I am not affiliated with ChiaoGoo or anything like that, and I paid for my set of needles through Amazon. I just really, really love them.
The move to Fort Wayne is getting closer and closer and I am dyeing the last of my yarn this week before I start packing next week. The next yarn release will be on April 21st just as I arrive in Fort Wayne and then there will probably be a down week as I get set back up to start dyeing again. I can’t say the prospect of driving a 26′ truck across the country with just my 4 year old, dog and cat isn’t a slightly stressful one, but I keep telling myself that it will be a distant memory soon. I have lived in Oregon my entire life, so to say the change is going to be big is an understatement. As I am typing this is it is 80 degrees here in Oregon and my husband is delivering mail in Fort Wayne in intermittent snow. We haven’t had snow in our part of Oregon for years. I think it will be a fantastic adventure and I can’t wait to explore our new city (and find a knitting group!)