February 28th, 2012

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – How to Use a Lifeline

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Have you ever dropped a stitch when knitting lace?

Do you get lost in your lace patterns? Today’s tip is one you don’t want to miss.

When knitting lace, it can be a big pain trying to fix mistakes when yarn overs are involved. Sometimes you might even find that you get so lost or confused in your lace pattern that it seems easier to just frog the whole project and start over.

But if you use a lifeline, or safety line in your knitting, it can take away a lot of the stress and frustration of mistakes. A lifeline is a way of marking a particular point in your knitting where you can easily rip back to in case you make a mistake. Think of it as knitting insurance.

This video shows you how to insert a lifeline in your knitting and how to rip back to a lifeline if needed.

Use thin, smooth yarn in a contrasting color for lifelines. I like to use crochet thread or cotton weaving yarns. But in a pinch, dental floss also works really well. I mostly use a lifeline in lace knitting, placing it in the last repeat of my pattern. But you can use a lifeline in any knitting project such as cable work or other complicated stitch patterns.

Some knitting needles (Addi Lace Click Long Tips and Knitter’s Pride Interchangeable Needles) even include a hole or slot where you can thread a lifeline through. You’re able to then insert a lifeline into a row as you knit, saving you the step of threading a lifeline through your stitches with a tapestry needle.

If you knit with interchangeable knitting needles, you could use a spare cable as your lifeline. After knitting the row where you want a lifeline placed, replace the needle tips with end caps or stoppers. Connect the needle tips onto a new cable and continue knitting, leaving the old cable in your project as a lifeline.

Lifelines make lace knitting much more fun and relaxing for me. How have lifelines saved your knitting? Share your lifeline tips and stories in the comments.

Happy Knitting!


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12 Responses to “Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – How to Use a Lifeline”

  1. Angie Nash-Beaudette Says:

    What a wonderful tip.  Thank you.

  2. Sara MacKenzie Says:

    Thanks for the spare cable tip- I would have never thought of that.  

  3. Linda Shelhamer Says:

    I teach knitting classes at my lys.  I showed students how to put in a life line on one of my projects.  A few weeks later, somehow the whole thing got pulled off the needles.  It wasn’t a hard lace project, but I doubt I could have picked it back up without the lifeline.  I was 90% done with a shawl when I put the lifeline in.  Now I love lifelines. 

  4. Dena Childs Says:

    Another good example of why to use a lifeline. I’ve pulled my needles out of my project more than once.

  5. Suzanne Says:

    When knitting a cable pattern, put the lifeline in the row where you executed the cable stitch, not the row where you knit the plain stitch.

    The more complex the pattern, the more often you want to put in a life line.

    Life lines cost you a little time, but they can save you hours.

  6. Pisidmr Says:

    This is absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much. You have just saved my knitting-lace-life!

  7. Progetto per il mese di Maggio 2012 - Pagina 11 Says:

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  8. Hadley Says:

    I have never heard of this, but this is far and away one of the best knitting tips I have come upon… especially as I am, right this minute, doing my first bit of serious lace work ever!

  9. Valerie Hebert Says:

    I am fine with cables, but I am starting to try lace patterns. I can’t say how many I have ripped out. What a great idea!

  10. Connie Johnson VanKleeck Says:

    I have been so frustrated in the past trying to knit lace. This time I am faithfully using a lifeline and it’s going so well! I’m much more relaxed about it. I’m using dental floss because it stays put very nicely. From now on, I won’t attempt lace without a lifeline!

  11. Cindy Herington Says:

    I use an 1/8″ satin ribbon for a lifeline – not only do needles not get caught in it, but it doesn’t detract from the beauty of the work. Its stiff, rectangular shape also allows for gaps so that stitches are easily picked up.

  12. bannockbaby Says:

    Hi there,

    I’ve shared your blogpost and the picture for it in a tips discussion board on our Ravelry site. If you would like me to take this down, please let me know, I don’t want to step on any toes!

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