How to Use a Lifeline

Lifelines are so helpful in lace knitting.  When you make a mistake in lace, it is difficult to pull out your work and not lose stitches.  Lace usually contains a lot of yarn overs, and these can be easily lost when pulling out stitches.  Enter the lifeline!  Using a lifeline is so simple, and yet can save you so much time in the long run.  Here’s how you place a lifeline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pick a smooth contrasting yarn to use.  You can also use sewing thread or plain dental floss.  Thread the yarn on to a tapestry needle.  Then use the tapestry needle to thread the lifeline yarn through all your live stitches.  It is easier to thread the stitches over the cord section of your circular needle because the cord is thinner and allows more space for the tapestry needle to slide through.

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure you DO NOT put the lifeline through your stitch markers.  Thread the lifeline around the stitch markers.  If you put the lifeline through the stitch markers, they will become “stuck” in the lifeline row and will not move up each row with your knitting.

Then mark on your chart or pattern where you have placed a lifeline.  If you find a mistake that cannot be easily fixed, you can pull back to the last lifeline row and know exactly where you are.  You can also be secure that you not lost any stitches.

 

If you happen to have a lace interchangeable needle set, such as the Addi Lace set, the cords contain a small eyelet into which you can thread a lifeline.  Then you can just knit your row like normal, and the lifeline will be placed automatically.  However, you may want to use removable stitch markers, so the stitch markers can be moved from the lifeline and up to the next working row.

 

 

I like these removable stitch markers that look and function like a safety pin.

Transformed, by Felting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the process of felting because your work is literally transformed in the washer.  After felting, your piece is smaller in size, thicker and has a tighter weave.  Do you ever wonder what is actually taking place in the washer?

Felting works on animal fibers that have tiny scales.  Wool is the classic fiber used for felting.  When you get the piece wet, the scales open up slightly.  Then, when you apply heat and agitation, the scales irreversibly bind the fibers together.  Superwash wool has been treated to prevent the felting process.  Therefore, if your goal is felting, you want to avoid superwash products.

So how exactly do you felt?

I place my finished object in a lingerie bag.  I put it in the washer with a pair of old jeans.  The jeans add additional agitation to help the felting process.  You can also use a tennis ball for this purpose.  Then I run my washer with hot water and high agitation, checking the item frequently until it has felted  adequately.  I then roll up my item in a towel to collect most of the moisture, then set it out to dry.  For tote bags, I place polyester fiberfill in a plastic grocery bag and place the filled plastic grocery bag inside the tote bag.  Then I set the tote bag out to dry overnight.   I add or remove fiberfill as needed until my tote bag assumes the shape I want.   And Voila! I have a beautiful, sturdy felted piece.

When planning to make a felted piece, you need to think about shrinkage.  A felted gauge swatch is critical.  Most felted pieces will shrink more in height than width.  Also, the looser the texture of your piece, the more mobile the fibers are, and the more felting that will take place.  If you are making a flat piece, you can always knit bigger, and the cut out the final shape after felting.

Once you start felting, you may not be able to stop.  It is such a thrill to see your piece transformed in the felting process.  If you havent’ tried felting, go ahead, give it a try!