I have been knitting my largest and most complicated to lace project to date: Swallowtail Shawl from Fall 2006 Interweave Knits. It is not so much that it is very difficult, but just that I did not do any research beyond reading (well skimming, if we are going to be honest and I guess I will since you can't hunt me down and shame me in the streets) the pattern before casting on. I ran into many or really one difficulty. My count was off repeatedly and it was extremely vexing (was watching Pride and Prejudice last night). So I decided to dig out my lecture series and dust it off with Volume 2 Lace Tips
- Stitch Markers- Have many kinds of stitch markers handy and test them with your yarn for EACH PROJECT. Example: I am knitting the swallowtail with mohair (Kid Seta to be specific) and it is very fine. I am using jump rings that I fashioned into my very own highly fashionable stitch markers (for purchase here should anyone be interested). unfortunately as stunning as they may be, the mohair slips through the jump ring and thus making it appear as though my count is off. I now use a split ring stitch marker, as plain as it is, the ends over lap leaving no space for mohair to slip through. My stitch markers so work just fine for every other yarn I have knit with successfully.
- Life Lines- If you are knitting lace without a life line you are either very brave, have too much time on your hands, are ignorant (no shame in that, obviously you recognize this fault and have decided to continue reading) or are an idiot. If you are an idiot, I am sorry but I am sure you are already aware of this by the fact that you commonly say "HA HA Watch this" before every disaster and probably should not be using slightly sharp wooden sticks except to skewer meat. Back to the topic. I love my life lines and am so paranoid (or is it tired to starting over 5 times) that I double up. I will knit one repeat, weave in my life line, knit another repeat and then weave in another. I do not take out the first and just move it up. I usually have 2 just in case I made a mistake and it has managed to evade my notice and climb up 2 repeats. I am not taking any chances, I like to start new projects, not old.
- Needles- See lecture series Vol 1 for further details on needle specifics. Make sure you pick the right needles for your project. Take in to consideration the size the project will grown to be and the weight. If you are knitting with, say, mohair you will only need to take into mind the size and pick your length of needle or cable according to you preference. But if you are using a thicker fiber you also need to consider how heavy your project will become and probably want to consider a cable needle to distribute this weight to your lap instead of your wrists. Another yarn/needle combo you want to consider is slippery-ness and delicacy of the fiber. If the fiber is very delicate, like mohair or silk, than you might not want to trust you wood needles. As smooth as they may feel, there could be a rough spot that you do not find until you are 80 gillion rows into your project and it has caused a minor turning into major hiccup. Also, you want to reduce the chances of dropped stitches as much as possible so make that swatch and go with your gut.
- Be confident. it is only knitting, you can rip it out. It is for fun and relaxing, no use stressing over it. How much are you really going to want to wear a shawl with bad memories. If it is too difficult just put it down and come back when you have more experience. If that is 2 weeks or 20 years. No shame in passing it down. Hey wouldn't you love to finish a project your mother or grandmother had started. Even better if you finished something they considered over their heads. Then you can wear it around and boast. Perhaps you can make a custom tag for it that says "In your face Mom/ Grandmom". Just a suggestion.