I've learned a tough lesson recently about lifelines, specifically I mean life lines in your knitting. I have been working on the LeStrange Cloak from the Unofficial Harry Potter knits book, using my own hand-spun dark brown llama lace weight yarn. The body of the sweater is knitted bottom up with 4 repeats of a 42 row lace chart with lots of knit two and knit three togethers, single and double yarn overs. It's beautiful lace, or it will be when I block it. I was on the 1st repeat after the armhole separation, knitting all three sections at once, halfway through the 5th total repeat of that endless lace chart.
Then the unthinkable happened. The cable on my 3.25mm fixed circular needle from KnitPicks pulled loose and came out and I didn't notice until I was through one side of the front and most of the back of the sweater. Horrors! I surveyed the damage and it was extensive. I sent off a panicked note to KnitPicks who warrants their needles for life. But getting another needle was the easy part. I had a spare and although it had a slight imperfection that made it catch my stitches, I got it out and got to work.
Anyone who knits lace can tell you how hard it is to pick up stitches on a lace piece. And I've done it many times before, but usually on socks or something smaller. Problem 1: the yarn is SO DARK. It's hard to see. Problem 2: It's only a two ply and very thin. It also is fuzzy and tends to stick together a little bit. ARGHHH! Problem 3: Oh the lace, all the stitches that twist and turn and are pulled into each other in a lovely lace design just go crazy when you release them from their bonds. The yarn overs disappear, the knit togethers pull apart and then the piece opens up and loses it's shape. Oh man...
I wish I had put in a life line....
Life lines in knitting are a fail safe measure, kind of like a safety belt when you drive. If you have an accident, jump up suddenly, have a needle break or the cat decides to rearrange your knitting, the life line will get you up and going in less time than if you don't have one. My interchangeable KnitPicks needles have a little hole to allow you to effortlessly string a life line while you are knitting, but I was using a fixed cable needle and I do admit I RARELY thread a life line even with the nice hole for it. Or I never used to. If there is no nice hole, you have to take a needle and some slick cotton thread, preferably a contrasting color, and thread it through each stitch on the needle. Then you have to knit around it which is a bit of a pain unless it's fairly thin. And don't put it through your stitch markers or you'll have bigger issues. But it's worth it, oh yes. And this is why:
I spent probably 8 hours, actual knitting hours, unknitting my piece, one stitch at a time until I found all the dropped stitches and backed out enough knitting that I was getting the consistent count on my lace repeats and then knitted it all back the way I had come. I got back to my original place where the disaster occurred, 3 days later and then I ran a life line through it to save my place. 8 hours that I could have used toward knitting! I could have been ready to knit the sleeves by now!
If you run a lifeline, you can just rip back taking minimal time to return to a state of having all stitches accounted for. This saves at least half the time it takes to recover from a mistake. Of course, the more lifelines you put in, the safer you are. We'll see how many I use, but I am determined to turn over a new leaf and use lifelines in my knitting. My knitting time is too precious to be used on ripping back, one stitch at a time.
I am now moving forward, hopefully wiser, again with lessons learned and I thought I'd share them with you all. A picture of my knitting with it's lifeline inserted. Happy Knitting!