Next Lace class is tomorrow! But in the meantime…

Your questions are answered!

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be posting the videos for Demystifying Lace, class 2. This class will be all about how to prepare and handle the yarn, and it’ll be in three segments. It’s a long one this time!

Before then, I wanted to go over some questions that have been in the comments. This class has had such a great response that I’ve been answering the questions in emails – if you asked a question on the last class post, check your email! I get pretty confused trying to read through a thread of comments that long to find answers, and I don’t expect you to wade through either 🙂

But, for the benefit of everyone here, these are some of the questions I recieved in the comments and my answers to them!

Elenor asked:
Q: I have a question about blocking. When you block an object and then wash it for
the first time, do you have to block it on the blocking boards again or just
spread it out to dry like normal?

A: With lace, you pretty much have to block it every time
you wash it. If you just want to make it ‘crisp’ after a few uses, spread it out
over the bed or floor and mist it lightly with plain water. smooth out any lumpy
spots, and use a little more water on areas that need more help. This will help
maintain the shape without having to fully block the piece again!  

Merlarogue asked:
Q: I just adore lace yarn and lace knitting! I have done a few worsted-weight
shawls, and I have used a lot of acrylic yarn, so I am somewhat less familiar
with the properties of wool, alpaca and silk. If you could clarify a bit what
the tendencies of these different yarns are and what they mean for lace projects
and warmer wear(such as gloves), that would help out tremendously!

A: I’m going to cover this a little in the next lesson. In
general, animal fibers are much warmer (technically, more insulating) than
synthetic or plant fibers. The reason is the structure of the fiber. Wool is a
hollow fiber, which makes it both light and insulating. After all, it’s the air
between fibers that actually provides the insulation! Alpaca fiber is hair,
which means it’s solid. It’s also incredibly fine – far finer than human hair or
most wool. This makes it soft and very strong. It makes a wonderfully warm yarn.
Silk, though a protein fiber, is not as insulating. It can be extremely
lightweight and is great on its own for warm weather shawls. Mix a little wool
in there, and it gets warmer. The reason that, for the most part, lace yarns are
protein fiber is that the lace will block and maintain its shape. Wool will also
hold 30% of its weight in water before it feels wet, and when fully saturated
will still insulate because of the hollow fiber. It’s the best for

That’s a basic primer; for the most part, our lace
yarns are winter weight. But it really depends on the pattern. Since it’s the
air that is insulating, not the fiber itself, lace that traps a lot of air will
be warmer. Just think of those old granny square afghans – all those holes, and
it was still warm!

Carol asked:
Q: Kerin – I’m working on a string shopping bag using a rather heavy blue cotton
yarn that feels a little like string. I’m using a “diagonal eyelets” pattern
that is made up of YO K2tog’s that are offset by one stitch, with every other
row being a knit row. The pattern slants in one direction. This needs to be a
rectangle but I can already see that it wants to pull to one side. Do you think
it will work? I’ve already knit about five inches in length and don’t want to
pull it out and start over.

A: If all of the stitches skew to one side, eventually
they’ll end up coming back around to the other side – creating the spiraling
appearance of the pattern. Once the whole thing is done it should even out. 🙂
Hopefully that helps; this is just coming from my experience with diagonal
eyelet patterns.  

Jennifer asked:
Q: My only question is the gauge really critical? I have a hard time getting the
gauge right on any project I work on, I am always 1-3 stitches off no matter
what size of needles I use. I would eventually get the number of rows per inch
right but would still be 1-3 stitch off in the number of stitches per inch, so I
would just end up using the needles that I got the number of rows per inch
right. Yet the garment still ends up too big or small.

A:Gauge is absolutely not critical! All that matters is
that you can block the piece to the proper size. As long as you can get there,
you’re fine. Measuring the gauge beforehand is like checking your spedometer
when you’re parked – it’s not going to tell you much about the trip! 😉
Obviously, if you know that you usually need to go up or down a needle size for
projects, do so for lace as well. It should block out just fine.

Irene asked:
Q:Why is all the lace on the KP website listed as 440 yds/50 grams if they are all
different wpi’s? I would have expected to see different yardages/gram with
different wpi.

A: I’m covering this in the next video, because I have a
feeling you’re not the only one with this question! For consistency’s sake, we
like to have all of our yarns of the same weight have the same yardage. This
helps in yarn substitutions and to make price comparisons easier. We basically
tell our manufacturers to create a yarn with a specific yardage and weight – how
they spin it and make it work is a bit of a mystery to me, but they do it! I
know that certain fibers have different weights; 50 grams of alpaca will be less
fiber by volume than 50 grams of sheep’s wool, and will make a finer yarn. Silk
can be even lighter (It depends on the silk!). I’ll go into a little more depth
in the video – but I hope this answers your

Panhandle Jane asked:
Q: The WIP information was very helpful. Wouldn’t it be useful to include that
information in the yarn description on the web site and in the catalogs?

A: This is a really good idea – I don’t know why we hadn’t
thought of that before. We’ll see about getting the info up on the


Keep the questions coming – it’s been one heck of a week here, so I’m sorry if it’s taken me a little while to get back to everyone. 🙂 I’ll still answer questions as they come – and I’m incorporating a lot of the answers into my videos. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that I can’t really answer specific questions about patterns – general is ok, though! Also, all of these answers are open to discussion. I have a pretty relaxed attitude when it comes to knitting (believe it or not), and tend to say ‘don’t worry about it!’ I certainly welcome other answers and opinions – we can all learn from each other!

After all this, I’m thinking it might be about time for me to dig out the four skeins of Alpaca Cloud in Tidepool Heather I’d bought long before I worked here. I feel a shawl coming on. 🙂

See you tomorrow!