Shaping in Lace Pattern

sl1, k2tog, k1, psso

The stitch pattern in this cardigan is simple, but a little uncommon. The stitch count varies from row to row: decreases occur on the right side while yarnovers occur on the wrong side. It’s also asymmetrical, as can be seen below. As a result, there isn’t a type of decrease which will work everywhere in the pattern: what looks good on row 3 of the pattern at the beginning of the row may not look as nice on row 5. In addition, the pattern is a little hard to read – since the stitch count changes form row to row, it isn’t possible to count stitches either to ensure we’re on target (well, it is possible – but one has to pay attention and I tend to knit while watching fairly engrossing movies so…)

What all this means is that sometime it’s necessary to improvise. Look at your knitting and do what you think looks right. To demonstrate this, I photographed a swatch I was knitting at different stages (I didn’t have any Soft Linen at the time, so I used Reynolds Saucy).

1st decrease


Here we are, about to begin shaping in the lace pattern. I’ve placed a marker 4 sts from the edge on the side where I wish to decrease and a marker 1 stitch from the edge where I wish to increase.

Row 5 completed

Row 5 has been completed. Note that I stayed in pattern on the decreasing side as it made sense to do so since the pattern decreases 1 stitch anyhow. Had the decrease fallen on row 3 or 7, I would have worked thus: k1(selv.), k1, k2tog.

Second decrease

Back at row 5, since the decreases occur on every 4th row. There were too few stitches for ‘k2, k2tog’, so I worked a k2tog right after the selvedge stitch.

On to the third decrease and the opportunity to get fussy: I like my decreases to be decorative or to be incorporated into the stitch pattern as much as possible. In this case, I prefer the latter. Note that I have only 1 stitch left between the selvedge stitch and the pattern. I do not want to decrease with the selvedge stitch because I find my seams aren’t as attractive that way, but I do not want to delay my pattern stitch either. So, I’ll work the stitch pattern and decrease at the same time.

sts 2 & 3 switch seats

To do so, I need to change the order of the 2nd and 3rd stitch (side note: I could have treated sts 2 and 3 as one stitch but it wouldn’t have worked here because they would have been slipped as one over the following two sts) . I’ve knit the first stitch and dropped the second momentarily; the right needle has caught the third stitch while the left needle caught the second: stitches 2 and 3 have now switched positions.

sl1, k2tog, k1, psso

Next, I continue in pattern (sort of): instead of ‘Sl1, k2, psso’, I’ve worked ‘Sl1, k2tog, k1, psso’. That’s it.


The completed row. I’m done decreasing for now on the right hand side. Time to work the new stitches on the left into the pattern. Easy. Just start the pattern on the next right side row after the marker which will move back to its position next to the selvedge stitch if there are any more increases to be made.

Increases in pattern


  • mary j

    aw, shucks!

  • Carol B.

    Thanks for the decrease/increase lesson. I am almost finished the back of the cardigan but haven’t had to decrease in pattern yet. Because my row gauge differed from yours my armhole decreasing ended up on a plain stripe, rather than on the pattern, but this info will come in handy when I do the cabled front and the sleeves. BTW, did you realize that the patterns for the fronts of the cardigans are reversed? In the photo the cable appears on the right front but in the pattern it is incorporated into the left. I thought at first that maybe the photos had been reversed but a closer look reveals that the buttonholes are on the correct side and the cable twists in the direction as written. Interesting.

  • Thanks!

  • Thanks a lot for this. It is very nice to have the photographs to use as a reference.

  • Bex

    Thanks for that! I have a question though, as i’m making this, i’ve notice that the reverse stocking stitch portions are looking like, well, spare tires heheh. They are bulging out like the Michelin Man. I’m using an Alpaca (cant get Reynolds in Australia) – can I ask if you had the same thing happen with the Linen yarn? I think its just because Alpaca is springy and a good blocking will fix it…..

  • i’m so glad to have found your blog. i love your designs! all so beautiful. can’t wait to see more.

  • Hi Veronik, I’m a big fan of your work (at the moment, I have your Prairie Tunic from several Interweaves ago on the needles using Artfibers Hana) and am glad you’re blogging! 🙂

  • Hi Veronik!

    Lurker/fan here – so happy you got your blog launched! You have a book in progress?! Wonderful, I can’t wait to see it. I’ll add you to my bloglines to follow what you’re up to.

    You apparently have been sighted in the past in my LYS (LK Yarns in Halifax, NS)….