How to knit lace patterns

Updated April 17, 2017

If you're a knitter looking for a fun and slightly challenging project, try knitting lace patterns. Don't let complicated-looking charts or pattern instructions intimidate you; once you master a few basic stitches and techniques, you'll breeze through them with ease. Once you learn to knit lace patterns, you can create delicate, airy shawls, wraps and scarves that will impress your knitter and non-knitter friends. You will also expand your knitting skills and increase the number of patterns you can knit with confidence.

Learn how to make yarn overs. Yarn overs appear in all knitted lace patterns; they're the stitch that creates larger open holes throughout the fabric. To make a yarn over on the front side of a knitted lace pattern, wrap your yarn over the right hand needle, from the back to the front. Move the yarn to the back and continue knitting. To make a yarn over when purling the wrong side of your lace piece, wrap the yarn over the right needle from the front to the back.

Practice decreasing. In most lace patterns, for every yarn over you make, you must work a decrease. This keeps your stitch count even as you knit from row to row. You can choose among several decrease methods, depending on what result you want to achieve. Make a right-leaning decrease by knitting two stitches together. To create a left-leaning decrease, slip two stitches from the left needle onto the right needle. Slide the left needle through the back of your slipped stitches and knit them together.

Master non-slanting double decreases. These appear in lace patterns almost as often as single decreases. To create a centred double decrease, slip one stitch from the left needle onto the right needle, knit the next two stitches on the left needle together and slide the slipped stitch over the knit-together stitches.

Learn to read lace charts. Most lace patterns include charts, which are much easier to follow than instructions written out long hand. Charts use symbols to indicate what kind of stitch you should knit and where you should knit it. All charts include keys that pair each symbol with a different stitch. When you're knitting a right side row, read a lace pattern chart from right to left. When you knit a purl, or wrong side row, read the chart from left to right.

Choose a simple lace pattern. After you've mastered yarn overs, decreases and chart reading, choose a simple lace pattern to practice.


Use a large gauge yarn to practice knitting lace, as it will allow you to better see the stitches.

Things You'll Need

  • Knitting needles
  • Yarn
  • Lace pattern chart
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