I’m no gecko, but I’m going to tell you how you can save millions (of hours) by subscribing to the Lifeline policy of knitting.  The lifeline is essentially scrap yarn threaded through a row of your work.  It creates a stopping point if you ever (hopefully not) have to rip back rows of knitting to fix a mistake.  It’s like one super-duper long stitch holder.

I’ve only just discovered this technique because I wanted to see how big my lace shawl was getting.  After finishing 5 pattern repeats of the second chart, I have calculated that I have 1056(!) stitches currently on my needle.  When I’m done with two more repeats and finish chart 3, I will have a grand total of 1380 stitches.  That’s a buttload of stitches.  A buttload.

So far, I’ve been really lucky.  I haven’t made any mistakes that would require me to rip out rows and rows of knitted lace.  But, since I know that I have just jinxed myself into making a terrible mistake, and more importantly, because I want to lay out the shawl to see how big it is, I decided it was high time to put in a lifeline.  Turns out it’s really easy and really beneficial.  You should do it.  Or don’t.  Whatever.   But don’t blame me when you realize that ripped out rows of lace eats away at your soul.  Or so I’ve heard.

Here’s what you need:

  1. Tapestry needle (or interchangeable circular needles of the same size you’re working with)
  2. Scrap yarn/dental floss (srsly)

Thread the tapestry needle with your scrap yarn or dental floss.  It’s best to use a contrasting color and yarn that is a finer thickness than your work.  This makes it easier to see and thread through the stitches.  You can put the lifeline at any point in your work, but unless you have a good log of what you’re doing, it’s a good idea to add it at the beginning or end of a pattern repeat.

Carefully thread the tapestry needle through the front of the stitches without snagging them or threading through any stitch markers.  If you have interchangeable needles, Knit Picks has a quick tutorial on how to add a lifeline.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Note: thread enough yarn through the work, so that if the knitted work is stretched out, the lifeline won’t drop off any stitches.  Which reminds me that the ends of the lifeline should be secured somehow.  Tying the ends to a stitch marker or safety pin should do the trick.

Overall, adding a lifeline is easy, though time-consuming.  Thus is the nature of good insurance, I suppose.  Oh, and how big was my shawl exactly?  21″ square.  So rough estimation puts the end result at about 32″.  Is that big enough for a small lady?  Sigh…Maybe one more tedious pattern repeat.

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