I have always wanted to knit a light weight sweater in lace yarn (also known as superfine size 0) but the problem is that I have never knitted with such a thin yarn before. I mean, this yarn is not very far from sewing thread but it looks lovely after it is blocked .
According to the Craft and Yarn Council of America, lace weight yarns are usually knitted or crocheted on larger needles and hooks to create lacy, openwork patterns. Accordingly, a gauge range is difficult to determine. Always follow the gauge stated in your pattern.
I am not knitting an open work pattern, just plain Stockinette stitch but I need to make sure the sweater fits and follow the gauge stated in the pattern. After several attempts to start this project, I started knitting swatches. I went from size US 3 to size US 6. The swatch with size 6 didn't give me the correct gauge. So I went ahead and knitted another swatch with size US 4. I crossed my fingers and kept going.
I felt much better after reading a great article about gauge published in Knitty where row gauge is discussed in details. See steps below. Basically, if you don't get the number of rows per inch like the original pattern, you can increase or decrease extra rows doing the following:
- Figure out how many rows the pattern instructions cover.
- Calculate the corresponding length (in inches or centimeters) according to the pattern.
- Convert this to the number of rows in your own row gauge and calculate how many more (or fewer) rows you'll need to knit.
- Sneak in (or subtract) these rows in the original instructions.
Lace yarn single plied is thin and could be flimsy to manage. You need to control your tension and try to keep your stitches even because you don't want to end with big stitches that look like yarn overs. It is very easy to miss a knit stitch if you are not careful. As you can see below, I got a few dropped stitches in my swatches.
The following gauge swatches look very similar but they each have a slight difference.
Here is an example with size US 3 needles. The fabric looks nice but I didn't get the correct gauge. The yarn I am working with is the Anzula Wash My Lace in 100% merino wool.
Look at the last swatch in size US 4 needles. The fabric is smooth and even. It was easier to maintain an even gauge and nice looking stitches. The trick is not to knit too loose because then the stockinettte stitch looks very open and without body and texture.
The pattern calls for needle size US6 at 24 stitches and 36 rows per 4 inches. I will continue with size US 4 and hope for the best. Luckily, this is not a fitted sweater and the pattern could be easily adjusted.
Getting the correct gauge and knitting swatches is not how I want use my precious time but I guess it makes sense to knit the swatch and get the correct gauge and not feel sorry later.
This is a lovely sweater that is going to take me forever to finish. I will get it done eventually- probably in 2018 but I am not rushing. I am learning how to knit with lace yarn. One thing for sure, I will get tons of hours of knitting considering there are over 900 yards per skein and I plan to use about 1100 yards.
I will keep you updated of my progress but in the meantime,