Special thanks to Mark Rougeux for this guest blog post.
Let’s say you have started a project that has a few new stitches in it about which you aren’t quite sure. I know I have done that many times just to challenge myself. Adding a lifeline to your knitting is a very easy way of ensuring that what you have knit perfectly, won’t have to be ripped out because later on down the length of a sleeve, or a hat, or a scarf, you discover you have dropped a stitch, forgot to increase or decrease, or some other error that you made because you were watching a good movie while knitting. Yep, we’ve all been there.
The easiest way is to simply thread some thin, slippery yarn, usually a bit smaller gauge than what you are using for this project, through the current live loops on your knitting needle with a blunt darning needle. If I am using a circular needle, I like to slide as many stitches as I can onto the cable, so that threading the yarn into the live loops is easier to manage. Actually the flat ribbon dental floss works very well too as it slides very easily when you need to pull it out. The minty fresh scent comes out in the wash.
There’s a neat trick with stockinette stitch that you can do so you don’t want to go too far when ripping out a section. Before you begin ripping, identify the row where you want to stop, usually just before the error you are fixing. Using a blunt darning needle and your yarn or floss, you can pick up either leg of the V (or chevron) that is made with each stitch. Just make sure that you are picking up the same leg of the chevron each time. For example, if you pick up the right-hand leg of the stitch for the first stitch, then you will need to pick up the right-hand leg of all the remaining stitches. This takes a bit of practice and a good light source, especially if you are working with darker, smaller gauges of yarn.
There are also circular needles on the market that have holes in the cable that attaches to the needle. You simply slide your lifeline yarn into the eye of the cord and knit away as usual. Once you have a round or row done, you have your lifeline in place.
One thing you should be very careful of is no matter which method you choose, when threading the lifeline through your stitches, make sure you don’t split the yarn with the needle and run your lifeline through a piece of yarn. It makes pulling it out more tedious and you may not get the desired result.
Keep in mind that the first and last stitch may be a bit hard to find, but it’s there. Count your stitches so you don’t overlook them.
Lifelines are great when trying a new stitch. If it is a disaster, just rip back to the lifeline and try again.
What other sorts of tips and tricks would you like to see on the blog?